Udacity Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree Review
Ever dreamed about creating a self-driving car? Sounds a bit difficult, right? Well, what if we told you you could learn the skills you need to write code that powers self-driving cars in just a few months? Well, guess what? You can with the Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree from Udacity! You could gain all of the skills you need to break into the business and start designing today.
We will give you the scoop on Udacity plus, break down the course content. We also have a breakdown of the price plus, a look at the job market. At the end, you’ll have all you need to decide whether or not this is the course for you.
Udacity is an online academy that is dedicated to equipping learners with knowledge about everything IT. From free lectures to certification courses, they have it all, and at competitive prices too! Included in their long list of courses are Udacity Nanodegrees, an all-in-one course wrapped up with all kinds of goodies.
A nanodegree from Udacity is a certification program that goes in-depth on a particular topic. Each nanodegree comes with:
- A well-rounded curriculum
- Real-industry projects
- Self-paced learning abilities
- Career prep services
- A-list instructors
Sebastian is President of Udacity and has worked with Google on their self-driving car project. He is one of the main instructors for this course and takes learners on an informative journey helping them to know what to expect for the rest of the course and throughout their time in the business.
Andy studies physics at MIT but, decided to start teaching himself programming. Since his time as a student with Udacity, he has helped immensely, developing courses that enhance the educational experience while teaching all that learners need to know to push through the course.
Cezanne studied electrical engineering. While she practiced with her profession, she turned her passions to educating others and has worked to create a STEM education. Udacity is lucky to have her as an instructor, as she goes above and beyond to create an educational experience that is unlike any other.
After Andrew received his degree in engineering from Yale, he immediately took to creating his own online business. Seeing an opportunity with jewelry, he planned, developed, and launched his very own jewelry store from the ground up. He has created courses for Udacity and has also taught a few as lead instructor.
Anthony served in the military and also has a degree in computer engineering. His career started as a software engineer with Lockheed Martin and expanded on into Udacity. Now, he is a product lead for Udacity and also teaches a course or two. You’re lucky to have him as an instructor, taking advantage of his key tips and advice from his work experience and educational background.
Elecia is an engineer among many other things. She has written books about her expertise and is also the host of a podcast highlighting engineering devices and techniques. She is an enthusiastic instructor that has tons of knowledge to share, teaching learners what it’s like to be out in the field.
Throughout this course, you’ll work with C++ and Python. These complex programs will help you create complex code to power self-driving cars and other highly technical gadgets. A good handle on complex mathematics and experience with matrices and machine learning might be a good idea.
While you don’t have to be an expert with any of the techniques or tools used during the course, you will need a few things including experience with programming. On top of work with programming concepts, you’ll need:
- A good handle on algebra
- Knowledge of statistical models and probabilities
- A good grasp on Python and all programing foundations
- Work with data analysis at an intermediate level
Self-driving cars are powered by advanced code. To learn how they work from the core, you’ll start with an introduction to Bayesian thinking. Be sure to pay close attention to this section, as you’ll be using it for your first two projects at the end of this section.
Project! Joy Ride
The first project is a lot of fun and takes you on a joy ride, literally! You’ll work with writing code that controls a vehicle, seeing how advanced code powers movements and commands for moving cars.
Project! 2D with Python
This one is not as fun as the first one in this section but, it is something that you will use throughout your career. Using Python, you’ll write the ‘sense’ and ‘move’ commands that will power your self-driving car. Use your imagination and the Udacity guide to help you along.
Working with Matrices
Matrices are part of the bigger picture, and you’ll learn that in this part of the course. Work with object-oriented programming and linear algebra to get things set up to start moving motor vehicles.
Project! Make a Matrix Class
Using what you learned in the lesson, you’ll fill out methods in a Matrix to complete a class. Keep this with you as it is something that you will be doing often from the time you land your first job.
Basics of C++
C++ is an advanced language that helps to power movements in advanced software. You’ll first work with code that is written in Python and then, translate it over to C++. This is an easy section but, crucial to powering intelligent machines.
Project! Make a Translation
Using the Histogram Filter from earlier in the course, you’ll take the code and turn it into C++. Using your knowledge of the advanced language, you’ll want to have a strong grasp of the concept.
Performance Programming with C++
Anyone can write a line of code but, only experts can write good, clean, and well-functioning code. That is the primary focus in this section, learning the best practices to creating readable and deployable code.
