Waymo Takes On Tesla’s Former Engineer


Waymo has taken on Satish Jeyachandran, Tesla Inc.’s former director of hardware engineering, as the mobility division created by Google parent Alphabet Inc. moves closer to commercializing its self-driving vehicle technology.

“I wanted to join Waymo because it has a talented, mission-driven team that has made impressive advancements in self-driving hardware,” Jeyachandran said in a statement. “This technology offers incredible potential to save millions of lives.”

Jeyachandran, 38, spent nearly seven years at Tesla before leaving earlier this year. He will lead Waymo’s hardware team, overseeing the development and integration of cameras, radar, lidar, and computer vision, while working closely with the company’s software team.

“A few years ago, we made the decision to start building our own self-driving vision system, radar and LiDAR in house,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik, in a statement.

“This has been crucial to improving the quality of our self-driving technology, and bringing down cost. With Satish’s expertise, we’ll be able to further advance our self-driving hardware, and bring our technology to more people, more quickly.”

The hire is the latest in a series of high-profile talent acquisitions and departures to rock the fiercely competitive autonomous driving landscape. Established automakers, suppliers, tech companies and a raft of startups are competing to bring self-driving cars to market on the promise that the technology will save lives and transform vehicle ownership. Engineers with expertise in hardware, software, artificial intelligence, and computer vision, particularly those with experience leading teams, are in incredibly high demand.

Waymo has been aggressively hiring in hardware, software, artificial intelligence, and deep learning fields since being spun-out of Google X Labs by Alphabet. At the same time, the company has lost most of its star power from the early days, with former head Chris Urmson the last of the major contributors to leave in 2016 to found his own startup and Waymo’s former hardware chief, Bryan Salesky, who co-founded his own self-driving startup, Argo AI.

Another key executive, Anthony Levandowski, was recently sued by Waymo for allegedly stealing trade secrets and revealing them to Uber.

Moreover, Waymo recently started a free, experimental service to ferry hundreds of people around Phoenix in an effort to get consumers comfortable with the technology.

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