Watch an Infamous Hacker Take His DIY Self-Driving Car for a Test Drive

In this video from Bloomberg, infamous hacker Geohot unveils his latest project—a self-hacked Acura ILX.

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Dec 16 2015, 4:10pm

One of Silicon Valley's biggest whiz kids has been toiling away in secrecy on a project that he believes is going to make him "the next billion-dollar CEO."

The man is George Hotz, and the project is a self-driving car that he thinks can blow Tesla out of the water. According to Hotz, Mobileye, the self-driving software used by Tesla Motors, BMW, et al is outdated and "behind the times." Hotz says Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told him he "should just work at Tesla," and Hotz said thanks but no thanks. "I'll ping you when I crush Mobileye."

For those unfamiliar with Hotz's resume, he was the first to hack the iPhone, as well as the first person to hack the Playstation. In this short video produced by Bloomberg, Businessweek reporter Ashlee Vance visits Hotz to preview his newest creation, a 2016 Acura ILX that he has outfitted with self-driving technology he's developed himself, including a laser-based radar (lidar) system, a camera, and a massive 21.5-inch screen showing the operating system of the car's computer, which is based on Linux.

Hotz takes Vance for a test run, without telling him that the first time he'd gotten it to work was that same morning. After the car veers close to an SUV on California's Interstate 280, it corrects itself. "I'm not a real car guy, but I'm a computer guy," Hotz tells Vance. "Cars are computers."

Hotz's endgame is to make the equipment needed to turn a car into a self-driving vehicle much simpler and intuitive. He uses the lidar system to capture how others drive, "training" the car's AI so it learns to drive not by following a set of prescribed rules, but from observing how actual human beings drive.

In the future, he believes his cars will only need a half-dozen cameras to see what's on the road, and that his software will cover everything else—as Vance tells us, this would put the complete cost of the self-driving package at a mere $1,000.

Finally, Hotz gives Vance a shot at testing the car himself. "This is driving, man," Vance says, stretching out and putting his hands behind his head.