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Elon Musk Praises Indian-Origin Man For Tesla's AI Success

Photo courtesy: NDTV

Elon Musk on Sunday thanked Indian-origin Ashok Elluswamy, the first individual hired for Tesla's autopilot team. The tech billionaire credited Elluswamy for Tesla's advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and autopilot software, NDTV reported.

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In a quote-tweet of Elluswamy's note on X (formerly Twitter), Musk stated, "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. By the way, I never suggested that he say anything, and I had no idea he wrote this until I saw it 10 minutes ago!"

Ashok Elluswamy, in his detailed note, praised Musk's influence on AI and autonomy at Tesla. "Elon Musk 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," Elluswamy remarked.

He recounted an instance from 2014 when the autopilot programme began on a "ridiculously tiny computer" with only about 384 KB of memory and limited computing power. Despite the team's initial scepticism, Musk pushed for the implementation of lane keeping, lane changing, and other advanced features. By 2015, Tesla had launched the world's first autopilot system, well ahead of competitors.

In 2016, Tesla took the bold step of developing all computer vision for autopilot in-house, a move that many thought was risky. Nonetheless, the team met this ambitious goal within eleven months, marking a significant milestone in Tesla's AI development.

Elluswamy further highlighted Musk's commitment to powerful AI hardware, noting that Tesla designed custom silicon to efficiently run neural networks. This hardware, initially created in 2017, went into production in February 2019 and remains competitive.

"He [Elon Musk] was the one who bet on vision and AI to solve autonomy instead of relying on sensor crutches and high-definition maps," Elluswamy said. He emphasised that by deploying millions of Teslas, the company has proven wrong those who doubted Musk's vision.

Reflecting on the scepticism Tesla faced, Elluswamy stated, "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 (Full Self-Driving) 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 intersections, yielding to pedestrians, etc., just by seeing outside."

He also noted Musk's foresight in kickstarting work on humanoid robots at Tesla in 2021, well before the rise of AI technologies like ChatGPT.

Elluswamy concluded, "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 commonplace, 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."

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