This device can turn your ordinary Honda Civic into a high-tech self-driving car just for $700! Thanks to a student Brevan Jorgenson from the University of Nebraska-Omaha; you now don’t need to shell out $75,000 for a Tesla! Instead, you can use his open source software along with the $700 (561 GBP) hardware to turn your car into an autonomous driver-assisted vehicle!
While the technology is exciting, it has had its fair share of controversy. Jorgenson’s San Francisco startup “Comma.ai” recently announced the beta testing of its self-driving car, but had to cancel the full launch after extensive questioning from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
He has decided to go ahead with the plan anyway, as Hotz defiantly released the hardware designs online for free. He explains how he got around the NHTSA:
“NHTSA only regulates physical products that are sold,” Hotz said. “They do not regulate open source software, which is a whole lot more like speech.”
Hotz’s technology does raise some concerns about road safety issues caused by unregulated self-driving vehicles on the road. However, in an interview, Hotz claims that his technology doesn’t make the car a fully autonomous vehicle.
“It’s an advanced driver assistance system,” he said.
Despite the controversy and the air of uneasiness around, Jorgenson’s technology did undergo beta testing, with his Honda Civic getting installed with the device called Neo which consists of a OnePlus three smartphone, the software and the unique hardware.
He started testing the car in January.
“It was dark on the interstate, and I tested it by myself because I figured if anything went wrong I didn’t want anybody else in the car,” he said in an interview with MIT Technology Review. “It worked phenomenally.”
Currently, only two models are compatible with the system: a Honda Civic and the 2016 Acura ILX
Although Jorgen has managed to impress his family and friends, the strict legislation has barred his product from going mainstream. While this case of a hobbyist creating a self-driving system is unique; we have also seen Neodriven, another California-based startup, selling a similar pre-built Neo device for roughly $1,500.
Do you think these hobbyists should be legally allowed to work with such technologies? Comment below!