Silicon Valley online school Udacity launches first nanodegree in flying car engineering led by Self-driving car pioneer Sebastian Thrun.
Leading automobile companies such as Airbus and Amazon to Uber are focused on development of autonomous aerial vehicles. Sebastian Thrun is focused on the cutting edge of this emerging automobile technology. Online school’s self-driving car program has attracted 50,000 applicants since 2016. The new flying car curriculum is expected to opens in February 2018 and begins taking applications to draw at least 10,000 admissions.
The 50-year-old PhD computer scientist and former Stanford University professor, co-founded Udacity is offering two 12-week terms at US$ 1,200 each, including a course in Aerial Robotics and one in Intelligent Air Systems, that provide an online certification in a fraction of the time of a conventional degree course. Thrun explained in an interview that the motivation in creating the flying-car program was similar to what drove the school’s widely publicized self-driving car course. “It’s almost impossible to hire qualified people to design and engineer future vehicles in terrestrial and aerial that employ advanced technology, including robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Thrun.
“There is a huge shortage of engineers. There are plenty of smart people the missing link is education,” said Thrun, who headed Google’s self-driving car project, renamed as Waymo. Thrun remains an advisor to Google parent Alphabet Inc and retains close ties to Alphabet CEO and co-founder Larry Page
According to Autonomous Cars Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, autonomous cars, also called driverless cars, self-driving cars, robot car or autonomous vehicles (AVs), are vehicles that are able to navigate to a predetermined destination without the help of human guidance. Kitty Hawk’s first prototype, dubbed the Flyer, is a drone that is capable of vertical takeoff and landing without wheels. “Flying car’ might be a bit of a misnomer – more of an attention grabber,” admits Thrun. “It feels like science fiction now but with Google and Amazon moving in, there is going to be enormous activity around this in the next year or two,” he added. He has been working with Page and others to develop autonomous aerial vehicles.