Home Internet Tesla lays off about 200 autopilot workers, most per hour

Tesla lays off about 200 autopilot workers, most per hour

by Gilbert R. Brooks

(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc. fired hundreds of employees from its Autopilot team when the electric vehicle manufacturer closed a factory in California, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Surprisingly, most of those fired were hourly workers, the people said, who asked not to be identified while discussing private information. Just last week, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk outlined plans to cut 10% of salaried staff but said he would increase the number of hourly jobs.

Tesla lays off about 200 autopilot workers, most per hour

Teams at the San Mateo office were tasked with evaluating customer vehicle data related to the Autopilot driver assistance functions and performing so-called data labels. Many of the staff were data annotation specialists, all on an hourly basis, one of the people said.

According to the people, about 200 workers were laid off. Before the cuts, the office had approximately 350 employees, some of whom had already been transferred to a nearby facility in recent weeks.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla is trimming its ranks after a wave of hires in recent years. The company, now based in Austin, Texas, had grown to approximately 100,000 employees worldwide when it built new factories in Austin and Berlin.

See also: Elon Musk sounds off on recession risk, Twitter deal, and Trump

Musk surprised workers earlier this month when he said layoffs would be necessary for an increasingly unstable economical environment. In an interview with Bloomberg, he clarified that about 10% of salaried workers would lose their jobs in the next three months, although the total workforce could be higher a year from now.

The EV market leader’s downsizing efforts focused on areas that were growing too fast. Some staffers and software engineers have been laid off, and in some cases, the cuts have hit workers who had only been with the company for a few weeks.

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Those affected by the latest move worked on one of the more striking features in Tesla vehicles. Buffalo, New York, and San Mateo employees spent hours labeling images for cars and the environment they navigate, such as street signs and lanes. In job postings, Tesla has said that labeled data is the “critical ingredient for training powerful deep neural networks, which allow Tesla’s vehicles to drive autonomously”.employees

In Buffalo, Tesla has continued to expand its Autopilot data labeling teams, said a person familiar with the matter. But the staff at that location, who play the same role, will be paid a lower hourly rate than in San Mateo, the person said.

Tesla’s stock fell less than 1% in late trading. The stock plunged 34% this year through Tuesday, compared to a 20% drop in the SP 500 Index.

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