Homebrew self-driving tech gets millions in backing

Prominent venture capital firm puts money behind George Hotz's autonomous vehicle kit project.

George "Geohot" Hotz's attempt to put cheap, self-driving tech into any existing car raised eyebrows (and Tesla's ire) when it was revealed late last year. Now, one of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capital funds is throwing its wallet behind Hotz's grand idea. Andreessen Horowitz has written a check for $3.1 million to help Hotz hire engineers and turn his jury-rigged system into a working product. He's joining some illustrious company, since the fund has previously handed cash to outfits like Oculus VR, Zynga, Instagram, Groupon, Jawbone and something called Twitter.

Those with long memories will know Hotz from his days as Geohot, the hacker that cracked the iPhone and PlayStation 3. The engineer has founded a company, Comma, on the principle that cheap sensors and machine learning makes it possible to make a system for a few thousand bucks. It's a claim that Tesla was quick to trash, saying that while it's easy to build a system for a "known stretch of road," a real self-driving car is a much harder proposition. Still, if the folks at Horowitz are opening their bank accounts, even slightly, then they must feel differently.