Tesla, the electric car maker, and tech firms like Google and Baidu are all competing to deliver the world’s first fully autonomous vehicles. But 26-year-old hacker George Hotz has already succeeded in making a 2016 Acura ILX drive on its own by putting in one month’s hard work in his garage all alone. And Tesla doesn’t seem to like this.
Tesla refutes Hotz’s claims
In a blog post, (Correction to article: “The First Person to Hack the iPhone Built a Self-Driving Car”) Tesla refuted Hotz’s claims, saying, “It is extremely unlikely that a single person or even a small company that lacks extensive engineering validation capability will be able to produce an autonomous driving system that can be deployed to production vehicles.”
The EV firm further said that the system developed by Hotz might work on a known stretch of road, but it lacks the technological resources required for driving across millions of miles.
Hotz is an engineer who is famous for being the first person to hack the iPhone and PlayStation 3. Bloomberg published an interview with Hotz covering how his self-driving car kit can be retrofitted into existing vehicles. Hotz took a dig at Tesla’s own autopilot hardware in the interview, and this might have infuriated CEO Elon Musk.
Hotz also raised a question about Mobileye, a supplier of components for self-driving cars to Tesla and other car makers. Hotz said the technology was outdated in comparison to even what he could manage in his garage with off-the-shelf parts.
Is Tesla afraid of Hotz’s tech?
Though the points made by Tesla might be correct, the company fails to acknowledge the efforts put in by Hotz which brought him so close to besting their multi-million dollar in-house self-driving tech in a short time of just about 30 days, and that too by using cheap off-the-shelf parts. Hotz admitted that the approach he adopted could be well off the mark, but sometimes a fresh set of eyes and a different way of going about it is needed to solve a difficult problem.
Tesla, in trying to highlight via its blog post that its own driving systems are vastly superior to Hotz’s garage project, might have inadvertently shown that it is not able to digest the fact that a lone hacker possibly has what is needed to change the world and is thus feeling threatened.