Is George Hotz’s $1,000 Self-Driving Car Kit for Real?
Date: Oct. 4, 2016
If a 26-year-old entrepreneur named George Hotz has his way, it will soon be possible to buy a $1,000 kit on Amazon Prime that will convert your car into an autonomous self-driver. How soon? By the end of the year.
Will that really happen? If it does and you install his kit, will it work? Will the car that results be safe, or dangerous? And how will it compare to self-driving cars that are being developed by Tesla, Google and other big, rich companies? I mean, George Hotz’s self-driving car kit is something that he pretty much developed in his own garage.
Here’s What George Says He Has Developed
We are not vouching for the accuracy of the following information about what George has done, just reporting what he has to say about it, and demonstrated on some videos on YouTube about him and his company, Comma.ai. One of the better videos is this one, and from a very credible source, Bloomberg Business.
From that and Other Videos, We Can Distill What George Says He Has Done
- The installation kit will be relatively simple. There are only six inexpensive cameras, a variety of computers, and motors and servos to operate the throttle, steering and brakes. A large tablet interface, not unlike the Tesla’s, will be positioned above the center console.
- Machine learning – AI – is at the core of his system. To teach his car to drive, George mounted a camera in his car that observed what happens when real live people drive cars. He and several of his associates drove the car around, information about what they saw and did was recorded on an onboard computer – and then once the learning is over, the car was able to drive. George maintains that this approach is different from teaching a car to learn and obey “rules,” which is what other developers of self-driving cars are doing. We were unable to tell from the videos we saw whether the $1,000 kit will already know how to drive your car, or whether it will be up to you to teach it.
- It’s basically a system for assisted driving. It will allow a car to steer, brake, merge onto highways, stay within its lane, maintain a safe driving distance from the car ahead, and stop before it hits anything. The driver will be able to override the system at any point.
- There will be a phone app. Of course we would expect there to be one, but we cannot tell from the videos exactly what it will do.
Don’t Bet against George Hotz
Will he really be able to bring his kit to market by year’s end? Will it do what he says it will? We do not know. But we do know that if he pulls this one off, that will really be something.
To Explore Further . . .
If you’d like to learn more about the future of driverless cars, you might be interested in attending our upcoming Driverless Cities Summit, to be held from October 26-28 in San Mateo, California. The Summit will highlight the latest activities of regulators, modern designs for smart city planning, cutting-edge tech and applications for connectivity, and paradigms for allocating funding.