Comma.ai, the startup that was founded by former PlayStation 3 and iPhone hacker George Hotz, pulled the plug on its first product, the Comma One, in late October after scrutiny from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Comma One is a self-driving car kit that was said to give autonomous driving capabilities to normal cars. When it was announced, it was said to have a price tag of only $999, which is much less than what it could cost for customers to purchase an entirely new vehicle to gain access to self-driving technology.
While the Comma One is no more, it seems that Comma.ai will live on, as Hotz has open sourced the code behind the self-driving car kit.
Hotz Gives Away Code For Comma One
In addition to the source code, Comma.ai also released the plans for an associated hardware module, with both the hardware and software plans released under the MIT License to continue the dream of allowing older cars to be retrofitted with self-driving technology.
The code, as it currently stands, however, is only compatible with certain models of the Acura ILX and the Honda Civic, which are the two kinds of vehicles that Hotz had been testing the technology on.
Hotz, however, cautions that the current form of the software is still in "alpha quality," which means that it is still in the very early development stages and would require further refinement to be able to work as intended.
Introducing the Comma Neo
According to Hotz, the self-driving software, which is called Open Pilot, is the open source alternative to the Autopilot system of Tesla Motors.
The combination of Open Pilot and the plans for the necessary hardware, meanwhile, is collectively referred to by Hotz as Comma Neo, which he claims is able to provide almost all the same capabilities as Autopilot 7, which is the second most recent release of the Tesla Motors software.
Why Make Comma Neo Free?
The decision to make Comma Neo free is Comma.ai and Hotz' strategy of dealing with the scrutiny that came from the NHTSA.
"We want to be the Android operating system for self-driving cars," said Hotz at a press conference, referring to Google's free operating system for mobile devices, which allows developers to create innovations for the software.