George Hotz was known as a hacker. More specifically, Hotz was known as the first person to hack the iPhone and Sony PS3. He has the legal bills to prove it. Hotz has been busy redefining himself as the next (hopeful) billionaire CEO. His company, Comma.ai, has set out to build a $1,000 self-driving car. Astonishingly, he's getting close.
We all know that Tesla, Google and others have been spending billions of dollars on autonomous driving research and development. Automakers have spent years developing complex software imbued with rules on how a car should navigate the roads. Hotz does things differently. First, he built his actual self-driving car for only a few thousand dollars out of his San Francisco home garage. Secondly, his plan involves modifying (compatible) already road-legal vehicles, such as his 2016 Acura ILX. Finally, he says his cars learn how to drive by observing many hours of human driving patterns instead of programming lines and lines of code. Hotz believes Comma.ai is revolutionary because “manufacturers have been working on [autonomous driving] for years and they don’t even have what we have.” Hotz also believes Comma.ai’s solution "works in some cases better than Tesla's". To help improve their software, Comma.ai has launched an app called Chiffr, which logs in driving data when mounted to a windshield. The company looks to crowdsource huge sets of data, which will help their artificial intelligence learn faster.
Hotz believes his self-driving cars will soon be "easy to set up as a piece of Ikea furniture...if you think that's easy." He believes that many cars on the road today can work with his DIY kit. His plan is to offer the whole package for $1,000.
Hotz still has a long way to go, but his approach to the self-driving is unique and very cool.
We encourage you take a moment to watch the video from Bloomberg for more information on George Hotz and Comma.ai.