San Francisco Startup Open Sources Its Self-Driving Software

Comma.ai, a San Francisco startup founded by George Hotz, publicly shared the source code of its self-driving software. Comma’s software is currently capable of turning certain Acura and Honda models into self-driving vehicles. The company also shared with the public its plans for the self-driving hardware called Comma Neo.

October 28 2016 , Hotz – known for hacking the iPhone and PlayStation – tweeted this message, “Would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn’t worth it.” Hotz was referring to the inquiry conducted by the U.S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding the safety of Comma’s self-driving software.

Hotz told Fortune that the reason behind the release of the self-driving source code into the wild is for the public to be part of the Comma network.

“The vision has always kind of been driving as a service. In the same way that Google provides email as a service with Gmail and doesn’t even charge anything for it, they’re still getting value from you because you’re a part of the Google network. This is kind of the whole idea with Android as well,” Hotz told Fortune.

The Comma Founder added, “Why would Google pour all this money into developing a phone operating system and then give it all away for free? It’s because it keeps you on the Google network. That’s kind of our plan too: How do we get people on the Comma network?”

Hotz said that if Comma could get even just 100 individuals to build these self-driving Comma Neos, the company would become the second biggest self-driving network worldwide, next only to Tesla. Once the problem of self-driving cars is solved, Hotz said, the company could establish a network and eventually monetize it by having someone on the Comma network allow his or her car to drive itself on Uber. The money earned through this network, Hotz added, could be divided among the car owner, Uber and Comma.

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