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!


Many adults believe fully self-driving cars are already traversing U.S. highways

The American Automobile Association tested cars with features such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control and found them lacking in real-world conditions. Forty percent of surveyed U.S. adults think self-driving cars exist now.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Smart Home

Wynd’s new air-purifying bundle lets smart home owners breathe easier

Wynd is already well known in the tech industry for its popular Kickstarter-backed air purifier and now the company is launching two new products designed to improve air quality to inform smart home owners.

Lyft’s new rewards program promises ride discounts and comfier cars

If you're always hopping in and out of a Lyft car, then you'll be pleased to hear that the ridesharing service is about to launch a rewards program. Perks include discounts on future trips and upgrades to comfier cars.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!