Chances are you know of George Holtz.
The (in)famous hacker, who at the age of 17 hacked into an iPhone, has since set his sight on the world of artificial intelligence. He started working with Vicarious, an artificial intelligence algorithm building company, but quit soon enough with hopes of working with Musk on a new type of computer vision system for Tesla. But that again led to nowhere.
And now, his new startup Comma.ai intends to make self-driving cars accessible to all.
What is Comma.AI all about?
Comma.ai is an autonomous driving startup that is creating a system that will convert regular vehicles into semi-autonomous ones. Hotz began working on this technology back in October. Hotz now plans to do it on a large scale as he wants to take on Tesla. Hotz actually bet Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, that a vehicle with a Comma kit would perform a whole lot better than any automated Tesla vehicle.
They’re (Tesla) the leaders in the industry, only because they’re the only ones who have shipped. I don’t think their technology is great, but they shipped. – George Holtz
All this progress hasn’t gone unnoticed as investors are willing to help Hotz go through with this endeavor. On Monday, Chris Dixon, partner to Andreessen Horowitz, announced that A16z is investing $3.1 million in Comma.ai. Dixon had his reservations about the whole idea when he met Hotz, but was soon won over when he tested the automated car.
Hotz’s aim is to introduce the kit to the market a price less than $1000 per kit. The kit of course includes a computer software and cameras for navigation.
“We’re not ever building the transportation-as-a-service kind of stuff,” he said. “We are building a product where you install a Comma system in your car and watch as it gets more advanced and more sophisticated. The real dream is auto commute — where you press the button and the car pulls up in your driveway and takes you where you need to go.”
Comma.ai has been making significant progress with their four person team, a team Hotz is looking to expand, as their Comma kit can easily navigate an hour long ride on a highway. And with a massive investment backing them now, the idea of mass producing Comma-driven vehicles that can rival a giant like Tesla doesn’t seem like a pipe dream any more.
Image Credits: CNN Money