Massive open online course company Udacity will soon offer a self-driving car nanodegree program, aimed at people who are looking to work in the burgeoning industry.
Udacity has enrolled more than 4 million students in the free courses that it offers, along with more than 11,000 students in its nanodegree programs. Nanodegrees are online certification programs that allow students to gain credit for the courses that they take.
Udacity's involvement in the self-driving car industry, however, is unique due to its founder and president being Sebastian Thrun, who previously ran Google's moonshot program Google X. Google X launched the company's artificial intelligence program, Google Glass and Google's self-driving car project.
Thrun has previously mentioned that Udacity will be looking to target the self-driving car industry, but did not reveal a date on when such a program will be offered. In a San Francisco event, Thrun announced that applications for a self-driving car nanodegree are now open.
The self-driving car nanodegree will be composed of three terms, with each term spanning 12 weeks and coming with a price of $800, for a total of 36 weeks and $2,400. The course will cover a long list of the most important topics in the industry, including computer vision, deep learning, localization, sensor fusion and controllers. Udacity will also have its own self-driving car that students can work on for testing their codes, with the capability to do so remotely.
Like Udacity's other nanodegrees, it has partners on board to help run the program. These partners are Mercedes-Benz, which was recently reported to be preparing to unveil a fleet of electric vehicles based on a completely new architecture; Nvidia, which just launched the artificial intelligence-powered palm-sized Drive PX 2 computer for self-driving cars; Otto, an autonomous truck startup that was acquired by Uber last month; and Didi Chuxing, which recently bought out Uber's operations in China.
For those who are interested in taking up the self-driving nanodegree program of Udacity, the application page is on Udacity's official website. However, not all applicants will be accepted. There are only 250 seats available, and at the time of writing, there are already 2,251 applicants.
Successful applicants will be informed of their selection by Oct. 3, with the first class scheduled to begin in the middle of October. Students who complete the nanodegree program will be launched into an industry that combines the automotive and technology sectors, and is expected to reach a value of $42 billion by 2025.