George Hotz is a hacking phenomenon, regarded as the first to jailbreak an iPhone and hack into a Sony PlayStation.
Now, the 26-year-old is putting his tech savvy towards delivering economically-friendly autonomous cars. He has even created a company, "comma.ai," to drive these cars into the future.
A Bloomberg Business profile published Wednesday reveals that Hotz has already built a self-driving Acura ILX and his goal is to sell his autonomous technology — consisting of a camera and software package — to automakers or directly to consumers for only $1,000.
Hotz's manipulated ILX includes a 21.5-inch display screen, which runs his software and feeds from cameras and LIDAR systems, a joystick at the center console and a glove compartment transformed into a computing hub, equipped with a mini PC, networking switch and GPS sensors.
Hotz believes his autonomous technology can challenge Mobileye, the company which supplies Tesla, Ford, BMW and General Motors with driver-assist technologies.
Earlier this year, Hotz's self-driving technology caught the attention of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who according to Bloomberg, offered the young tech wizard a lucrative contract if he could perform better than Mobileye in a test.
"Frankly, I think you should just work at Tesla," Musk wrote to Hotz in an email, as reported by Bloomberg. "I'm happy to work out a multimillion-dollar bonus with a longer time horizon that pays out as soon as we discontinue Mobileye."
Hotz's response, as reported by Bloomberg: "I appreciate the offer, but like I've said, I'm not looking for a job. I'll ping you when I crush Mobileye."
Part of what makes Hotz so confident is that his autonomous software flies and utilizes off-the-shelf or purchased-from-Amazon electronics. His camera and software kit, which he plans to sell to automakers for $1,000 apiece, consists of the sophisticated software program and six $13 cameras, similar to those found in smartphones, that are strategically placed in the vehicle.
He plans on proving how much better his technology is than that of Mobileye in a few months, when he vows to publish a YouTube video showing his Acura ILX defeating a Tesla Model S on Interstate 405 in Los Angeles.
By accomplishing that, Hotz hopes to demonstrate that his autonomous technology is for real and ready to be used now. That and the video will help him to prove he was right to Musk.