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Udacity Intros Flying Car Nanodegree

Udacity Intros Flying Car Nanodegree

George Jetson, watch out! MOOC pioneer Udacity will be introducing a nanodegree on flying cars in early 2018. Students will gain an understanding of the "latest in flying car technology" as well as drones. Lessons will train participants in smart transportation, including the software skills needed for building autonomous flight systems. Company founder Sebastian Thrun will participate in the program, as well as one of Amazon's robotics experts and others from aeronautics and aerospace.

Projects included in the two-term program will start with the basics of "mission and path planning, state estimation, control and perception," according to a preview paper. From there, students will gain skills for flying quadrotors and fixed-wing drones autonomously in a flight simulator provided through the course, then advance to learning how these vehicles can be controlled as they complete "complex missions in urban environments."

Thrun's latest passion is Kitty Hawk, a company he founded to create "Flyer," an ultralight aircraft that can take off and land vertically and has the capacity to stay airborne for 20 minutes and a range of about 50 miles, according to a flash video available on Kitty Hawk's home page. Pilots won't require a license. The vehicle is intended to be flown over "freshwater in uncongested areas."

Other instructors are Angela Schoellig, a professor at the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies; Nicholas Roy, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and the founder of Project Wing, a project to develop delivery drones; and Raffaello D'Andrea, co-founder of Kiva Systems, which was acquired by Amazon and turned into that company's robotics division.

The cost of the new program hasn't been announced. Many individual courses in Udacity are free. But there's usually a cost for complete nanodegree programs, which are intended to bolster people's skillsets in specific topics. For example, the new "Intro to Self-Driving Cars" is $800.

A "Plus" version of the nanodegree promises a successful graduate of the program that he or she will get hired within six months of graduating or receive a refund of the tuition paid. The Plus program covers three fields currently: machine learning, web development and iOS development. The company hasn't specified whether the flying car program will be part of its Plus option.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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