Udacity Debuts Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree

(Photo: Medium)

(Photo: Medium)

Online education leader Udacity, which offers online courses for careers in technology, has announced plans to include a new specialty curriculum that will allow participants to become self-driving car engineers.

Up until now, the company’s nanodegrees have typically focused on fundamental coding, including writing Android apps.  However, according to the listing on Udacity’s website, the new training program will take participants twelve months to complete.  Meanwhile, the typical nanodegree program takes an average of a few months to complete.

The Udacity website reports the base salary for self-driving car engineers to be between $66,800 and $210,000, with the average being $138,000.  It calls self-driving cars “one of the most significant advances in modern history” which will go beyond technology, transportation, and urban planning to influence the daily lives on individuals in ways that are yet to be seen.

The course offers participants the opportunity to master a number of technologies necessary for the sector.  These will be accomplished through interactive projects in computer vision, robotic controls, localization, and path planning, among other things.

The nanodegree program comes with a project portfolio, personalized feedback on course progress, a verified Nanodegree credential, coach-supported forums, and a curriculum designed by Sebastian Thrun, one of the pioneers of the self-driving car.

In order to enroll in the program, participants are expected to have prior experience in Python or a similar scripting language.  In addition, should have at least some background in probability and statistics and calculus.  If a user is in need of a statistics refresher, Udacity can offer their Intro to Statistics course.  Foundational Python programming concepts should also be learned prior to enrollment, which can be accomplished through the Programming Foundations with Python course on Udacity.

Course projects will be submitted through GitHub.  Participants must have a GitHub handle and have an understanding of how to share code prior to enrollment.  Udacity suggests completing their course How to Use Git and GitHub in order to accomplish this.

“From the fundamentals to the cutting edge of deep learning, computer vision, and robotics, this is the best way to become a self-driving car engineer. I am incredibly excited to get you started in this Nanodegree,” said course instructor David Silver.

The new program was introduced by Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun, who was previously a founding member of Google’s self-driving car team.  According to Bloomberg, Thrun is currently in charge of one of Larry Page’s self-flying car companies on the side, writes Mark Bergen for Recode.

“There is an enormous market for self-driving car engineers,” Thrun says in a short video. “Lots and lots of companies that you wouldn’t expect are entering the field and are massively hiring.”

Thrun’s expertise on the subject is expected to help the new endeavor ensure it contains solid educational material.  The nanodegree program offered through Udacity, which runs as a shortened, self-directed diploma, has received high praise from companies such as Google, which is a partner for some of the programs, writes Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch.