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Tesla Lost its Maps Leader

Bill Chen, who was leading maps and navigation engineering efforts at Tesla Motors, has left the company after nearly two years. Tesla and Mr. Chen confirmed his departure but declined further comment.

Mapping practitioners who have worked with Mr. Chen view the move as a negative sign for Tesla’s autonomous vehicle effort, which is already under pressure following the death of a driver using Tesla’s semi-autonomous “autopilot” mode.

Before joining Tesla, Mr. Chen was a key member of the Apple Maps team. At Tesla, he worked to create “high precision” maps of roads using data the company is constantly collecting from its cars. The company has said it’s trying to map every lane used by its cars in order to improve its self-driving technology. Mr. Chen also was believed to be working on a new mapping display to replace Google Maps in Tesla vehicles.

The Takeaway
The engineer who led Tesla’s high-definition mapping and navigation efforts has left the company. The move may reflect the inherent challenges of such a program, which is important for self-driving cars.