George Hotz is a name that you may not be familiar with, mainly because he has spent most of his online life going by the name of Geohot. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Hotz was a prominent figure in the world of jailbreaking at one point, in fact he was the first person to unlock and jailbreak the iPhone, and was even the guy that jailbroke the PS3, much to Sony’s chagrin. The guy knows how to bend technology to his will in a way that 99% of the planet can only dream of, and that’s perhaps understating it a tad.
George Hotz is a very clever guy, indeed.
So when his company, Comma.ai, which recently secured investor funding, claims that it is going to make a system that people will be able to buy and then retro-fit to their own cars in order to turn them into cars that can drive themselves, we tend to believe him. In fact, Hotz believes his startup will beat the likes of Google and Apple to market, and he might just be right.
In an interview with Roadshow, in which the 26-year-old Hotz showed off his self-driving car out in Las Vegas, the man comes across well, perhaps even reminding some of a young Steve Jobs in the way he speaks. That may be a good or bad thing, depending on your own thoughts on the Apple co-founder, but there is no doubting Hotz nor Comma.ai’s confidence in the product, and it’s infectious.
In order to make that product as good as possible, Comma.ai is planning to release an app called Chffr for both Android and iOS that will allow users to provide crowd-sourced information to the company, which will then use it to train its system to better handle the road. Users will download the app and then mount their phone on their car’s dashboard with data being collected on average speed, manoeuvres carried out and breaking or accelerating patterns, amongst other things. That data will then be uploaded to the Comma.ai servers and presumably into the company’s self-driving car software. The idea? To make self-driving cars better at, well, driving.
The app will be ready by the end of June and will incentivize its use by providing Comma Points for each minute it is in use and on the road. What those points will be used for is unknown, but Hotz says we will all want them. Not as much as we want a self-driving car, though, George. You can sign up for Chffr app beta at comma.ai.
Comma.ai is aiming for the end of the year to bring its self-driving kit to market. It will be available for $1000 on Amazon Prime.
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