Self-driving technology in cars is still a niche, but a lot of startups and automobile companies are working on developing driverless cars. Tesla is leading the market and a lot of companies such as Google, Uber, Volvo, BMW and others are actively working on respective projects. But a self-driving car startup Comma.ai is trying to shape the self-driving car industry in a unique fashion.
Comma.ai has open-sourced its self-driving kit as well as the robotics research platform for all hackers, developers and makers. The latest move by the company follows a stern warning from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which restricted the startup's plan to sell Comma One in the market and threatened a fine of $21,000 per day for non-compliance.
The open-sourced software that is available on Github is currently compatible with Honda Civic and Acura ILX cars, for self-driving capabilities such as adaptive cruise control, slowing down the car's speed for slow-moving traffic and self-steering to follow lanes. According to Hotz, Comma.ai's platform is second to Tesla's AutoPilot, CNET reported.
Comma One was expected to hit the market at the end of the year, which would provide a retrofit to existing cars and transform them into a self-driving one for under $1,000. But Comma.ai took a new approach towards achieving its goal by not just releasing the self-driving software on GitHub, but also launching Comma Neo, a Comma One spin-off, as open-source hardware plans.
The Comma Neo engineering isn't sophisticated at all. The heart of the device is the popular OnePlus 3 smartphone, which works as a display of the unit. There is a custom 3D printed case, which covers the phone. The OnePlus 3 used in the Comma Neo is no ordinary phone as it is flashed with Comma.ai's own operating system.
The phone's camera works as the visual sensor for the system, while the Snapdragon 820 chipset takes care of the visual identification and driving decisions. According to Comma.ai founder George Hotz, who is known for his work on the first iPhone jailbreak and hacking Sony PS3, the device can connect to a car through an OBD-II port, and using the user's data plan, the phone can connect to Comma.ai's deep learning stack. The physical parts of Comma Neo are estimated to cost around $700.