George Hotz: The man who wants to build his own self-driving car

17 Dec 2015

26-year-old American hacker George Hotz is aiming to beat the likes of Apple, Google and Baidu to the punch by developing his very own-self driving car and, worryingly for them, he’s already started.

If the name George Hotz seems strangely familiar, it might be because Hotz made the news nearly a decade ago after becoming the first person known to have hacked the then-seemingly impenetrable iPhone as a 17-year-old.

He was also single-handedly responsible for breaking the defences of the PlayStation 3 soon after it launched, but now he’s turning his attention from using hacking to break into things, to using it to create things.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Hotz revealed his plans to take an American Acura ILX saloon and fill it with his own hardware and software, developed by a company he has founded called, which could be capable of taking down the leading self-driving system currently being used by Tesla, that being, Mobileye.

He has even rigged up a gaming joystick as the control with which he can engage the self-driving system, to give a sense of what angle Hotz is going for here.

You can see how fearful Tesla is, with Bloomberg reporting that Elon Musk has offered Hotz a job working on its Autopilot software, but Hotz isn’t interested in working with the competition.

Confident or over-confident?

Hotz says that his own software differs from that of the established companies by using himself as the example on which his deep learning AI program will learn over time how to drive, which is certainly cheaper than a purely mathematical model.

The only problem being that self-driving cars are supposed to overcome the error-laden driving of human beings that leads to crashes and traffic jams.

He’s been working on the technology for over a month now – since October, to be exact – but has not solidified any plans of yet as to how he is going to commercialise a complete self-driving car it if he gets the technology to where he wants.

He does, however, have plans to release self-driving kits to the consumer to ‘self-drivify’ their current cars for around $1,000.

It’s clear that Hotz certainly thinks highly of himself, perhaps even a little too highly when it comes to the software: “I understand the state-of-the-art papers. The math is simple. For the first time in my life, I’m like, ‘I know everything there is to know’, ” he told Bloomberg.

George Hotz image via SHARE Conference/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic