Tesla’s New VP of Autopilot Wants to Make Cars Into “Appliances”

Just as long as he doesn’t get control over the Ludicrous Speed division.

byWill Sabel Courtney|
Electric Vehicles photo

In a turn of phrase sure to strike dread into the hearts of every gearhead who hears it, Tesla's new vice-president in charge of the company's Autopilot division says he's working to try and hasten the transition of automobiles into appliances. Gulp

“I want to accelerate the path to cars being appliances that solve people’s problems,” Chris Lattner said on a recent episode of the Accidental Tech podcast.

In the podcast, Lattner admitted that he was anything but a car guy. "I’m personally not the kind of guy who loves doing oil changes and fiddling around with them. I just want something that is reliable, that works, ideally drives me everywhere I want to go, and I don’t have to think about it," he said. 

"But Autopilot, I think, is a really exciting and really big problem and it kind of fits with my desire to solve nearly impossible problems and take on new things, and so I’m really excited about it.”

That sort of talk isn't quite as surprising when you stop to consider Lattner's resume. Before he moved over to Elon Musk's electric car company, he served as the head of Apple's team in charge of the Swift programming language, which has very little to do with a certain lanky pop singer and everything to do with the company's process for developing new applications. 

Lattner, who announced he was leaving Apple for Tesla earlier this month, said he previously had never considered going to work at a car company, as he didn't see a need for his programming expertise at any of them. 

But it seems he's already begun boning up for his new job. In the interview, he stressed that he thought we could see self-driving cars within the next 10 years, adding, "hopefully that’s a long view."

“There’s a huge technology problem, there’s huge software problems — this is not an overnight kind of thing that you wake up and solve immediately,” he said. "I have confidence that it’ll be solved, certainly within a decade.”

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