George “Geohot” Hotz, the first person to jailbreak an iPhone back in 2007, is looking to deliver aftermarket self-driving car technology this year, but he needs help with that. Hotz has launched a new app called Chffr (like chauffeur) that lets users submit their driving data.
“Chffr is like a cross between Dropcam and Fitbit,” says CNET. “Open the app and mount your camera on your windshield, and it will record all your driving data — things like how you react to other cars and bicyclists, your average speed and your braking and acceration [sic] patterns.”
Chffr then uploads your data to Comma.ai, the company owned by Hotz that is looking to make self-driving car technology more accessible with kits that can be fitted to any car. The data is then analyzed alongside that of other drivers to help Comma.ai’s technology learn.
Comma.ai needs as much data as it can get. Without it, its technology can’t learn, and won’t be fit for everyday use. Hotz is still confident Comma.ai can deliver its first kit by the end of 2016, but beta versions of the Chffr app won’t be available until the end of June.
To encourage the use of Chffr, Comma.ai offers “Comma Points,” which are awarded every minute you have the app active on the road. Hotz won’t tell us what those points can be used for yet, but he did say that “you’ll be so happy you have Comma Points” in a couple of months.
After taking a ride with Hotz in his self-driving Acura ILX, CNET says his technology made “more aggressive choices” than other self-driving cars they’ve been in, “but it still remained a safe distance behind the lead car.”
“It still seems to have some trouble recognizing a stopped vehicle from a long distance away, forcing Hotz to intervene with manual braking, but did just fine approaching and stopping behind a stopped car at slower speeds,” the report adds.
Here’s CNET’s video in which Hotz takes them for a ride.
The technology is still in the prototyping stages at the moment, but when it goes on sale, it will cost less than $1,000, and it will be “as easy to set up as a piece of IKEA furniture,” Hotz says. The technology won’t be ready for city driving until it gets an update in 2017.
We’ll have to wait and see what kind of developments Comma.ai makes between now and the end of the year.