Companies like Mercedes, Tesla, and Google are spending millions to develop technology for cars that drive themselves.
George Hotz, a 26-year-old hacker living in San Francisco, thinks he's already figured it out — and it may only cost you a thousand bucks to implement in the car you're driving right now.
Using his 2016 Acura ILX as the test platform, Hotz took about a month to assemble a laundry list of electronics inside: A 21.5 inch screen on the dash that rivals a Tesla Model S (it has a 17-inch), a mini computer running Linux, GPS sensors built into the glove compartment, and cameras mounted around the car.
All this hardware works with Hotz's custom software to "learn" how to drive like a human, and as a new profile from Bloomberg's Ashlee Vance shows, it works surprisingly well.
Unlike other self-driving car platforms, Hotz is focusing less on rigid "if this happens, do this" type rules, and instead, feeding the computer data on how humans actually drive so it continually gets better.
"We have not told this car anything about driving," Hotz says in a video from Bloomberg. "We've shown it 10 hours of human driving footage, and we're like, 'Here is what the human did. Behave like that human as much as you can.' And you get all of this intuition that you'd never get in a really big system."
Hotz has already made a name for himself in the tech community. Mostly known by his handle "geohot," at 17 years-old he became the first person to unlock the iPhone, allowing it to be used on any cell network. A few years later, he hacked Sony's Playstation 3 and posted details of the security exploit on his website — an achievement that ended up getting him sued (the case was settled out of court).
After brief stints at Google, SpaceX, Facebook, and some time studying artificial intelligence at Carnegie Mellon University, Hotz is working on self-driving car technology that may be sold direct to consumers or to car companies through his startup, comma.ai.
"Ghostriding for the masses" is how he describes the company on his LinkedIn profile. In the video below, you can see what he's done so far.