Comma One Opts Out Following NHTSA Demands


Famous hacker and entrepreneur George "GeoHotz" Hotz has taken his high-tech artificial intelligence startup on quite a roller coaster ride over the past couple of months. Less than two months ago, the technology guru announced that his manufacturing company, Comma.ai, would begin shipping autonomous driving hardware and software branded as Comma One before the end of the year. With an affordable $999 unit cost and a $24 a month subscription, car owners could convert their existing ride into an auto-assisted vehicle. Not intended to be a fully self driving car, the add-on product would be similar in function to Tesla's Autopilot that has been under lots of scrutiny following recent system failures.

By capturing and interpreting video lots of video data, Hotz's device would allow select drivers in San Francisco to move about the Bay Area without the driver needing to touch the steering wheel, brakes or gas pedal. Initially, the Comma One was targeted as an add-on for select Honda and Acura ILX models with lane keeping assistance and built-in front radars. The company's adaptive products would be targeted to other makes and models in the coming months of operation. Hotz had already expressed that he felt the future of automotive artificial intelligence lay in the industry's ability to lower the price point of emerging technologies using inexpensive electronics.

Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating some 40,000 roadway deaths a year linked to inattentive driving, the NHTSA recently delivered a letter to Hotz demanding that his company submit additional safety information about the Comma One product including:

  • How Driver Assistance Actually Works
  • Requirements for Installing the System
  • How the Technology Interfaces with Safety Devices
  • Copy of the Owner's Manual and Instructions
  • Road Conditions and Requirements for Operation

The NHTSA did not restrict Comma One from selling the autonomous driving kits but expressed strong concerns about the unit's driving assistance capabilities and demanded that the automotive product manufacturer submit the information listed above. In a surprising move, Hotz announced that his company would terminate the project rather than operate under government agency scrutiny.

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