George Hotz made a name for himself at 17 years-old as the first person to hack the iPhone, but his next project could be headed on a collision course with Apple’s self-driving car.
Using affordable electronics that any nerd on the street can purchase, Hotz revealed that he hacked an Acura ILX to become a self-driving car. The hack uses a lidar system on the roof with cameras mounted on the front and back that plug into a computer in the glove box. To top it off, Hotz added a 21.5-inch touch screen to the dash, and replaced the gear shift with a joy stick controller.
“Modern cars are very electronic and computer,” Hotz told Bloomberg. “If you ask me, I know a bit about cars, but I’m not a car guy. I’m a computer guy. Cars are computers.”
Self-driving cars has become a hot area of industry for the world’s top tech companies. Apple has a self-driving electric car in the works that could compete with other automotive ambitions from Google, Uber, Microsoft, and Tesla. Hotz has his own plan to take on the industry by eventually selling kits for $1000 that will turn your dumb car into a self-diving car of the future.
Hotz spent a total of $50,000 to create his Acura ILX self-driving car, but most of the money ($30,000) was spent on the actual car. The most impressive part of the the hack though isn’t the hardware, but the software vision Hotz has for teaching a car how to drive. Instead of building safety parameters that dictate all of the car’s movements, Hotz is built a neural net AI platform that shows the computer footage of humans driving, and then tells them to drive like that.
While Hotz hack may seem like an impressive but cheap knockoff, he insists its much more than that. He’s created a new company called Comma.ia with plans to ‘crush Mobileye’ (a competing self-driving car kit maker used by Telsa), and says he’s found some new discoveries for the AI revolution.
“We’ve figured out how to phrase the driving problem in ways compatible with deep learning,” Hotz said. ‘Of course there will be skepticism,” said Hotz. “This is part of a great adventure. All I can say is, ‘Watch.’ ”
To see Hotz’s car in action, check out the full profile on Bloomberg that’s full of nerdy bits on how the hack was made possible.