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Udacity partners with Mercedes-Benz, Nvidia and others to offer a ‘self-driving car’ nanodegree

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Udacity is coming up with yet another out-of-the-box, futuristic nanodegree — Self driving car. Yep. The company has now partnered with some of the biggest players in the autonomous vehicles space to offer a nanodegree program to users who aspire to become a self driving car engineer. Yes, self-driving car engineer!! Sounds cool, right!?

To offer self-driving car nanodegree, Udacity has partnered with Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Didi Chuxing, Otto(now owned by Uber), and Nvidia.

The partners of the program will now work with Udacity in order to set up a curriculum that includes courses on sensor fusion, situation assessment, manoeuvre & trajectory planning and deep learning. The course spans three 12-week terms.

In a blog post, Udacity’s founder and president Sebastian Thrun, wrote:

It is the first and only program of its kind where most people with an internet connection–from Detroit to Damascus and from Adelaide to Aleppo–can learn the skills they need to work in one of the most amazing fields of our time.

Applications for the program open today and will be accepted through the 27th of September. As part of students’ capstone project, they will build autonomous software that will be applied to an actual vehicle.

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Each term of the program costs $800, and the first term begins in October. There are 250 seats available for the first term, and as of now(15th Sept.), more than 3620 people have already applied for the program. Students are expected to have prior experience in Python or any other scripting language and at least some background in probability, statistics and calculus.

There are three instructors for the program, and Thrun himself is one of them. Before founding Udacity, he led the team at Stanford, where he was a professor, that built Stanley, the autonomous car that won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. He was also a leader at Google X.

The other two instructors are David Silver, who was an autonomous vehicle engineer at Ford before joining Udacity, and Ryan Keenan, who worked as a freelance data analyst before joining Udacity.

Each of the tech/automobile giants have divided the course curriculum and projects among themselves. Mercedes Benz will help with software, Otto is going to help design projects for students to do, while Nvidia is going to guide the overall trajectory of the curriculum. Udacity’s founder has also said that more partners will be added for the program.

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Interestingly, Udacity has its own self-driving car that students will be able to work on to test out their code. Also, it will be possible to do so remotely, which is crucial, given that the students will be studying online.

The Boston Consulting Group estimates that the market for autonomous cars will hit $42 billion in 2025. The World Health Organization reports there are 1.2 million traffic fatalities globally every year and driver less cars could be poised to save no less than 1 million lives per year.


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