This week [Geohot] announced the launch of his self-driving car hardware. This is the natural extension of his proof-of-concept shown off in December which he parlayed into a Silicon Valley startup called comma.ai. [Geohot], whose real name is [George Hotz], is well known for jailbreaking the iPhone and making Sony look like idiots when they retroactively crippled Linux support on PS3. He has hardware chops.
Initial self-driving add-on hardware only works with Honda and Acura models that already have lane-keeping assist features because those vehicles already have built-in front radar. The package, which replaces the rear view mirror, adds a front facing camera. Those lucky (or brave, foolish, daring?) beta users can trade $999 and $24/month for what is currently a green 3D printed enclosure with some smartphone-like hardware inserted.
The company has taken an interesting approach to acquiring data needed for this particular flavor of self-driving. [Hotz] is teasing a chance at beta test invites to those who contribute driving data to the company. This is as simple as downloading an app to your phone and letting it roll from your windshield as you go bumper to bumper from Mountain View to San Francisco. That’s right, the plan is to support just that stretch of the nation’s highway system — although [Hotz] did make a brazen estimate of 90% of commutes for 90% of users within a year. Hey, it’s a startup so it’s either that, selling to a bigger fish, or closing their doors.
That narrow route support is actually an interesting constraint. In fact, the company is most interesting because of its chosen constraints: a small subset of cars, a chosen stretch of highway, and dare we say sanity when it comes to self-driving expectations. Grandiose claims have the general public thinking a vehicle with no human driver will slide up to your stoop and take you anywhere you want to go. That is a dauntingly difficult engineering challenge (dare we say impossible). What [Hotz] is selling is a more stress-free commute, not a nap in the back seat. You still need to be paying attention at all times.
Will this system work? Undoubtedly the engineering is possible (Tesla is already doing it). The biggest question mark that remains is human nature. This system demands your attention even though you’re doing nothing. That seems unrealistic — users are bound to lapse in attention much more frequently than if they were the primary driver. The question then becomes, will people pay attention at the very rare yet very crucial moments, and can a system like this prevent more fatal accidents than it causes?
[George Hotz], better known by his hacker moniker [GeoHot], was the first person to successfully hack the iPhone — now he’s trying his hand at building his very own self-driving vehicle.
The 26-year-old already has an impressive rap sheet, being the first to hack the PS3 when it came out, and to be sued because of it.
According to Bloomberg reporter [Ashlee Vance], [George] built this self driving vehicle in around a month — which, if true, is pretty damn incredible. It’s a 2016 Acura ILX with a lidar array on its roof, as well as a few cameras. The glove box has been ripped out to house the electronics, including a mini-PC, GPS sensors, and network switches. A large 21.5″ LCD screen sits in the dash, not unlike the standard Tesla affair.
Oh, and it runs Linux. Continue reading “Self-Driving Acura, Built in a Garage”
What would you pay for a 1.2Ghz dual-core ARM computer with 1GB RAM, 4GB onboard flash, 800×600 display, and 5 megapixel camera? Did we mention it also has WiFi, Bluetooth, and is a low power design, including a lithium battery which will run it for hours? Does $15 sound low enough? That’s what you can pay these days for an Android cell phone. The relentless march of economies of scale has finally given us cheap phones with great specs. These are prepaid “burner” phones, sold by carriers as a loss leader. Costs are recouped in the cellular plan, but that only happens if the buyer activates said plan. Unlike regular cell phones, you aren’t bound by a contract to activate the phone. That means you get all those features for $15-$20, depending on where you buy it.
The specs I’m quoting come from the LG Optimus Exceed 2, which is currently available from Amazon in the USA for $20. The same package has been available for as little as $10 from retail stores in recent weeks. The Exceed 2 is just one of several low-cost Android prepaid phones on the market now, and undoubtedly the list will change. How to keep up with the current deals? We found an unlikely place. Perk farmers. Perk is one of those “We pay you to watch advertisements” companies. We’re sure some people actually watch the ads, but most set up “farms” of drone phones which churn through the videos. The drones earn the farmer points which can be converted to cash. How does this all help us? In order to handle streaming video, Perk farmers want the most powerful phones they can get for the lowest investment. Subreddits like /r/perktv have weekly “best deals” posts covering prepaid phones. There are also tutorials on rooting and debloating current popular phones like the Whirl 2 and the Exceed 2.
Continue reading “Want a low-cost ARM platform? Grab a Prepaid Android Phone!”
It looks like Sony and [George Hotz] have reached an out-of-court settlement in the case brought against the hacker who is more well-known as [Geohot].
This is the end (we think) of an ongoing saga that originally drew our ire when Sony removed OtherOS support as a sledge-hammer-type fix for holes that [Geohot] found in the security system used by PlayStation 3 hardware. Our beef with that move is that it punished people who bought a PS3 knowing that it could run Linux natively, only to have that rug retroactively pulled out from under them. [Geohot] then went on to publish details that allow those with the proper skills to leave a smoldering pile of slag where Sony’s hardware security used to reside.
They slapped him with a lawsuit for publishing those details. This settlement doesn’t have him admitting any wrongdoing. We’re not going to editorialize on the morals or ethics of [George’s] actions, but we do still think that Sony greatly overreacted at several points along this unfortunate string of events.
If you’ve been waiting in the wings for the next Jailbreak to be release you should know there’s been a bit of a speed bump. [ChronicDevTeam], which has been working on an exploit for A4-based iOS devices called SHAtter, tweeted last Thursday that the fully tested, untethered, and unpatchable package knows as greenpois0n would be released today. But on Friday [Geohot], who you may remember from the PlayStation 3 Hypervisor exploit, rolled out his own mostly untested and admittedly beta jailbreak called limera1n.
So where does that leave the situation? Because [geohot] used a different exploit, the [ChronicDevTeam] decided not to release greenp0ison. If they did, it would give Apple a chance to block two different exploits. Instead they are working feverishly to incorporate, test, and repackage using the same exploit as limera1n.
If you don’t want to wait, jailbreak now, but you risk problems with an unstable exploit method that is only available for Windows.
[Geohot] came up with a patch that allows OtherOS on 3.21 PS3 firmware. You’ll remember that Sony released version 3.21 specifically to prohibit OtherOS which allows the installation of Linux for which they were subsequently sued. Well, now their “fix” doesn’t work on people willing to flash patched firmware which means they’re only punishing those who play by the rules. Ugh.
Wondering why this is a big deal? Check out this article on the effect Sony’s move has on PS3 clusters used for supercomputing; something we hadn’t even thought of initially.
It turns out that this patch was released more than a month ago. Sorry for the late coverage but it’s new to us. You can see the obligatory proof video of the patched OtherOS after the break.
Continue reading “PS3 patch allows Linux installation”