Now for free: the code for turning your car into a self-driving one

At the end of November, the American start-up Comma.ai released their software code that can turn a car into a self-driving vehicle.

Car constructors invested billions of dollars in making their vehicles autonomous. Comma.ai has a different approach. It creates software and a car-kit to turn any type of recent car into a self-driving one. When George Holz, founder of Comma.ai, presented the technology at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference, the audience reacted wildly enthusiastic. Holz offered the do-it-yourself package for only $999.

Foto: TechCrunch.com

Foto: TechCrunch.com

The party, however, was not allowed to continue.  Before long, Holz received a warning letter from Washington and there were attempts at intimidation. Security- and liability arguments blocked his disruptive approach.

Holz didn’t have the means nor the desire to pay an army of lawyers. He opted for a different strategy than AirBnB and Uber – who asked for forgiveness instead of requesting permission. Holz chose to make the source code public. Today, anyone can download the code on GitHub for free.

Just like with Android, Linux and Drupal, developers from all over the world can get started with optimising the code and adding their creative accents.

Because of safety and liability reasons, Holz did choose to still demand the alertness of the driver. when the driver doesn’t give a signal every 6 minutes, the car will stop. In fact, Comma.ai makes a car semi-autonomous, like a Tesla.

 The source code is more than welcome in Belgium

This technology offers great opportunities for innovation in Belgium and many other countries. Belgium – where we at Taxistop offer shared mobility solutions – lacks headquarters of car constructors or technology platforms such as Uber and Google. These market giants are not exactly eager to include our small country in their bleeding-edge developments.

If we want to excel in terms of innovation and technology in Belgium, this open-source code is more than welcome. We could use the technology in a sustainable mobility system with self-driving vehicles for local public transport, shared mobility and taxis. In this way, we could use Holz’ code to quickly launch pilot projects, which could lead us to a less car-dependant mobility.

This blog is inspired by the article  “Why a hacker is giving away a special code that turns cars into self-driving machines” from the Washington Post.