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Meet Ashok Elluswamy, Indian-origin techie turning Tesla’s Autopilot dreams a reality, praised by Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to X, his social media app, to praise Ashok Elluswamy, an engineer of Indian origin, for his crucial role in developing Tesla’s Autopilot technology. Elluswamy, who was the first engineer hired for Tesla’s Autopilot team, shared his journey on X, shedding light on Musk’s significant influence and encouragement in advancing AI and autonomous driving at Tesla.

Elluswamy also said that without Musk’s leadership and encouragement, the EV maker wouldn’t have achieved the great heights it did.

Recalling the early days of the Autopilot project in 2014, Elluswamy detailed the team’s unique hurdles. They grappled with severe computing constraints, operating with a mere 384 KB of memory. Despite internal doubts about the feasibility of Musk’s ambitious goals for lane-keeping, lane-changing, and vehicle control, the team’s unwavering determination, fueled by Musk’s relentless drive, propelled them to these groundbreaking milestones.

By 2016, Tesla had made the bold decision to develop all the computer vision capabilities for Autopilot in-house, a feat that typically took other companies over a decade to accomplish. Astonishingly, the Tesla team managed to complete this monumental task within a mere eleven months, a testament to their unwavering dedication and the effectiveness of Musk’s leadership.

Musk reshared Elluswamy’s post, expressing his gratitude and admiration for his work. Musk acknowledged Elluswamy and how he led the AI/Autopilot team to where it stands today, stating, “Without him and our awesome team, we would just be another car company looking for an autonomous supplier that doesn’t exist.”

Elluswamy’s journey with Tesla began after Musk put out a tweet looking for candidates for the Autopilot team. The Indian-origin robotics engineer has been with the company for nearly a decade, rising to lead all AI/Autopilot software.

Musk underscored Elluswamy’s pivotal role in Tesla’s growth. “Thanks, Ashok!” he wrote, before delving into how Elluswamy was the first to join the Tesla AI/Autopilot team. After years of service and development, Elluswamy ascended to lead all AI/Autopilot software development, a testament to his profound impact on Tesla’s position in the autonomous driving industry.

Musk believes that without Elluswamy and the team he leads, Tesla would have been just another car company looking for an autonomous supplier that doesn’t exist.

Elluswamy, a robotics engineer specializing in computer vision, perception, planning, and control, earned his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics and Communication from the College of Engineering, Guindy, in Chennai. He later studied robotics systems development at Carnegie Mellon University in the US. Before joining Tesla, he worked with WABCO Vehicle Control Systems and Volkswagen.

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