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AI start-up "Comma.ai" led by famous iPhone hacker George Hotz is kicking off a $999 auto-drive app

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【Summary】AI start-up “Comma.ai” led by famous iPhone hacker George Hotz is kicking off a $999 auto-drive app

Original Lydia    Sep 26, 2016 6:00 PM PT
AI start-up
Claire Pu

By Claire Pu

The 26-year-old George Hotz, alias geohot, was once famous for unlocking the iPhone, allowing the phone to be used with other wireless carriers, contrary to AT&T's and Apple's intentions.

But last October we learned he had his own company, named "Comma.ai," focusing on the self-driving cars. He's gunning for Elon Musk and Tesla.

According to Forbes, Comma.ai in April this year received a $3.1 million seed investment led by Andreessen Horowitz. The investment values the tiny company at $23.1 million in post-money valuation.

And as revealed at TechCrunch Disrupt SF this year, the famous hacker said a $999 autonomous driving add-on called "Comma One" will likely be shipped at the end of this year, with a $24 monthly subscription for its software, and will be able to drive your car from Mountain View to San Francisco without requiring a driver to touch the wheel, the brake or the gas pedal.

"This isn't a kit that makes your car into a fully self-driving vehicle, but it is a system that can provides a power equivalent to Tesla's Autopilot, without requiring that you buy a whole new car." Hotz said, according to TechCrunch.

"It is fully functional. It's about on par with Tesla Autopilot," He added. It doesn't have a lot of sensors as the Comma One relies on built-in car front radars and comes with a camera. "The key sensors that we're getting back is the cam. We're actually getting back the video, even Tesla isn't doing that. We have all the video data."

The Comma One itself is a plastic box resembling an old-fashioned cassette, and will come in a variety of colors including bright green and slate grey. The box includes a forward facing 16MP camera, a rear facing 8MP camera, both 3G and WiFi, and a 5.5" screen, which Hotz says "is 11.5 inches more compact than a Tesla's."

The $24 monthly subscription will activate built-in 3G for video load. However, for people who do a lot of driving on a daily basis, it's still not enough no matter how large the data cap is. Hotz mentioned that he hopes people who are driving can be in the range of WiFi.

Currently, Comma One only supports very limited vehicle models—late model Honda and Acura ILX models equipped with forward facing radar and cameras. But its much cheaper price might allure people especially geohot fans to try out. The beta product, if coming out at the end of this year, will be in very limited quantity to test the water.


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