PolySync Can Transform Your Kia Soul into an Autonomous Vehicle in Five Days

Sure, you can do it yourself. But you can also have the pros do it for you.

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If you know what you're doing, you can make your Kia Soul drive itself for less than $2,000 according David Sosnow, chief product officer for PolySync.

The company developed a platform used by manufacturers, researchers, and suppliers to test autonomous vehicle systems, and they recently turned it into an open source kit that anyone with the right background can use to build an autonomous car on their own.

The Open Source Car Controls (OSCC) acts as an interface to control the vehicles's systems, and users can build upon that by implementing their own algorithms. They released OSCC to the public on GitHub last year; the company also sells hardware kits (which include three PolySync motherboards) for $649. Additional hardware, such as brake actuators, an Arduino motherboard, and most importantly, the right car, is required.

Theoretically, the kit will work on any vehicle with electric steering and throttle-by-wire, Sosnow says, but it was designed for the Kia Soul specifically because model year 2014 or newer vehicles have electric power steering, throttle-by-wire, and ample cargo space for computers. Its low cost also made it possible for the start-up to build and test multiple vehicles, rather than blow $100,000 on a single custom car.

"If you understand mechanical systems and have a background in electrical engineering, you can build one on your own," he says, noting that it would be helpful to have multiple people for installation. However, he adds that some components, like brakes, may be better integrated at a race shop. Software, algorithms, sensors, cameras, and other custom requirements and specifications are also up to the consumer to implement.

But starting with a few motherboards and a handful of car parts can be a bit daunting. That's why PolySync offers "guided builds" at its facility in Portland, Oregon. Over the course of five to seven days, its engineers teach customers the build process that they later can implement at their own company.