Geohot's Comma AI Launches Comma 3X ADAS Hardware With Support for Over 250 Car Models

In the world of driver assistance systems, Comma AI's openpilot is considered better than many factory solutions. It runs on a dedicated hardware device, now in its third iteration. Comma 3X is a revamped version of the comma 3 hardware, featuring better integration and more supported car models.
Comma AI launches comma 3X hardware 7 photos
Photo: Comma Ai
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When Tesla started its sensor-cutting spree a couple of years ago, Elon Musk touted Tesla Vision as a better solution. Humans only need eyes, he said, and Tesla EVs have plenty of them, as eight cameras are installed around the cars. Still, this was not a new idea, and people have tried to make autonomous vehicles work without expensive radar and lidar sensors for years. George Hotz, also known as geohot in the hacker community, was one of the promoters of the Vision-based ADAS solutions.

Geohot was best known for jailbreaking the iPhone 4 and later the Android phones and the PlayStation 3 console. Hotz and Musk have a history together, as they almost stroke a deal to develop the Autopilot together. It didn't pan out, as Tesla stuck with Mobileye for a while, while Hotz pursued his own self-driving company. Comma AI developed the openpilot software and an accompanying hardware device called comma one. In 2016, Comma AI demonstrated the self-driving features working on an Acura ILX, which caused the NHTSA to freak out.

To get off the hook, Hotz open-sourced the software and canceled the comma one hardware device. The development continued as a "research project," and a new hardware device named comma two was launched in 2020. Comma three launched in 2021 with more advanced features and better car integration, looking like an ordinary dash cam. It actually had three cameras, two oriented toward the front and the third recording the cabin and the rear traffic.

Comma three was a relatively expensive device, at $1,499, and required some pricey adapters to hook up to the car's information system. Most car models featuring adaptive cruise control (ACC) and lane keep assist/lane centering assist (LKAS/LCA) were compatible. People who bought the device and used one of the many forks of openpilot software claimed it was better than many factory ADS systems on the market.

During the COMMA_CON event on July 29, George Hotz announced that the improved comma 3X hardware is available to order. The main improvement of the new device is that it now integrates the CAN FD interface, so it can use a single cable to connect with the vehicle's CAN bus. Previously, people wanting to take advantage of the comma three capabilities needed a pretty expensive "red panda" device ($299) to connect to the car. Compared to comma three, the comma 3X has double the memory capacity, at 128 GB, and features stereo speakers instead of mono.

Despite these advantages, the device is now offered at a lower price of $1,250. The hardware doesn't provide new capabilities compared to the comma three devices, so it's unlikely that owners would want to upgrade. Still, those who considered comma hardware too expensive can now order one as it is more affordable and easier to integrate into the vehicle.

There's one thing to note, though, as the new device doesn't come preloaded with the openpilot software anymore. I guess this was a decision to prevent liability in case a comma-equipped vehicle is involved in a crash. Owners can install the software separately, choosing one of the many builds and forks developed by the openpilot community. The latest version of openpilot is 0.9.4, offering "navigate on openpilot," a feature akin to Tesla's FSD.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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