Panda + Cabana Release

A car hackers toolkit

Matt Herich
Jul 7, 2017 · 3 min read

Self driving cars have just gotten a whole lot easier to DIY. comma ai has officially started selling their universal car interface called panda which gives you access to the following communication buses on your car with a phone or computer:

  • 3x CAN
  • 2x LIN
  • 1x GMLAN

It’s $88 with free shipping anywhere in the world and can be purchased at starting today. More detailed information on panda can be found on the sale page. That’s only half the story though, keep reading to learn more about Cabana.

Panda OBD Dongle

Right now there’s only a select few Honda, Acura and Chevy models which are compatible with Comma’s openpilot driving agent however panda + cabana will change that. It really is like fitbit for your car! With these tools you can figure out what each signal your car sends means and eventually enable self driving functionality. Bounties are being awarded to those who successfully port openpilot to a new car. For a list of current bounties go here:

What is Cabana

Cabana allows you to inspect, label and plot the data collected by panda which can then be saved to a dbc. The nice thing is that it’s synced with chffr video which allows for an extremely user friendly reverse engineering experience. You can scrub through video segments to target a specific driving event such as braking and associate the CAN messages for it. The gif below demonstrates this with a graph of what seems to be brake pressure.

I’ve been playing with Cabana for a week now and coming in with no prior experience with CAN sniffing software I can say it’s not hard at all to get started. I’ll list the main features you’ll have access to below but you should just start playing around with it for yourself here to fully appreciate its glory.

Everything you need to interpret the messages on your car’s CAN/LIN/GMLAN buses are at your fingertips with Cabana. The interface is very clean and intuitive so you can pick up and start using it quickly. Cabanas main features include:

  • Label message ID’s and signals
  • Plot data
  • Scrub through chffr synced video
  • Save dbc to computer or github
  • and much more

Cabana can be accessed through your driving explorer by clicking on any of your purple checkmarks (chffr drives connected to panda). Opendbc is where you should send all valid dbcs. By the way if you don’t already use chffr, download it for Android or iOS at and start recording your drives and earning comma points! An ICO was hinted at on twitter so that’s even more reason to download and start using it.

Good luck to all who decide to endeavor into the brave new world of self driving cars. It’s up to the community to contribute and bring ghost riding to the masses, will you choose to be a part of it?

I will be documenting my progress with 2016 Chevy Cruze, 2016 Mazda 6 and 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid on medium as I decipher the languages they speak so be sure to follow!

Matt Herich

Written by

Entrepreneur, Web Developer, Tech Enthusiast

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