Ashok Elluswamy, The Mastermind Behind The Success Of Tesla’s Autopilot Success

Ashok Elluswamy, The Mastermind Behind The Success Of Tesla’s Autopilot Success

Elon Musk, known for his high IQ, understands the importance of motivation and maintaining his team's morale for cohesive and positive growth. On June 9, Ashok Elluswamy, Tesla's Director of Autopilot Software, publicly thanked Musk on 'X' in a lengthy post, praising his "deep technical understanding, insane perseverance, and relentless hard work" and demonstrating himself as a pioneer in real-world AI. In response, Musk expressed his gratitude, acknowledging Elluswamy’s contributions to Tesla and sharing this appreciation with the world.

Elon Musk’s Gratitude Note

Musk stated “Thanks Ashok” and along with that, also remarked that he was heedless about Elluswamy’s acknowledgment until he tumbled upon the post min ago, showing a collaborative and humble nature of business relationship.

Musk also posted a link of an article written by Elluswamy on the portal, where the tech billionaire applauded his mastermind behind Tesla’s evolution in autonomous and AI driving technology. 

“Thanks Ashok! Ashok was the first person to join the Tesla AI/Autopilot team and ultimately rose to lead all AI/Autopilot software. Without him and our awesome team, we would just be another car company looking for an autonomy supplier that doesn’t exist. Btw, I never suggested that he say anything and I had no idea he wrote this until I saw it 10 mins ago!”

Here is the link:

Ashok Elluswamy and Perspective

Ashok Elluswamy is an Indian-origin robotics engineer with vast experience in computer planning and control via planning and control. Further, he was the first person to join Tesla’s AI/Autopilot team to rise and lead all AI/Autopilot software eventually.

Elluswamy described Musk as a visionary leader who keeps his employees motivated to achieve greater goals, even when these ideas seemed unthinkable at the time. He unfolded the challenges faced at the time Tesla was developing its Autopilot system, emphasizing Musk’s unstoppable drive and resolution to prevail over obstacles and innovate groundbreaking technologies.

The post read: “@elonmusk has been the key driver of AI and autonomy at Tesla. He has always pushed us to achieve great things, even when such ideas were seemingly impossible at the time. Some examples:

Back in 2014, Autopilot started on a ridiculously tiny computer that only had ~384 KB of memory and puny compute (didn't even have native floating point arithmetic). He asked the engineering team to implement lane keeping, lane changing, longitudinal control for vehicles, curvature, etc. Many, even in the team, thought that the request was crazy. Nonetheless, he never gave up and pushed the team to achieve this very difficult goal. In 2015, beyond all odds, Tesla shipped the world's first Autopilot system. The second closest such product only came to market many years later.

In 2016, Tesla started doing all of the computer vision required for Autopilot in-house instead of depending on external vendors. Many people thought it was insane to bet the product on developing the vision system from scratch within a few months, which had taken other companies a decade or more. Yet, we achieved this target within eleven months. This was a strategically important move that started the development of a strong AI team at Tesla.

Not only did he push for strong AI software, but also for powerful AI hardware. Tesla, which others thought was just a car company, was making custom silicon to run neural networks efficiently. This hardware that was originally designed in 2017, came to production in February 2019 and remains extremely competitive with hardware coming out to date. For reference, this five year old AI computer has roughly 8x the AI inference compute as the state-of-the-art Apple M3 chip. It is still able to run the latest end-to-end neural networks built on top of the latest AI technology.

He was the one who bet on vision and AI to solve autonomy instead of relying on sensor crutches and high-definition maps. For anyone who has experienced the latest versions of FSD, it might be obvious that it can see all the important things and drive the car based on pure vision. However, back in 2020 and earlier it wasn't obvious to most. In fact, many "experts" in the field ridiculed Tesla and Elon for these choices. We have proved them wrong by shipping supervised FSD to millions of cars and shown that with good AI software, the car is able to handle the complexities of city driving such as making turns, handling intersection, yielding to pedestrians etc., just by seeing outside. In fact, we even removed the radars and ultrasonics to just really focus on the heart of the problem, which is AI. Today, it's almost paradoxical that, Teslas have the least amount of raw sensors, yet have the most autonomous capability compared to any production car. Pulling off such a contrary bet was only possible because of his extreme conviction and deep understanding of this problem.

He kickstarted the work on humanoid robots at Tesla in 2021, again before any ChatGPT or other obvious examples of the rise of AI. Just like the vehicle autonomy, Optimus is also being developed to be competent, scalable, and cost-effective in order to widely serve the world.

I could go on, but plainly, Elon is critical for Tesla's success in AI. It is his combination of deep technical understanding, insane perseverance and relentless hard work that have positioned Tesla to be a leader in real-world AI. Elon's technical intuition to make these important decisions way before others see it is unmatched. If not for Elon's ambition, Tesla might have dwindled to become just another car company. In the future, fully autonomous cars and useful household robots will be common place and the world will think that this was how it was always supposed to be. Until then, we need Elon Musk to push the frontier, because he sees it already.”

Check out the link:

High Designated Indian-Origin Officials

Indian-origin techies have proven their mettle with their abilities in various sectors including, AI innovation, and other aspects of the technology world, such as Sundar Pichai CEO of Google & Alphabet, Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft, Neal Mohan CEO of YouTube, Ajay Banga World Bank Group President, Nikesh Arora CEO of Palo Alto Networks, Vivek Sankaran CEO of Albertsons, George Kurian CEO of NetApp, Jayshree Ullal CEO of Arista Networks, Shantanu Narayen CEO of Adobe and more to name a few.

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