Tesla hires veteran from AMD, Apple to make self-driving tech

He made the chip in your iPad, and he'll help your car drive on autopilot.

Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If there was any doubt left that Tesla is serious about self-driving car tech, it all but disappeared this week. The company has confirmed to Electrek that it recently hired processor design veteran Jim Keller to lead its Autopilot hardware engineering team. He's not only responsible for some of AMD's key architectures (such as the Athlon K7 and the upcoming Zen), but helped make Apple's A4 and A5 chips -- you know, the ones that powered everything from the original iPad through to the Apple TV.

This doesn't mean that Keller will be designing custom silicon for Tesla. The company isn't saying much about what he'll do beyond wield his "low-power design expertise." However, someone like him is particularly well-suited here. Autonomous car technology requires a lot of computing power in a tight space, and there are a lot of unsolved problems (say, handling unexpected human behavior) where hardware could play a role. Keller may be the key to turning Autopilot from a limited-use option to a standard, broadly relevant feature.