Tech start-up makes self-driving technology open source

Company chooses to make software public after being reprimanded by regulators

Tech start-up makes self-driving technology open source

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

In a move that would likely make self-driving automobile technology even more accessible down the line, a tech start-up based in the US has recently declared its self-driving software open source for everyone to use.

The company, Comma.ai, announced Wednesday that it has publicly disclosed its software code and robotics research platform for the “driver-assistance system” it had originally planned to sell by the end of the year.

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Reuters reported that Comma.ai’s plans to sell its systems were shot down by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), hence the decision to make the system’s resources open to the public. The company originally expected to offer its self-driving system to consumers via Amazon for US$999, but the NHTSA demanded Comma.ai provide proof that the system would be safe for use before it could be sold.

“It is insufficient to assert, as you do, that your product ‘does not remove any of the driver’s responsibilities from the task of driving’,“ the NHTSA said in a letter to Comma.ai in October.

By making the tech open sourced, Comma.ai founder and known hacker George Hotz has found a way to introduce his technology to the world while circumventing regulators.

The company has compiled over seven hours of highway driving into a dataset that anyone is free to download. The code is available without charge through GitHub. An online guide for building the device to complement the software was also made public.

“From this, you should be able to replicate our initial… experiments,” Hotz said in a statement on the company’s website.

Notably, the software was developed with certain Honda Civic and Acura ILX cars in mind - the two cars Comma.ai had previously tested its systems on. Hotz also cautioned that the software is of “alpha quality”, and would require fixes for it to properly work. Interested developers may have to tweak the system for it to work optimally on other cars.


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