By on November 30, 2016

neo

George Hotz has revived his Comma One self-driving technology project — sort of — after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shut down the commercial launch of his product earlier this year. Today, Hotz announced he would release the hardware schematics and code for the project for free to the public, targeting hobbyists and researchers.

The code is already up on the Comma.ai github repository, along with a detailed guide and schematics on how to assemble the hardware. Making the project open source and releasing it for free might get NHTSA off his back, so the only question now is how to monetize it in the future.

According to details posted on the repository, the hardware platform will be called neo and based on the OnePlus 3 smartphone with a STM32F205 CAN interface board attached. The rest of the package includes 3D printed case, along with some cooling components and cabling. The final product appears to be similar to what was shown at TechCruch SF and appears to match our hypothesis from September.

All of the hardware can be purchased from six online vendors, carrying an estimated cost of around $700. The list of components is very detailed and includes schematics for assembly, along with CSV files that can be uploaded to the vendors for easy purchase. The STL files included in the cases can be uploaded for use on your own 3D printer or the 3D printing vendor of your choice. All of this is capped off by a very detailed step-by-step guide on how to assemble the final product.

The neo is released under the MIT license and only carries one warning, loudly stating, “THIS IS ALPHA QUALITY SOFTWARE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY. THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMPLYING WITH LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS. NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED”.

The software portion of the project is called OpenPilot and is described as an open source driving agent that runs on the neo research platform, offering Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) for Hondas and Acuras. Right now, the only supported vehicles are the 2016 Acura ILX with AcuraWatch Plus and 2016 Honda Civic Touring. The only limitations are a 25 mile-per-hour threshold for the ILX (the use of cruise control for the throttle and steering is disabled below 18 mph) due to a limitation in the steering firmware.

The Honda CR-V Touring uses similar hardware as the supported vehicles, so it is offered as a potential next step in vehicle support. The notes recommend sniffing the CAN bus while LKAS is running in order to pick up the message ID for the steering system. That’s the only message described as being different from the Civic and ILX. Implementing the project on other cars is described as possible but more challenging.

The device will continue to use the Chffr app for data collection just as it did for the Comma One. Beta and data will be collected in order to improve the software models and improve the platform for all users. Although the OnePlus 3 model has dual cameras, the user facing camera and microphone will not record any data.

 

Hotz may have outsmarted NHTSA to get his product out to testers and researchers, but the question now is how it can be monetized. The MIT license will allow other companies to use the code for their products if they deem it fit, without having to include Hotz in the equation (so commercial licensing is not an option). The most likely scenario seems to be one where Hotz uses the collected data to build his own next-generation product, followed by the scenario where he just sells all the data to another aftermarket manufacturer. This project has taken an exciting turn and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Image Credit: [Comma.Ai]

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22 Comments on “Comma.ai Bypasses NHTSA, Releases Self-Driving Technology to the Public...”


  • avatar
    redliner

    If you can’t beat them, give it to them for free.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Hope he has a good lawyer.

    This reminds me of the debate surrounding 3D printed guns.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Make AV in the Basement of Your Mom!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So the software is Alpha, it only works on two vehicles from the 2016 model year, sort of, yet he wants us to believe this was ready for commercial release basically…now.

    Ya…right.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “Hotz may have outsmarted NHTSA”

    he did no such thing. he just dumped an un-finished, amateur-hour piece of junk out the door.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      He did also, sort of, help put a floor under how far down the jackboots can stomp people, under guise of “regulation.” And that’s always a good thing, whatever else may come of it.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        Those ‘jackboots’ are what stopped this guy from releasing a scam consumer product that would have endangered me and my family. Or do you think that the *market* would sort it out when somebody’s half-assed cell phone autonomous driving system t-boned my car with my wife and kids inside?

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          People have been t-boning other with cars for as long as cars have been around. Cell phones won’t change that one way or the other. Yet you hear very little about banning “half-assed” drivers controlling cars.

          Just as with biologically powered autonomous driving systems, cell phone ones will be employed with a reasonable degree of care, as long as the penalties for t-boning others for no reason are strict enough.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Yes, those dastardly regulators! Keeping him from selling, as a finished product, an apparently poorly-tested pile of junk that happens to be able to take control of your car from you.

        Keeping dangerous stuff like this off the roads is the whole reason we have the NHTSA, and I’m glad they were able to do it.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          “Keeping dangerous stuff like this off the roads is the whole reason we have the NHTSA, and I’m glad they were able to do it.”

          That’s the party line. In reality, the reason is keeping mere equals from being allowed to sell “dangerous stuff” for the road. Those sufficiently connected, like Tesla, can always run around slamming into trucks at will. As they are, after all, more equal…

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        Stuki, ever see those 1930s episodes of Flash Gordon with Buster Crabbe? Remember how the little space ships sputtered and farted in for a landing on their invisible strings, jerking to an immediate halt the instant they touched the ground?

        That’s how hokey “jackboots” sounds any more. Have you *looked* at anybody’s tactical footwear lately?

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    I’ll bet his VC backers *love* what he did with their money.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Alpha quality? Wasn’t this thing supposed to be sold as a finished product in a couple weeks? I thought it was totally ready to go, if not for those darn feds with their nit-picky requirements like “tell us what safety tests you’ve done” and “send us a copy of the manual.”

  • avatar

    That looks like something that gets you detained before you even get to your departure terminal…

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Can’t wait to see it on Aliexpress for $99

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Hotz may have outsmarted NHTSA to get his product out to testers and researchers…”

    I’m pretty sure that NHTSA couldn’t care less that the code is Github. It’s not being sold to the masses with false claims that it works straight out of the box, which is what matters to the agency.

    I’m starting to think that Hotz had no real intentions of releasing a consumer product this early. Rather, he may have simply claimed that he would in order to create buzz and raise money. NHTSA essentially gave him free advertising.

    Now Hotz has seed money, a modest brand and a small team to work on his stuff that is being funded with OPM. That’s pretty good for him.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’d never trust him, just based on the state of his garage in that photo.

  • avatar
    Car Guy

    Good for him. Find a loophole and exploit it. Constant cat and mouse game. That reminds me – I need to contribute to my non-deductible IRA and roll it over to a Roth to get around the income limits……………

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    What could possibly go wrong?


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