Self-driving Startup Comma.ai Kills Product after NHTSA notice

Self-driving Startup Comma.ai Kills Product after NHTSA notice

San Francisco based self-driving startup Comma.ai decided to kill the product the company showcased recently after receiving a notice from NHTSA. The company decided to kill the product (Comma One) instead of dealing with lawyers regarding certain issues related to its technology.

At TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, Comma.ai CEO George Hotz had showcased the product and claimed that the company would start selling it by year end. However, National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a notice to Comma.ai about regulations the product should follow before it can be offered for sale. NHTSA asked the company to ensure that the vehicle would be safe and complies with regulations and that the agency would first need to check those issues in detail.

As per NHTSA, the company had to provide answers to 15 questions regarding Comma One, the product design, safety trials and safety mechanisms employed by the company. However, instead of replying to NHTSA, Comma One announced that the company would cancel the product. The NHTSA notice also added that the company would face fines up to $21,000 per day for not complying with its order.

During TechCrunch Disrupt in September, Hotz also condemned companies like Google and other technology giants in failing to provide products based on well-established self-driving technologies.

In his tweet, Hotz said, "Would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn't worth it. Comma.ai will be exploring other products and markets."

The company was aiming to launch a retrofit device that would convert any vehicle into a self-driving vehicle. The device would cost around $1,000 as per initial estimates given by Comma.ai.

Hotz has been popular for being the first among hackers able to hack earlier versions of Apple iPhone.

Self-driving technologies have been tested by many technology and automobile companies. However, the risks associated with automated vehicles and their usage in commercial markets has been questioned by many due to safety concerns.

A report published by Digital Trends informed, “The Comma One design is a green box that replaces a car’s rear view mirror. Hardware in the box would look ahead and around the car and the device’s algorithms would take car of steering, acceleration, and braking. Hotz said cars with the Comma One installed could drive from Mountain View, California, to San Francisco with no assistance from a human.”

Comma.ai received startup funding from Andreessen Horowitz.

A TechCrunch report by Darrel Etherington added, “Hotz had criticized competitors for not being able to actually ship autonomous or driver-assistance features on stage, and also detailed a series of exchanges between himself and Tesla CEO Elon Musk around a potential job offer for Hotz at the electric car company.Hotz had criticized competitors for not being able to actually ship autonomous or driver-assistance features on stage, and also detailed a series of exchanges between himself and Tesla CEO Elon Musk around a potential job offer for Hotz at the electric car company.”


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