Building a Self-Driving Car in Your Garage

You can build a self-driving car in your garage–if you are a computer genius. George Hotz, a 26-year-old computer whiz who was the first person to unlock the iPhone when he was just 17 and later reverse engineered a PlayStation, has built a self-driving car. Though it has cost him about $50,000, most of which went for the car itself, his real goal is to design a hardware/software system that will turn any recent car into a self-driving car for very little money.

As described in the video above, rather than write a computer program with a zillion rules for driving, his method has been to teach his car how to drive by using other drivers as examples. Most self-driving cars use millions of lines of code; his uses just 2,000.

Hotz’s immediate goal is a “level 3” car that can drive 99 percent of the time. Although his test car uses a Lidar sensor (probably his second-biggest expense) for training purposes, he hopes to eventually market self-driving cars that use just six optical cameras that currently cost $13 each. With processors and software, he estimates the total cost of converting a recent car with electronic steering and other electronic controls will be about $1,000. You can read more about tests of Hotz’s car at Bloomberg Business.

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14 thoughts on “Building a Self-Driving Car in Your Garage

  1. OFP2003

    The American Way. An individual tinkering around will innovate something that will put huge industry out of business and shame huge government programs. For the price of a few feet of Maryland’s “Purple Line” trolley you can have your own driverless car.

  2. prk166

    This touches on one of the fundamental problems people have with imagining a self driving car. They believe that a human(s) have to explicitly write code that tells a computer exactly what to do. And then they have to cover every single possible use case with that code.

    For decades Computer Scientists have been playing with Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) . Getting AI to the point where Deep Blue ( or was it Big Blue? ) beat Kasporov in the late 90s was ___HUGE___. Since then AI — aka computer learning – has come so far that even today’s grandmaster, the most highly rated grandmaster ever, is like a 4 year old compared to the chess AI programs.

    Back when Kasporov lost to the AI program in the 90s, even with that victory man y predicted that an AI program would never be able to beat a master at an even more complex game like GO. Guess what? They now have too!

    AI has come a long, long way. Google isn’t just having it’s driverless cars driving around for the sake of testing, it’s mostly for the sake of __LEARNING__.

  3. prk166


    Also another reason to get back to low fees for education so graduating students are not in debt and can therefore start their own business easily.
    ” ~paul

    George Hotz is an excellent example of the exact opposite. Instead of focusing on cramming his brain with factoids for testing to get into XYZ school for his accreditation, he went out and did stuff that demonstrated an understanding of how things work far deeper than any book learning would give him.

    He hasn’t completed any credentials. Yet he’s creating AI that most PhD students couldn’t do in their wet dreams. Geroge Holtz isn’t in need of any credentials. His work, despite his young age, speaks for itself.

    George Holtz is an extreme example of the need for the self-learned to become bonafide, to be properly credentialed, without having to shell out $10k, 20k, 40k, / year for classes that don’t cover anything he hasn’t already learned how to do.

    It’s not just George Holtz that needs this. Today one can learn all the things it takes to be an accountant or software engineer via online courses. If they’re self motivated it can be done. They lack the socially desired credentials.

  4. AIG

    “George Holtz is an extreme example”

    Ugh….yeah. So there goes your whole argument. One extreme example of a genius, a model for the rest of society does not make.

    I love these arguments people on the internet make: “well college is useless! Look at Bill Gates!”. Yeah…but you’re too dumb to be Bill Gate. For us dummies, going to college is what is needed.

  5. AIG

    “Also another reason to get back to low fees for education so graduating students are not in debt and can therefore start their own business easily.”

    Ugh…Two problems here. First, college is extremely cheap. Average amount of debt students carry is about the price of a Toyota Camry. Hell, the average American will spend 10 times more in their lifetime on buying cars, then purchasing education.

    Second…if your argument is that somehow these kids are all going to go out en mass and create successful profitable businesses, then that’s even more reason to charge them more for education, not less. That’s how investment works: if you expect greater returns, it costs more.

    Of course, 99.99% of those kids would fail miserably and go bankrupt in 5 minutes if they opened their own business. One or two or 1,000 extreme examples, a means of organizing society does not make.

    Jesus H. Christ people.

  6. AIG

    “Well, it looks like another weak-a$$ troll with made up statistics like 99.99%. It calls others dumb while being only semi-literate. Weak.”

    Excellent response. Avoid the issue entirely, and just go directly to ad hominem. Do you have better expectations of success for “18 year olds” starting their own businesses? Please share with us these higher expectations.

    And if you have higher expectations, then isn’t that an argument for college costing more, rather than less? Greater probability of return.

