Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla is working to build its own custom AIP chips, according to reports from the Register and CNBC. Musk said that “Jim is developing specialized AI hardware that we think will be the best in the world.”
If you don’t know who Jim is, known as Jim Keller, is a well-known chip engineer that Tesla recruited last year to head Tesla’s Autopilot hardware division. Previously, Keller has held important positions at both Apple and AMD, so he has a lot of experience under his belt.
The first version of Tesla’s Autopilot chips were supplied by Mobileye, a leading supplier for autonomous car technology. Mobileye is now owned by Intel. The stakes are quite high for Tesla right now because the two companies have had a falling out last year. Tesla then built a new version of Autopilot without Mobileye’s help and is being powered by help from Nvidia.
Much like how Apple has designed many of its own chips, Tesla is also looking to reduce its reliance on outside sources. The company is working to develop its own chips and not have to rely on Nvidia or anyone else. This is especially consistent with Musk’s own philosophy for both Tesla and SpaceX where many components are in-house as much as possible.
While Musk and Tesla and designing their own chips, they do need to hurry up. This is because Musk in April said that he expects fully self-driving cars to be available in “about two years.” But another company to keep in mind is Google-owned Waymo that is way ahead of the timetable because there are fully driverless cars already on the public roads in the Phoenix area.