One of the most famous iPhone hackers, George Hotz, who rose to prominence after being the first person to jailbreak the original iPhone, has taken the decision to cancel his self-driving car project which was being pursued under the Comma.ai company name.
After spending what seemed like an entire career liberating devices like the iPhone and Sony’s PlayStation 3, Hotz pivoted into the autonomous car space, with a focus on creating a $999 aftermarket kit called the “Comma One”. Now, after receiving correspondence from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Hotz has decided to shelve those ambitious plans.
It seems that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is an agency associated with the Executive Branch of the United States government tasked with saving lives, preventing injuries and reducing vehicle-related crashes, issued a letter to Hotz and Comma.ai to request more information about the exact capabilities of the Comma One. That letter was appended with another piece of correspondence expressing concern that the outlined product “would put the safety of [Comma.ai’s] customers and other road users at risk.”
It’s not unreasonable for the NHTSA to send this type of letter, and certainly not unusual to express a level of concern, especially given the nature of the product and the impact that it could potentially have on not only those who choose to fit their vehicles with it, but also unsuspecting and innocent road users and pedestrians, should something go wrong with the hardware or software. However, it seems that Hotz would much rather spend his “life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers”, adding that the hassle just isn’t “worth it.“
That attitude is understandable given Hotz’ historical run-ins with those aforementioned lawyers, but also means that Comma One will be immediately suspended, and that Comma.ai will be “exploring other products and markets.”
It’s important to note here that the NHTSA didn’t actually ask Hotz or his company to discontinue work on Comma One, but that it should rather delay deploying fitted vehicles onto public roads until such a time that Comma.ai could guarantee that Comma One was safe to use in a public environment.
Comma One was scheduled to be made available for public by the end of this year.
If any additional information comes out about this, we’ll be sure to let you know, but we are now looking forward to seeing what’s next on the agenda for the artist formerly known as Geohot. You can check out the complete letter issued by the NHTSA here.