Comma.ai unveiled what could have been a breakthrough conversion kit that turns regular cars into self-driving ones. That is, until a legal challenge pushed its CEO to cancel the product before it even made it to market.
Comma.ai’s first major hardware product, Comma One, is a green box that could be installed in a regular vehicle in place of a rear-view mirror. With it, the user would be able to ride from Mountain View, CA to San Francisco, CA without touching the steering wheel or pedals.
George Hotz, Comma.ai’s CEO, boasted that the company would go to market with Comma One by the end of the year at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF conference in September.
His entire talk (embedded above) centered around the difference between Comma.ai and its competitors including Google and Tesla, shipability. He cited Google for having many hours of on-road testing but never actually shipping a product.
Unfortunately for Comma.ai, the Comma One has been cancelled.
This cancellation comes after an inquiry sent to Hotz by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association requesting proof that the Comma One was safe. Failure to comply with the request would result in a fine of $21,000 per day.
This leaves Comma.AI in an interesting situation. It has mobile apps Dash for iOS and chffr for Android, that act as a combination of Dropbox and FitBit for your car. Basically, you load it on your smartphone and mount it to your windshield while you drive and it gatherers video + GPS data during your trip.
This data is then mined by Comma.ai in order to improve Comma One’s ability to process video information while it is in use. It’s big data being used to assist in self-driving technology. For the user, it’s a somewhat-reliable way to log your car trips. Comma.ai encouraged its users to, “explore all your driving, compete with fellow chffr users on the leaderboard, and trash-talk in the comma community forums.”
Without Comma One, there is no telling what will happen with these apps.
The Comma One was expected to retail at about $1,000 and be made available first to users of the Dash and chffr apps that had earned a high amount of points by contributing to Comma.ai’s data pool.
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