    Not sure how the logic of telling people to forego a low-risk low-cost opportunity for high rewards (which college is), for an extremely high-risk high-cost opportunity, is doing 18 year olds any favors.

    Apparently you seem to think 18 year olds are just brimming with awesome self-taught knowledge and awesome business ideas, which unfortunately they can’t put into practice because the evil “man” puts them down by requiring credentials for hiring them. All this because 1 or 2 or 10 18 year olds happen to be geniuses. They’re called geniuses because they are extreme examples, not because they are something everyone else can emulate.

  7. Frank

    “Well, it looks like another weak-a$$ troll with made up statistics like 99.99%. It calls others dumb while being only semi-literate. Weak.”

    Excellent response. Avoid the issue entirely, and just go directly to ad hominem.

    It clearly doesn’t know the difference between name calling and ad hominem. Not surprising given that it is semi-literate.

    Apparently you seem to think 18 year olds are…”

    The only thing it could infer from my post is that it is a weak-a$$ troll that makes shit up just to have something to say.

    Yeah…but you’re too dumb to be Bill Gate. [sic] For us dummies, going to college is what is needed.

    At least it admits that it is a “dummy.”

    It really needs to up its game. This isn’t amateur hour.

  8. prk166

    “I love these arguments people on the internet make: “well college is useless! Look at Bill Gates!”. Yeah…but you’re too dumb to be Bill Gate. For us dummies, going to college is what is needed.
    ” AIG

    I would never say that college is useless. People need skills which people can pick up via college. Employers want those skills too. They’re not good at assessing them which is why they look for the credentials.

    Hotz is an extreme example in the sense of what he’s accomplished. He’s not a extreme example in that people can get a 1/4 of the computer science skills he has – a quarter of them would make one a good programmer – via self learning like he did. The problem those people run into today is they lack the credentials that college would give them. Design a system to accomplish equivalent credentials w/out the large expense of college and it would free up resources for other things.

  9. AIG

    “Design a system to accomplish equivalent credentials w/out the large expense of college and it would free up resources for other things.”

    And if my aunt had a ****, she’d be my uncle. All you said here is that if we could think of something better, then it would be better. Ok, great insight.

    “Hotz is an extreme example in the sense of what he’s accomplished. He’s not a extreme example in that people can get a 1/4 of the computer science skills he has – a quarter of them would make one a good programmer – via self learning like he did. The problem those people run into today is they lack the credentials that college would give them. ”

    Sorry but this doesn’t make much sense.

    A) If all these people are lacking is “credentials”, then they could open their own businesses and hire similar people to themselves. No one is stopping them

    b) That’s quite a big assumption that “people” can self-learn 1/4 of what he has. Who are these people? How many of them are there? You’re again using the example of extremes, to make a case about general society. Vast majority of people have no ability to “self-learn” much of anything, which is precisely why college is so valuable.

    c) Most importantly, as was mentioned in A), people who can do this already do this. Nothing is stopping you right now from self-learning 1/4 of what he knows. Absolutely nothing. You don’t need to worry about being employable by external employers: go start your own business, and hire similar people at a discount since other employers won’t hire them.

    Boom…instant cost advantage.

    I wonder why, then, no one else does this. I wonder why Microsoft only hires from the top of the top universities, even though its own founder was a college drop-out? Why doesn’t Bill Gates hire other college drop outs and “self-taught” people?

    D) The purpose of college is to speed up the learning process. Why would I want to learn something on my own, try and figure out what I should know, what I don’t know that I should know etc…when I can pay an expert to teach me in 1/10 the time that it would likely have take me to learn it. You think there is an advantage of learning calculus on your own, as an 18 year old, vs having a trained mathematician teach it to you?

    I can’t think of much in life that isn’t learned faster and more efficiently if taught by someone who already knows it well, vs. learning it from scratch.

    Yet somehow, so many people on the internet (the typical libertarians, usually), think the exact opposite. And yet, nothing is stopping them from proving the whole world wrong!

    PS: Frank, you seem mildly retarded. Seek help soon.

  10. msetty

    AIG-
    PS: Frank, you seem mildly retarded. Seek help soon.

    Now we know!

    And Metrosucky is quite socially retarded, grossly overreacting and thinking everyone who dares disagree with him is somehow related to the bad Eastern European communism his parents apparently experienced, and, though he didn’t experience it directly, projects onto everyone who thinks differently than him. Like people who’d like to finish the work of one FDR (e.g., Sanders) is somehow a boogeyman Commie komrad!

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