Self-driving technology company Aurora has made some key moves on its leadership team and overall company growth: It’s bringing on SpaceX’s now former head of software engineering, Jinnah Hosein, to lead its own software engineering team in a VP role. The autonomous software provider is also opening up two new offices, including one in San Francisco, and another in Pittsburgh, in addition to its existing HQ in Palo Alto.
Bringing on Hosein is a huge move for Aurora, which will now have some additional senior leadership taken to help direct and organize its growing engineering team, according to Aurora co-founder Chris Urmson. Hosein’s background includes his time as VP of Software Engineering at SpaceX, where he spent the past four years and oversaw projects including the recent successful Falcon Heavy launch. Before that, he was Director of Software Engineering at Google working on Google Cloud, site reliability and other software projects.
“It’s a pretty incredible set of experiences he has,” Urmson said. “We’re just excited about him bringing that leadership capability, that experience in building both cloud and incredibly reliable software to our team and working with the rest of the folks here.”
Hosein also worked for a brief time overseeing Tesla’s software operations as well as SpaceX’s when he served as acting VP of Tesla’s Autopilot Software prior to Tesla hiring Apple’s Chris Lattner for the role. Urmson says that Hosein’s proven track record launching rockets, and organizing software projects on that level of complexity is more important to Aurora than any brief time he may have spent on Autopilot, however.
Aurora is also opening two new physical offices and testing locations, as mentioned, including the San Francisco one that Urmson says will be a welcome relief to some of their employees currently commuting south to Palo Alto, as well as a way to attract more talent looking to work in the city proper. The Pittsburgh office gives them a new testbed, where they can prove their tech in inclement driving conditions and adverse winter weather, and it also puts them in close proximity to Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh’s robotics talent pool.
“When you combine that, between the offices we have in the South Bay, the San Francisco test areas that we’ll now have more access to and the Pittsburgh test areas, we have a pretty exciting diversity of test environments and places to operate,” Urmson added.
Aurora has already announced partnerships with Volkswagen, Hyundai, Byton and more, and recently added LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Index Ventures’ Mike Volpi to its board.