Comma.ai founder and former hacker, George Hotz, announced his company's after market self-driving car kit, the "Comma one," has been canceled following concern from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA worried the product might be used "in a manner that exceeds its intended purpose," placing users and other drivers in danger.
Photo courtesy of Comma.ai
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Comma.ai founder George Hotz announced he has canceled his project to create an after market self-driving car kit after government concern.
Hotz, who gained notoriety for jailbreaking the first iPhone, shared a series of tweets in response to a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expressing concerns about the safety of his San Francisco- based tech company's upcoming product.
"Got this in the mail today," he said. "First time I hear from them and they open with threats. No attempt at a dialog."
The letter stated Comma.ai's "Comma One", an after market add that would allow some Honda and Acura vehicles to operate in a semi-autonomous mode, could be dangerous to customers.
"We are concerned that your product would put the safety of your customers and other road users at risk," the letter stated. "We strongly encourage you to delay selling or deploying your product on the public roadways unless and until you can ensure it's safe."
In an Oct. 20 blog post regarding the safety and legality of the Comma One, Hotz stated the device would not "remove any of the driver's responsibilities from the task of driving," instead referring to its purpose as "lane keep assist" or "adaptive cruise control."
The NHTSA dismissed his claim as "insufficient," citing a high likelihood some drivers will use the product "in a manner that exceeds its intended purpose."
While the letter did not state Hotz was required to halt production, it did highlight his responsibility to ensure the product does not interfere with the required elements of certain automobile compliance laws.
It also warned of potential fines of up to $21,000 a day if Hotz did not fully reply to the requests by Nov. 10.
Hotz responded by announcing the Comma One is canceled and Comma.ai will explore other products and markets.
"Would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn't worth it," he said.