Udacity announces 'flying car' nanodegree, new partnership with Lyft

The online education company is also expanding its self-driving car programming, with an Intro to Self-Driving Cars program without any application restrictions.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer
(Image: Udacity)

The online education company Udacity on Tuesday unveiled a "flying car" nanodegree program, offering students "the skills to create autonomous flight vehicles that will be crucial to the transportation systems of the future."

The two-term program will open in early 2018, with a curriculum designed by aerospace and autonomous systems experts, including Nicholas Roy, the MIT Aeronautics professor and founder of Alphabet's Project Wing; Raffaelo D'Andrea, ETH Zurich professor and co-founder of Kiva Systems; Angela Schoellig, University of Toronto Institute Aerospace professor; and Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun.

"Our goal is to teach a new generation of engineers the skills necessary to build this smart transportation future," Roy wrote in a blog post. "We want to teach students to push beyond the current generation of quadrotors and remote-controlled drones."

The curriculum will first focus on the basics of autonomous flight, Roy wrote, including motion planning, state estimation, control, and perception. Later in the program, students will study how autonomous flight fits into the air transportation system. They'll also work on projects that include flight simulation and the option to deploy code on a small drone.

"Our students will develop the software skills and conceptual understanding necessary to build a flight system for an autonomous flight vehicle that can reliably complete complex missions in urban environments," Roy wrote.

Meanwhile, Udacity also announced Tuesday that it's expanding its self-driving car programming. It's offering a new "Intro to Self-Driving Cars" Nanodegree, open to anyone with an Internet connection. Students should have some knowledge of algebra and programming experience (e.g. C++, Python) before enrolling in the four-month program. Graduates of the program can enroll in Udacity's application-based Self-Driving Car or Robotics Nanodegree programs.

In conjunction with the new programming, Udacity announced it's partnering with Lyft. The ride-hailing company is offering 400 full scholarships for women and minorities entering the new program.

After launching its Since launching the Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree a year ago, more than 10,000 students have enrolled from 50 countries. More than 43,000 have applied. As many as 30 students have already landed jobs in the field, though they don't graduate from the program until next month.


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