Project! Performant C++
One thing you should do when you know C++ is to be able to spot code that is functioning and make it better to optimize performance. Getting rid of unnecessary code helps to make things run smoother and create advanced opportunities.
Navigating Complex Data Structures
Solving a math problem is not the only thing you’ll need to do in this course. You’ll also need to use critical thinking skills to create data structures and algorithms. Planning out algorithms that complete the commands you want is a huge part of the job.
Project! Plan an Optimal Path
Now you’re finally ready to get things moving! Focus on getting your car from point A to point B using the methods you learned above. Using advanced algorithms, you’ll create a way to find the fastest route on a map.
Visualizing Calculus Controls
Using calculus, you’ll dive into Python’s visualization libraries for more advanced controls. This is another step in the process and means will leave you with more advanced skills that you can use to get things moving even better and more efficient.
Project! Trajectory Visualizer
A good look at the code that you are writing is crucial. This is important to testing and debugging and controlling your self-driving car creations, doing it with more efficiency than ever.
Machine Learning and Computer Vision
When a self-driving car is on the road, they’ll have to identify certain things to make sure that it is safe. If anything is in the way, your car will need to stop or possibly slow down to avoid crashing or bumping into anything.
Project! Image Classifier
For the last part of this course, you’ll have to create an algorithm that can classify and react to images. This is a really important part of creating a self-driving car, and an algorithm that you can save and take along with you to use in real-industry projects.
Udacity estimates that dedicating about 10 hours per week, this course will take about 4 months to complete. You do have the option to take all the time you need, as long as you keep up with the project deadlines. So, what should you take from this? Well, you want to move at a pace that suits you but, you also want to be cautious about the time you take for the total cost of the course. Surely, we caught your attention there, and we’ll explain in more detail below.
The cost of the course depends on a few factors. One is the time that you take and two is whether or not you choose to pay upfront.
When you pay upfront, Udacity adds an extra little discount of 15%. They base this cost off of their estimated time to complete the course, which is 4 months. This brings the total course cost to $1236.
Pay as you go
When you take this option, you can have access as long as you like, so long as you pay for it. Each month of access runs about $359, which could add up if you take too long. This is a good option if you think you can finish up the entire course in less than 4 months. If you think you can, you wind up saving money plus, you’re able to hop into the job market a lot faster.
The course has an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Here is what a few of the previous learners had to say.
“To prepare for this program, I first did the Artificial Intelligence for Robotics course (that had already greatly surprised me). Some modules between that course and this one are coincident, but I can see that the user paid-experience digs into the core concepts in much more detail! I didn’t have a huge expectation for these 2 courses but I must say that Udacity has been the most fulfilling learning experience I have ever had, allowing me to actually learn something new and approaching education from a different point of view that clearly lets the student have fun while still being audacious and solving complex problems from nowadays.” – Jose B
“I like this program, especially the well-designed projects which deepen my understanding of those little obscure points. I feel fulfilled when I successfully pass the last project – traffic light classifier, and in the process of visualizing data, abstract features, and continuous improvement, I think I partly understand why we need CNN for this kind of computer vision work. Anyway, I gained a lot in this nano degree and give my sincere appreciation to this team in Udacity.” – Xu D.
“The program is structured very well (except one or two times, wherein a quiz something that was introduced before is given as new, e.g. Bayes rule). I thought it would be harder having only attended one or two lectures of statistical learning/machine learning during my time at university like 6 years back. But I am very excited about the C++ part as well as the computer vision part, given I have no real prior knowledge in those fields.”
Self-driving cars might sound like something out of a science fiction book but, they are really real. You could work with the very technology that powers these self-driving cars, creating algorithms that keep them on the road and keep drivers safe. Big names in the car industry like Tesla and Mercedes have added self-driving capabilities to their vehicles for some time now. That means that you could be a competitive candidate to land a job at one of these top-tier companies for a long time to come.
An analysis from Paysa posted by Udacity shows that the average self-driving car engineer rakes in about $240,000 per year. This is not the cap by any means, with some of the best in the business bringing home about $350,000. As far as the demand, well, there is a 20% increase within the last few years of job positing for those with the skills to build self-driving cars. You’ll surely find a gig and find it faster than you might think.
What Are you Waiting For?
When you finish up the Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree from Udacity, you have a whole lot of options ahead of you. Getting a certification from one of the top online IT education centers in the world is an amazing accomplishment, one that is sure to land you a gig faster than you might think. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up today!