Who will win the driverless car race?
Philip Ellison 17 December, 2015 at 12:12
Now that hover-boards are kind of a thing (as Back To The Future II predicted), we can go into 2016 with a new “wouldn’t that be cool” tech obsession; self-driving cars.
Google’s autonomous vehicles have been on the roads in California and Texas for some time. Now, Google parent company Alphabet plans to launch an Uber-esque car hire service next year. An unnamed source has stated that self-contained locations such as college campuses, office parks and military bases are likely testing grounds.
“By challenging ride-sharing pioneers like Uber and Lyft Inc., as well as traditional taxis, Google is providing the clearest indication yet how it plans to make money from self-driving automotive technologies that it began testing in 2009,” says Bloomberg Business.
Elsewhere, 26-year-old hacker George Hotz has announced that he is working on his own Linux-operated version of the technology. Hotz first gained notoriety in 2007, when he became the first person to successfully hack the iPhone (at the age of 19, no less). He invited journalist Ashlee Vance to his home to see the autonomous Acura in the garage for herself; she calls it his “most audacious hack yet.”
Google has been working on self-driving vehicles since 2009. Hotz started his project in October — and it works. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, Hotz’s system is not pre-programmed, but rather is based in artificial intelligence deep learning. Hotz has stated that he intends to start working as an Uber driver in order to begin the learning process.
“The problem may be that an optimal self-driving car doesn’t always behave like a human driver — human drivers make mistakes, and many of us simply aren’t very good drivers in the first place,” says The Verge’s Chris Ziegler. “But perhaps substantial learning from a wide set of drivers would even it out over time.”
Hotz has even received a personal email from Teslon Motors’ Elon Musk, offering him a multi-million dollar job, which he declined. “I appreciate the offer,” he claims to have replied, “but like I’ve said, I’m not looking for a job. I’ll ping you when I crush Mobileye.” Instead he has decided to forge ahead solo, under the company name “comma.ai”. “Of course there will be scepticism,” he says. “This is part of a great adventure. All I can say is, watch.”