The Brains Behind Udacity’s Self Driving Car Degree

The Brains Behind Udacity’s Self Driving Car Degree

By Alan Olsen

Most anyone with a degree in a technology field will tell you that it was well worth his or her time, money and effort to earn it. However, with advancements in technology moving so quickly certain degrees can be more valuable, while other degrees can become outdated rather quickly. Therefore, many people who work in the tech industry have to continually update their credentials in order to keep up with the constant changing that takes place.


Audacious Udacity

That’s where a company like Udacity comes into play. Udacity is a for-profit educational organization founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky. The organization offers a huge variety of open online courses. Udacity originally offered university-style courses, but the company has since changed its approach to focus more on vocational courses for professionals. If you’re looking to get ahead or simply to keep up in the tech industry, Udacity likely has the courses you need.


Tech Crunch Disrupt

I recently attended Tech Crunch Disrupt in San Francisco where I had the opportunity to speak with and listen to many of the leaders in the tech industry, including Sebastian Thrun of Udacity. TechCrunch Disrupt is the world’s leading authority when it comes to introducing revolutionary startups, debuting game-changing technologies and delving into what stands at the forefront for the tech industry’s key innovators. This conference includes the best and brightest entrepreneurs along with hackers, tech fans and even investors for three days of all things tech.


Self-Driving Nanodegree

During the program, Sebastian spoke about Udacity’s latest self-driving Nanodegree Program and how it will affect the self-driving car industry. “We may be the only institution I believe in the world that will give a credential in the space of self-driving cars.” The funny thing is Udacity doesn’t even have a campus, so it might seem far-fetched that it could hand out a degree for self-driving vehicles. However, according to Sebastian, Udacity wanted to be leading edge and teach the kind of stuff that universities can’t even teach yet because it’s so incredibly new.


Building an Open-Source Platform for Self-Driving Cars

“So we decided to work with Mercedes and Diddy and others to build a curriculum specifically for self-driving cars. The cool thing is we don’t just build the curriculum we actually build the car.” Sebastian said that Udacity’s best students will get a chance to run their software on the car and that they actually hope to open-source all the software they find in hopes that there can be an open-sourced platform for self-driving cars for anybody to use. As for the companies Udacity is working with, they combine their efforts to curate the curriculum.Sebastian said they ask these companies what it would it take for them to hire their graduates. The companies then come back with a list of things they are looking for. Udacity then builds it curriculum around these skills that implement projects around those spaces. “So we really derive our curriculum around the industry and that’s our secret sauce.”