Bloomberg recently ran a profile on George Hotz, a.k.a GeoHot, better known as the first man to jailbreak an iPhone and also get in hot soup for jailbreaking the PlayStation 3. Nevertheless he’s hailed as a brilliant hacker and the profile shed light on a new project that he’s working on: a self-driving car, on his own. Tesla was mentioned in that piece a couple of times and that’s why today it has issued a “correction” to set the record straight.
Hotz has been working on his self-driving car alone, it’s a modified Acura sedan with hardware and custom code that enables it to learn how Hotz drives and then use that data to drive itself.
He’s said to have a bet with Tesla CEO Elon Musk that his system will beat MobilEye that provides some technology for Tesla’s Autopilot system. That’s what Tesla initially focuses on in the correction. The company says that it finds it “extremely unlikely” that a single person or even a small company can produce a self-driving system that can be deployed on production cars without having “extensive engineering validation capability.”
“This is the true problem of autonomy: getting a machine learning system to be 99% correct is relatively easy, but getting it to be 99.9999% correct, which is where it ultimately needs to be, is vastly more difficult,” it adds. The company also clarifies that it has designed and developed the Autopilot system in-house, saying that it’s not simply repackaging a vendor’s technology as mentioned in the profile, otherwise it would not be offering this “groundbreaking experience’ in its production cars.
Whether or not the system Hotz is developing really turns out to be something useful remains to be seen, but it’s interesting to note that Tesla found this piece worthy enough for an official rebuttal, even if that made it seem like a behemoth breathing down the neck of a one-man show.