Comma.ai is an autonomous driving company that has just announced its 4th generation hardware, known as the Comma Three. This dev kit was announced during the recent Comma_Con conference in San Diego.
The new device is around the size of a modern smartphone and has many of the same internals. This is actually specialised hardware, specifically engineered for the task of helping the millions of existing cars to drive safer. The list of support vehicles is really comprehensive.
If the driver assists systems in your car are terrible, then you may be the exact target audience for this device. After buying the Comma Three, you follow the installation guide to install it in your vehicle, connecting it into your car’s CAN Bus which enables it to input steering, throttle and brake applications on your behalf.
To achieve this, the new hardware is a substantial upgrade over the previous generation, with dual cam 360° vision, plus a narrow cam to spot objects far off in the distance. The three 1080p cameras have 120 dB of dynamic range (up from 85), two generations ahead of a leading electric car maker. It’s as connected as a cell phone, with WiFi, LTE, and way better high precision GPS. The device features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and comes with a choice of storage sizes, 250GB or 1TB, both of which use a Samsung 980 NVMe SSD and finally a USB3.1 port.
Comma Three is a substantial upgrade from the last generation with a great display, infrared sensors and cameras, it now looks a lot closer to a commercial product, than a development kit.
The OLED display is impressive, offering 2160×1080 resolutions and shows a view from the camera out your front window, augmented with an overlay of the software’s path planning based on what’s around it, as well as navigation instructions.
By combining the cameras, Comma is able to construct a 360 view of the car. The interior-facing part of that is important to perform driver monitoring, ensuring that drivers are still paying attention when the system is active on the highway and your hands are off the wheel (remember your local laws may vary).
Also inside the Comma Three, you’ll find an AR0231 automotive sensor, which you can read more about here, but during the announcement event, founder George Hotz claimed it’s 2 generations ahead of Teslas.
This hardware combines with open-source software known as openpilot, and you can find the GitHub repo here. This software is constantly being upgraded by Comma.ai thanks to input from the community.
After you install the Comma Three in your car, along with the necessary wiring harness, download and install the software, you have a system that will perform similarly to Tesla Autopilot and GM Super Cruise. openpilot can steer, accelerate, and brake automatically for other vehicles within its lane.
The system isn’t exactly cheap, with Comma Three starting at US$2,199 and another US$200 for the car harness. At A$3245.40 before shipping (from the US) and GST (another 10%), you really would need to be doing a lot of driving to make this make sense.
You can watch the Comma.ai presentation from COMMA_CON below.