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Neodriven Releases Mirror Replacement That Gives Your Car Autonomous Capabilities

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【Summary】George Hotz, founder of Comma.ai, has reintroduced the Neodriven project that replaces a vehicle’s rearview mirror and gives the car autonomous capabilities.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 18, 2017 10:05 AM PT
Neodriven Releases Mirror Replacement That Gives Your Car Autonomous Capabilities

A few years ago, known hacker George Hotz started a project that would give any car self-driving capabilities. At the time, which was at the end of 2015, the company touted the product that would cost the consumer $1,000. After 11 months, and a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stating that the company could not sell its technology until the administration completed its research and found that the tech was safe, the project was axed. 

Approximately a month later, as The Verge reports, Hotz restarted the company as two open-source efforts by separating the software and hardware of the technology with his company, Comma.ai. The plan from the beginning for Hotz, as the report points out, was to start a do-it-yourself project to revolutionize the automotive industry. Now, a company called Neodriven, which is headed by former Tesla employee Matt Schulwitz, announced a new device that resembles Holtz's original project. 

Neodriven's Humble Beginnings

Neodriven brought a version of its technology to the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) where The Verge managed to test it in a Honda Civic. As the report points out, the technology was in its initial stages as a blue 3D-printed case was being used to cover the OnePlus 3 phone, circuit board, and various components with one another. Despite the rudimentary appearance of the equipment, the technology, according to the outlet, still provided the vehicle with Comma.ai's autonomous software. 

Schulwitz claims that he and his brother jumped on the opportunity when Hotz announced plans to open-source the technology. "We started sourcing parts and working with different suppliers literally within 24 hours of the news breaking," stated Schulwitz. According to the report, the brothers hand-soldered the circuit board, printed the case, and uploaded the autonomous software into the device. 

While that makes it sound like Neodriven's new piece of technology is for those who like to get their hands dirty, the report claims that it's an easy fix. All a buyer needs to do is remove the plastic piece that covers the Civic or the Acura ILX's driver assistance camera, which is located on the windshield. Using an Ethernet adaptor, drivers can then upload the Neodriven hardware and slide the remaining hardware into place. 

Does It Really Work? 

Having a piece of autonomous technology that could be fitted to any vehicle an provide the vehicle with self-driving capabilities would disrupt the automotive industry. And as Schulwitz states in the report, the first attempts with the OpenPilot system were comparable to early variants of Tesla's Autopilot system. 

As The Verge points out, thanks to the technology, the prototype in the Civic matched the speed of the vehicles in front of it and even came to a halt at a light behind the car. The report also claims that the Civic kept itself within Las Vegas' dotted lanes.  

Currently, Neodriven is only selling the hardware to be used by developers and DIY owners. With an affordable price tag of $1,495, automakers and other developers could make major strides in autonomous technology using this platform. 

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