You don't have to be a billionaire investor to get involved with the development of self-driving cars. Thanks to George Hotz and his company, Comma.ai, all you need is a cell phone, a windshield mount and Hotz's own Chffr app.
Chffr is available only for Android phones at the moment. After downloading it, mount your camera on the windshield and open the app. Chffr records your drive and watches along as you navigate around bicyclists, wait for cars at stop signs and other daily traffic-related occurrences. It uploads that data to Comma.ai's servers, which compiles all the data it receives to help its autonomous-driving kit learn to mimic human behavior.
For using Chffr, you'll earn something called "Comma Points." Nobody's really sure what the points are for, but for the time being, they're reflected on a leaderboard on Comma.ai's site, so you can see who's doing the best job at contributing. Right now, friend of Roadshow Alex Roy is in second place, and George Hotz himself is down in ninth.
Google's doing plenty of legwork in this regard, as well, but with billions of dollars and thousands of engineers at its disposal, it's not necessarily on the same playing field as the small-staffed Comma.ai. Nevertheless, both companies, and others, are trying to accelerate machine learning to help the development of autonomous vehicles.