Udacity Fuels Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Dreams


Online education company Udacity on Tuesday introduced a new “nanodegree” program in self-driving auto engineering. President Sebastian Thrun made the announcement during an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt.

The goal is to build a crowdsourced, open source self-driving car, he said.

The program is the first of its kind, according to Thrun.

Students will learn the skills and techniques used by self-driving car teams at the most innovative companies in the world, Udacity has promised. The course spans three 12-week terms and covers deep learning, computer vision, sensor fusion, localization and controllers.

Each of the three terms will cost US$800. The first term begins in mid-October.

Registration is now open for the 250 seats available. More than 1,200 applicants have applied so far, according to Udacity spokesperson Jeanne Hornung.

Students are expected to have prior experience in Python or another scripting language and at least some background in probability, statistics and calculus. Scholarships are available for qualified applicants.

Thrun will teach the courses, along with David Silver, who was an autonomous vehicle engineer at Ford before joining Udacity, and Ryan Keenan, who previously worked as a freelance data analyst.

Thrun is a pioneer in the development of the self-driving car. While at Stanford, he led the team that built the autonomous car Stanley, which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. He also was a leader at Google X.

Udacity Fuels Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Dreams

DoT Refreshes Rule Book to Include Self-Driving Cars


U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Tuesday introduced new federal guidelines for the emerging highly automated vehicle industry — including self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles — creating a framework that will help drive one of the most important new sectors in the national economy.

Foxx, joined by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, outlined the framework that will form new federal regulations to govern how the self-driving industry goes forward.

Efforts are under way to create safety and operational standards at a time when nearly every major automaker, technology and ride-sharing firm is racing to compete in the nascent multibillion dollar industry. Its promise is to provide new levels of mobility for millions of Americans who currently cannot access personal transportation.

The federal plan calls for a 15-point safety assessment that would create the framework for the design, manufacture, testing and deployment of automated vehicles. It would ensure that cars would be crashworthy, have a mechanism to react to vehicle failure, be protected against hacking, and be able to share data, among other things.

The guidelines would influence how the federal government would split up jurisdictional issues with the states over which issues would be handled at what level — for example, issues of licensing, insurance, enforcement, etc.

Federal safety regulations would apply to vehicles fully automated with software, for example, while states would be in charge of vehicles with a driver in control, Foxx said.

DoT Refreshes Rule Book to Include Self-Driving Cars