In the very near future, self-driving cars will save the United States $1.3 trillion annually by lowering fuel consumption ($169 billion), reducing crash costs ($488 billion) and boosting productivity ($645 billion).
Right now, the technology is developing around the world as a significant number of companies and researchers continue to work on their own versions of autonomous vehicles.
Enter: George Hotz, a brilliant hacker who is saying all you need is a kit to retrofit into your car to turn it semi-autonomous.
The 26-year-old tech genius and his small team of software engineers are currently working on a self-driving kit that will be compatible with most cars (that have anti-locking brakes and power steering) made before 2012. According to Inverse, Hotz’s product will be ready by 2016’s end and it will cost under $1000.
The kit’s software is essentially rooted on learning algorithms that need to be taught first before it can function autonomously.
Hotz’s company, Comma.ai, is on track to meet their end-of-year deadline after recently receiving $3.1 million in funding from investment firm A16z. Chris Dixon from A16z met with Hotz immediately after reading about him in a Bloomberg article featuring an autonomous vehicle that Hotz built in a month.
“I tested his car, and, along with some of my colleagues and friends with A.I. expertise, dug into the details of the deep learning system he’d developed,” Dixon wrote in a Medium post. “I came away convinced that George’s system is a textbook example of the ‘WhatsApp effect” happening to A.I.”
Dixon’s “WhatsApp effect” comment was a reference to making open-sourced information available for everyone to develop.
“We are building a product where you install a Comma system in your car and watch as it gets more advanced and more sophisticated,” Hotz told Re/code. “The real dream is autocommute — where you press the button and the car pulls up in your driveway and takes you where you need to go.”