Comma.ai is an electronic driving aid developed by computer programmer George Hotz. It's a partial self-driving solution that can be retrofitted into virtually modern car, and Hotz's plan was to sell the kit for $999. However, a problem arose when the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration got wind of the plan. A warning letter was sent out and Hotz seemingly backed off on the Comma.ai initiative.
Now Hotz is back with the tech he created and he believes he's found a way around the regulatory issues that come with attempting to offer something like this. Hotz is going to give away the code for free.
You'll need a new Honda or Acura equipped with the automaker's upper tier cruise control and lane departure systems. You'll also need access to a 3D printer, an Android OnePlus 3 phone, and a strong trust in the coding ability of Mr. Hotz. If you do all of that, you'll have a Honda or Acura that will allow you to enter a driving mode similar to the one enjoyed by Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA] owners cruising along with Autopilot engaged.
Hotz believes that by giving away the means to make this technology work for free, he has sidestepped any reach that NHTSA might have. The federal agency disagrees, as you might expect. According to the Washington Post, any driver that attempts to operate a vehicle with this technology could be breaking the law. Specifically, in California it is required that an autonomous vehicle not operate on a public road unless the owner/operator holds a $5 million insurance policy and proof of a training program for anyone operating such a vehicle.
The Comma.ai founder argues that his kit isn't fully autonomous and doesn't fall under those laws. If someone tries to drive a Comma.ai equipped car and crashes, we're not sure a judge is going to feel the same way on this one.