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Comma.ai developer kills semi-autonomous device after NHTSA request

29 October 2016 - Autoblog

Comma.ai developer kills semi-autonomous device after NHTSA request

George Hotz, founder of Comma.ai and creator of the comma one semi-autonomous add-on, got a cold splash of auto industry reality this week. His planned introduction of the device attracted the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which had some concerns about the product.

he organization brought these issues to Hotz in a letter, recommending he delay introduction of the product and requiring him to provide information.

Hotz then cancelled the project completely. He made the announcement on Twitter, saying that he "would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers." He also complained that the first time he heard from the organization was with this letter and what he called a "threat."

Would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn't worth it. -GH 2/3

The thing is, Hotz posted the letter, and contrary to his opinion, NHTSA comes across as more than reasonable. For instance, NHTSA wasn't forbidding Hotz from selling the product. The organization emphasized its opinion that it should be delayed, but Hotz still could have continued with his product roll-out. NHTSA was seeking more information on the autonomous device, such as how it will be installed, how it will work, what vehicles and conditions it operates in, and what emergency safety features or procedures are included, among other things. If Hotz missed the reply deadline of November 10, he could have been fined up to $21,000 per day, which is probably what he referred to as a "threat."

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