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Can you imagine the kind of resale value a car would have if it came with its own autopilot? Yes, we mean what you think we mean - a self-driving car mode. The idea of them is so desirable. Self-driving cars make getting to work or school easier and without the need for human intervention. That’s pretty helpful for those of us who have an average commute of 30 minutes to an hour. With a self-driving car, that long commute now offers the driver an extra hour or so to put the final details on a project or just catch some Z’s along the way. However, without the green light from organizations like the NHTSA and IIHS, self-driving cars can’t be mass produced … but that doesn’t mean individuals can’t make their own.
Brevan Jorgenson, a college student, turned his 2016 Honda Civic into a self-driving car for less than $1,000. You may have heard of something similar when George Hotz talked about Comma.ai, his San Francisco startup that hit a rough patch and went on hiatus when the NHTSA asked about safety regulations and functionality. Shortly afterwards, hardware designs and software by Comma.ai, including the code to run the self-driving mod, popped up on the internet thanks to none other than Hotz himself. Now, anyone can turn their car into a self-driving car, but only if they own a Honda Civic or Acura ILX.
Bummer, right? So close. Not all is lost though. Kiki Jewell, from the San Francisco Bay Area, set out to use the code on her Chevy Bolt anyways, so there may be hope that others could do the same.
As long as you understand software code, the interconnections between a car’s electronics and circuit board, and can take apart and put back together a smartphone (a OnePLus 3) then you can do it too. That’s all it takes, along with a 3D printed case that can be ordered online. Not all of us out there can make it into MIT though, so maybe you have a friend or associate who could modify your car with the Openpilot software Hotz released. If a college kid, Jorgenson, could do it for $700, then surely others out there can.
The NHTSA has authority over mass-produced self-driving vehicles, but individuals have a little more leeway. People modify Jeeps and trucks all the time. A bulbar, basically a battering ram, can be put on any car. So what’s to stop us from making our daily commute a little easier? Let us know if you take it upon yourself to turn your car into a self-driving car using the Neo Autopilot or something similar. We’d love to hear about it on social media.