American software startup Comma.ai has made its autonomous driving kit available to the public, with the system's software code and hardware plans being published on the internet for free download.
The company had planned to sell the system as an aftermarket add-on for certain Honda and Acura models under the 'Comma One' tag, but was blocked by authorities in the US. Upon announcing the new offering, Comma.ai boss George Hotz - the first hacker to unlock the original Apple iPhone - told Bloomberg, "we're not selling a product - we are just making plans available on the internet, which is a whole lot more like free speech."
Comma.ai is inviting programmers to work on the software, which is called Open Pilot, to expand the system's functionality and allow it to work with more Honda and Acura models and with cars from other manufacturers.
The software operates via a box of custom-made electronics called Neo that is mounted in place of the rear-view mirror. A Chinese-built OnePlus 3 Android smartphone, which is on sale in the UK for £329, must be mounted inside the box to provide camera inputs and processing power.