Udacity, Mercedes-Benz, others launch self-driving car nanodegree program

Bruce Brown
Udacity, Mercedes-Benz, others launch self-driving car nanodegree program
Udacity just unveiled a nanodegree program for self-driving cars. Partners program include Mercedes-Benz, Nvidia, Didi, and Uber's Otto self-driving truck company. Not only will the partner companies help with the courses, they may also hire graduates.

If you’re yearning to work in the self-driving car industry, Udacity‘s new coursework could help you do just that. Starting Tuesday, Udacity is offering a self-driving car nanodegree program, according to VentureBeat.

Udacity, a massive open online course (MOOC) company, has enrolled more than four million students in its free courses and more than 11,000 participants in nanodegree programs. A nanodegree is an online certification program where people enroll for credit. Though it is one of many such companies around the world, Udacity is unique because of its founder.

Related: Google and Udacity are bringing a free deep learning course to you

Sebastian Thrun, Udacity’s founder and CEO, previously ran Google X, the company’s moonshot program. In addition to kicking off Google Glass and artificial intelligence programs, Google X was also the origin of Google’s self-driving car project under Thrun.

The program runs for nine months, with three 12-week terms. Each term costs $800, so the whole course totals $2,400. Topics include deep learning, computer vision, sensor fusion, localization, and controllers. A Udacity self-driving car will be available so students can test code remotely.

Partners on board with Udacity’s self-driving nanodegree program include prominent players in the self-driving car arena. Mercedes-Benz, Nvidia, Uber’s recent self-driving truck technology acquisition Otto, and Didi Chuxing (which recently merged with Uber’s ride-hailing business in China) will participate in running the program.

According to VentureBeat, the driverless car market is estimated to be $42 billion by 2025.

“Technology companies, automotive manufacturers, media giants, and startups around the world are rapidly pushing new advances in this space, whether it be hardware or software,” Thrun wrote in Udacity’s blog. “And, they all need talent. If autonomous cars succeed, they will change the way we think about transportation, retail, insurance, and the way we, as consumers, go about our daily lives.”

Not all students who apply will be accepted into Udacity’s self-driving nanodegree program. You can apply for one of the 250 available seats at this link. Those accepted should be contacted by October 3, according to VentureBeat. Classes begin in mid-October.