Tesla Motors, fresh off the first deliveries of its Signature Series Model X, is not standing still as it looks to hire 4,500 workers in California over the next four years who’ll be dedicated to self-driving technology.
According to the The Wall Street Journal, the electric carmaker which the Journal says employs 14,000 people, has 1,600 positions waiting to be filled as it focuses its efforts on seeking out engineers to work on its ambitious autonomous car efforts dubbed “Autopilot.”
In November, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter announcing intentions to hire 100 “hardcore” engineers to work on the Autopilot program. Musk stated he would personally interview each qualified applicant himself.
Musk had in September told The Wall Street Journal he expected fully autonomous vehicles on the road within “a six year timeframe,” and that regulatory issues would likely be the impediment to the roll-out of self-driving features rather than technological limitations.
The semi-autonomous “Autopilot” update, pushed out in October to Model S vehicles equipped with the necessary equipment, allowing drivers to take their hands off the wheel on certain stretches of highway and enable their Model S to provide automatic steering inputs as well the ability to react to traffic in real-time, to include acceleration and braking.
While Tesla has been grabbing headlines regarding autonomous driving features, there are numerous major players working on their own autonomous projects as well.
Included in these are Silicon Valley giants Google and Apple. Among rumors on a topic ultimately not clearly known, Google has been reported to be in negotiations with Ford to partner up on developing an autonomous driving vehicle, while Apple has also been linked to similar projects.
General Motors announced in October that it will have a fleet of 2017 Chevy Volts up and running at its Warren Technical Center campus in Michigan by the end of 2016 testing autonomous driving technology. Rideshare companies such as Uber have also announced intentions to conduct its own research into driverless car tech.
Tesla will have to fend off a diverse field of competition in order to recruit top engineering talent as the race heats up to be the first to deploy fully autonomous driving technology in a production vehicle.