Udacity, mapmyindia

Udacity has been one of the favorite places to learn advanced technologies like self-driving cars and data analysis.The company’s self-driving car program included an actual vehicle in its HQ, that could be controlled using the code its students (who could be sitting in their homes, thousands of miles away) were pumping into the system. Well, in what can also be seen as a testament of Udacity’s confidence in the kind of knowledge it can impart, the platform is spinning out a self-driving taxi business.

Titled “Voyage”, the business will be led by Udacity Vice President Oliver Cameron. The most interesting thing about this venture is that the company won’t be building these taxis from th ground up. Instead, it will be mrely retro-fitting existing vehicles with self-driving technologies. This would of course constitute a revolution all on its own. I mean retro-fitting a taxi so that it can drive on its own has got to be pretty damn difficult. You will be teaching the wheel and the brakes to respond to an entity that does not exists. That is like teaching a pen to write when no one is holding it.

However, Udacity believes that it can achieve this and on scale. It will also be creating the cab -hailing platform although with a bunch of programming experts on-board, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. Another unique thing about the service will be its voice-interface, which will allow the passenger to control everything from his seat. So whether it is controlling music, or making a stop to pick up some burgers, Voyage’s systems will have you covered.

Again, it is not going to be very easy. Sure, Udacity has a lot of technical expertise under its belt however, it is not an expert on cars. Then you have to consider the fact that it will be competing against the likes of Uber. Finally, Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun has said that he will not be participating in the project because of complications that may arise due t his prior association with Google’s self-diving program.  And the company won’t be using any of the code uploaded by its students either.

Regardless, it is hard to discount the kind of technical expertise the platform has collected. And of course, it has also managed to build a fair degree f credibility for itself as well. It will be interesting to see how the company fares once it moves out of the noble (and lucrative) field of online education that it helped pioneer, and into the equally lucrative field of taxi-hailing, where it is very much of an outsider.

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