A college student turned his Honda Civic into a self-driving car for $700

College students are permanently broke, constantly having to sacrifice the finer things in life (meals) in favor of the bare essentials (beer). By facing those hardships, few students are likely to be able to afford a self-driving car anytime soon. Can those college smarts be put to better use?

That was the case for Brevan Jorgenson. A senior at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, Jorgenson is the proud owner of a self-driving Honda Civic — and all it cost him was $700 (plus the cost of the car itself).

His newly autonomous set of wheels are due to his decision to become an early beta tester for Comma Neo, the self-driving car kit developed by former teen hacker George Hotz, now CEO and founder of Comma.ai.

“For the beta test stage you just downloaded their beta Android app Chffr, and let it record your driving with a suction phone mount,” Jorgenson told Digital Trends. “I did that for a few months, and in that time I was offered a promotion from student worker to full-time employee [at my job]. With my new income, I decided to buy the 2016 Honda Civic Touring in March. In September, I saw an article with a picture of a 2016 Honda Civic in the background of George Hotz’s garage. I got really excited because I knew that might mean that he is working on getting a Comma system working for my car. I could not believe that the exact car model I bought by coincidence was going to work on the Comma system I was a beta tester for months before [I had bought it.]”

self driving honda civic 700 img 20170215 172643

Last November, Comma open-sourced everything necessary to get the 2016 Civic Touring and Acura ILX running the technology. This came after it suddenly abandoned earlier plans to sell the Comma Neo hardware and software to customers as a $1,000 unit, following concerns from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Jorgenson immediately ordered the necessary parts to build his own Neo device, based on plans he found online and Comma’s free software. The finished unit he assembled includes a OnePlus 3 smartphone running Comma’s Openpilot code, circuit board, and a 3D-printed case.

Having already put his autonomous car through its paces on the open road, Jorgenson next plans to use his kitted-out car to drive (or, at least, to have it drive him) the 7.5-hour journey from Omaha, Nebraska, to Denver so he can visit his girlfriend in March.

We guess that rocking up in a self-driving car is one way to impress the object of your affections. Back in our day, we just stood outside bedroom windows holding up a boombox!


4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives

Meet four women leaders who are not only at the forefront of technology today, but also using tech — from robotics and medicine to food and undergarments — to help others.

Volvo wants to use speed limiters, in-car cameras, and data to reduce crashes

Volvo believes new tech is the best way to improve car safety. The Swedish automaker will let owners set speed limits when loaning out their cars, install cameras to monitor drivers, and use data to design better safety features.

Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.