George Hotz, a 27-year-old Carnegie Mellon dropout who is turning America’s public roads into his own personal laboratory. As founder of Comma.ai, Hotz helms a Bay Area startup circumventing companies developing self-driving cars like Tesla and Waymo by giving people the technology to do it themselves. Last November, he gave his technology away for free, releasing an open- source, self-driving platform called Openpilot. He also released open-source plans for Neo, a smartphone-powered device which plugs into certain compatible Honda and Acura models, and can control the car’s gas, brakes, and steering, and navigate using Openpilot.
“Self-driving cars need nothing but engineers in order to solve it. It does not need manufacturers, regulators, any of these people,” says Hotz. “The best thing they can do is stay out of the way of the engineers.”