George Hotz's Comma One Becomes Comma Neo, Is Available Online for Free

George Hotz 1 photo
Photo: YouTube screenshot
Just as October was about to end, George Hotz received a letter from the NHTSA asking a few questions about the product his company had just presented: the Comma One self-driving unit.
During his very energetic presentation, George talked emphatically about the piece of hardware he held in his hand, claiming it could theoretically turn any car into a self-driving one, and all for just $999 and a monthly subscription.

His response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was to close shop and give up on the Comma One altogether. Well, at least that was what it looked like initially. A recent interview with Bloomberg - the same outlet that first made his work public nearly one year ago - shows George Hotz isn't ready to go away yet.

Instead of fighting it off with the NHTSA, decided to make both the software and the plans for the hardware available for free online. People can simply download the code and the schematics for the actual gadget and, with the help of a little 3D printing, they could make their own self-driving unit.

Hotz also talks about the NHTSA letter and defends his decision by claiming that it simply came at a very inappropriate moment: "The regulator's response I thought was very reasonable - the problem was when it came," he says. "We were not selling a product; we were not even taking pre-orders for a product, and they were already asking me for things like a user manual under oath. Easier to just cancel, and pivot."

Now, since is simply making all this stuff available for free, the NHTSA can't intervene in any way since it's not a commercial activity. The system is now only compatible with the Acura ILX 2016 with AcuraWatch Plus and the Honda Civic 2016 Touring Edition, but since the software is open source, anyone with the necessary skill can jump in and adapt it to other makes and models.

We don't know what it is exactly, but we can't escape the feeling we're watching a totally new George Hotz. Not only does he seem more reasonable, but he even admitted the new Tesla Autopilot is better than his system. He did say it was only "a bit" better, but it's still progress on his part.

Autopilot is a bit better because one of the key things they are doing is fleet-learning," Hotz thinks. "All of their Autopilot cars are helping to train all the other Autopilot cars.” He goes on to compare Tesla with the IOS and his system to the Android, claiming that after the Neo gets enough miles under its belt, it will become better than Autopilot 2.0.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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