Comma.AI, a startup run by famous hacker George Hotz, has shut down its project dedicated to building a Tesla-like semi-autonomous driving system after a warning from the federal government.
The startup tweeted Thursday night that it was cancelling Comma One, its semi-autonomous driving add-on that was said to give vehicles similar capabilities to Tesla's Autopilot.
The device, which was set to retail at $999, included front radar sensors and a camera. The Comma One would initially work on a select number of vehicles, but Comma.AI would gradually increase the number of cars it could work on.
The cancellation was prompted by a letter Comma.AI received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which asked the startup to provide information to ensure the product's safety or face civil penalties of up to $21,000 a day.
Comma.AI tweeted that the Comma One product was cancelled as a result and would be pursuing "other products and markets."
Hotz is best known as the first person to hack the iPhone when he was 17, allowing people to use the phone on other networks aside from AT&T's. He also broke into the PlayStation 3 in 2010 when he was 20.
But Hotz first made headlines for his intention to enter the self-driving car space when Bloomberg published a lengthy feature about him building a self-driving car in his garage last December. That article mentioned an email between Hotz and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, where Musk offered him a "multimillion-dollar bonus" to build the product in-house as a replacement for Mobileye.
Musk wrote in a blog post that the article was inaccurate and that Tesla found it "extremely unlikely that a single person or even a small company that lacks extensive engineering validation capability will be able to produce an autonomous driving system that can be deployed to production vehicles."
Mobileye is no longer a supplier for Tesla's Autopilot following a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S that had Autopilot activated. Mobileye said Tesla was "pushing the envelope in terms of safety" following the crash and ensuing break with Tesla.
You can read the NHTSA letter to Comma.AI below:
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