College Student Modified A Honda Civic Into A Self-Driving Vehicle For $700 [Video]By Mark Spencer, UniversityHerald Reporter
Brevan Jorgenson, a senior student at the University of Nebraska, Omaha is a proud owner of a self-driving Honda Civic, and it cost him a measly $700.
College students live to sacrifice the finer things life has to offer in order to favor providing for the bare necessities in while attending university. Many would not even afford the luxury of driving in their own cars, much more a self-driving one.
Apparently, for Jorgensen, one does not need a Tesla when he can build his own automated system by using free hardware designs and he picked off from the internet. According to Digital Trends, Jorgensen's motivation and interest started when he decided to be an early beta tester for Comma Neo.
George Hotz, a former teen hacker notoriously known for jailbreaking iPhones and PlayStations, and current CEO and founder of Comma.ai, developed the self-driving kit. Jorgensen said beta testers were required to download the beta Android app Chffr, which records driving via a suction phone mount for a few months.
During the testing months, he was offered full-time worker status and bought the 2016 Honda Civic Touring from his income in March. His excitement heightened when he saw an article on Hotz with a 2016 Honda Civic. Apparently, the Honda Civic happens to be one of two compatible car models that can use the system - the other is the 2016 Acura ILX, according to Science Alert.
Back in October, Comma.ai made the technology open source, and put it online along with plans for a hardware module and rebranded the kit as Comma Neo. Jorgensen then used the open source plans and spent $700 in parts the same day Hotz dumped the plans online.
The Comma Neo is built from a OnePlus 3 smartphone with Comma.ai's free Openpilot software, a circuit board that connects the phone to the car's electronics, and a 3D printed case. Jorgensen had the case printed by an online service. He soldered the board to the car himself.
The Neo controls the brakes, steering, accelerator, and can "sense" obstructions and other cars around it. He took his Honda Civic for its first test-drive in January after an evening college class.
The device supposedly phenomenally, however, there were times the Neo would pull to the right. A software update from Comma quickly fixed the problem. Apparently, the working system is now similar to the initial version and capabilities of Tesla's Autopilot.
Jorgensen believes self-driving cars are the future, and he wants to be a part of making that a reality. Also, he want people to alleviate their fears of the technology by having them drive around or even test drive the car to let them see it works. He now plans to put his car to further testing on the open road, by having it drive him from Omaha, Nebraska, to Denver to visit his girlfriend this March.