Everyone and anyone seems to have an idea about what the ideal self-driving vehicle should be like, but only few are able to turn those into reality. Startup comma.ai only knows that too well. It’s plans were more or less dashed when the NHTSA put down its foot, only to resurface in open source form. comma.ai, however, never really gave up on the dream and has just taken one step closer to becoming the “Android of self-driving cars” with the launch of its EON Dashcam.
Knowing that it would not be able to build a self-driving car system wholesale, comma.ai decided to take a piecemeal approach. First it open sourced its self-driving agent, which became the core of its chffr and chffrplus software. It then launched panda, an OBD II plugin for getting data about your car.
Now it is bringing out EON, a hardware dashcam that you can just put on your dashboard or hang on your windshield. Given hits brush with authorities, it adopts a tagline that clarifies that it isn’t designed to drive a car but to be a dashcam only.
It is, however, no simple dashcam. It runs an Android-based NEOS operating system, which users access not just to comma’s chffrplus but also to apps like Spotify and Waze. And while standalone, comma is positioning it as an integral part of its ecosystem, uploading data to its cloud, gathering sensor data via panda, or even reading radar information from compatible cars with giraffe.
This ecosystem is what comma.ai hopes will help make it become the Android of self-driving cars. It wants to be the Google that stands up to the Teslas and Apples of the self-driving market and to offer users a self-driving experience without having to sell an arm and a leg.