Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Review

Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Review
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Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Program 

The future is here, and self-driving cars are all the buzz. With all the top names and automobile production incorporating self-driving car engineers onto their team, this is a career path with growing potential, requiring engineers to constantly stay sharp with their skills and up to date with the technology used today. This is no easy task,as it takes a deep understanding of several programming languages including C++,Python, HTML,and CSS and experience working with advanced programming and engineering concepts. In order to apply these languages to create complex algorithms that allow cars to drive by themselves,engineers must have vast amounts of experience like computer vision and digital engineering along with several other concepts like sensors and video integrated driving.

 

The self-driving car engineering degree program was created in collaboration with Mercedes, BMW, McLaren, and Uber making it a course wherelearners can apply the knowledge learnedthroughout the course into building the carsof the very near future. Learnersthat decide to take this course will get a first-hand lookat problem-solving when it comes to engineering with more complex algorithms, finishing the course with several hours of experience making them able to enter the job market straight after graduation with a competitive edge.  Here we will take a brief look at the courts going over the curriculum and added extras that come with every nanodegree program giving you all the info you need to decide if this program is right for you.

 

What’s so great about Udacity?

The idea of Udacity started off simple, as 2 Stanford professors were looking for a way to provide the opportunity of education to learners all around the world. They first started with 2 courses, both of which were free of charge. Now the academy has expanded and now offers nearly 40 different nanodegree programs getting learners geared up for the growing IT market.

 

Udacity’s nanodegrees get their fame from the in-depth and comprehensive curriculum that each course provides.  This course in particular has a very good reputation as it was created with the help of several industry giant Udacitypartners like Mercedes, McLaren, and BMW.Working in collaboration with these companies,learners will get a chance to work with the most up-to-date technology in the market while working on Udacity’s very own self driving car.The course includes 9 total real-world projects, all of which covers all the nooks and crannies of self-driving technologies.

 

Another aspect of the academy’s rise to fame is their team of knowledgeable instructors. They will lead learners through courses, providing personal experience mixed in with concepts from their years of experience both working in the field and instructing future learners. The Self-driving car team is composed of:

 

Sebastian Thrun -Previous lead in self-driving car projects for Google X and Udacity’s president

David Silver – Leader of school of Autonomous Systems

Ryan Keenan – Astrophysicists and Lead instructor in Robotics

The Mercedes-Benz team – developers of Udacity’s Sensor Fusiondriving technology.

Uber team – Developers of self-driving technology and innovators of mapping technology integrated into many vehicles from top companies today

 

Is this the Right Course for Me?

This course is perfect for a wide range of engineers with all different types of specified knowledge skills. Not just for one single type of engineer,knowledge learned in this course actually spreads out to several different branches, allowing learners to choose their specialty. Because of the good and strong foundations learners receive in deep learning and other complex programming concepts, they are able to take that knowledge and incorporate it into several other fields within the IT world. This course is considered advanced as many of the concepts require previous knowledge in programming including advanced Python training and some extensive C++ training as well. Those who have a programming and technical background wanting to advance their knowledge in order to work with systems like sensors and mapping will benefit from this program or those just wanting to sharpen their knowledge of deep learning concepts like machine learning will also benefit from this more in-depth refresher.

 

Prerequisites and Curriculum

Udacity recommends learners dedicate 10 to 15 hours per week which will take an estimated total of 6 months in order to complete the entire course. Curriculum is broken down into 8 different sections,each with several lessons in between. Before beginning, the prerequisites and recommended knowledge from Udacity state future learners should have some knowledge of Python and some C++ training. They should also be comfortable with linear algebra and calculus, with an ability to apply concepts combining critical thinking and math. If these sound like concepts that you have down, then the complex curriculum should be a breeze.

 

The 8 sections broken down in the course are listed below, with a short description of tasks and technologies learners will work with.

 

Introduction

Here, the learner is introduced to the Innovative world of self-driving cars.They will get a glimpse of all the technology that is included when brainstorming the next technology that self-driving cars will feature and also get acquainted with the concepts and environments that will be used throughout the entire course.

 

Computer Vision

Use the power of technology in combination with cameras to create a software equipped to show difficult to find lanes. This will show how the technology is used to track the vehicle’s route as well as help with vehicle stay on the right path no matter where they are driving. This part of the course ends with an advanced look at lane finding where leaners can apply the knowledge that they learned during the entire section.

 

Deep Learning with NVIDIA.

The NVIDIA team will take over introducing show methods using development in combination with self-driving technology. The expert team will go over neural networks, sharing how they are built from the very core all the way through layers and layers of algorithms that allow tons of super advanced technologies to function.  Perhaps one of the most fun parts of the course, there is a simulation where learners will develop technology in spite of complications including traffic signs. Learners will have to dig deep into their knowledge bank in order to create and train a vehicle to drive using neural networks and technology.

 

Work with Sensors

Using an advanced mathematical technology known as Kalman filters, the Mercedes-Benz team will lead learners through the advanced super complex technology of sensors. These algorithms are super advanced and very complex as they are important to allocate and predict the proximity of nearby objects creating safe sensors or safer and more secure driving methods.

 

Mapping

In this part of the course, the knowledgeable team of Mercedes-Benz engineers will lead learners on a journey introducing the complex and complex concept of localization.  Far more advanced than GPS systems, this can show the vehicles location to the centimeter using the Markov program to write code that correctly show location with pinpoint accuracy.

 

Planning and predicting

This technology is used to show the trajectory of the vehicle in proximity to others making sure that the path is safe and secure using sensor technology.Sensors surrounding the car can get a 360 degree view of all the traffic and predict movements based on input algorithms.

 

Control

This will allow learners to take a look at all of the parts of a normal car, tweaking them in order to better function with self-driving technology.This includes acceleration and braking and other normal vehicle functions.

 

Meet Carla

This is the nanodegree’s Capstone project prompting learners to apply all of the knowledge learned throughout the entire course in order to work on Carla, Udacity’s self-driving car operated through the academy’s Robot Operating System. This is a teamwork project where leaners will work with other students in order to create a new and innovative self-driving car using the same techniques as engineers in the industry.

 

Udacity Will get you Hired

After graduation graduates can immediately start looking for a job. But, they don’t have to do this alone thanks to the job assistance programs put in place by Udacity.  Thanks to the knowledgeable staff and career assistance program, the academy show that 84% graduates found work within 6 months after their graduation date. The specific means of assistance graduates will want to take advantage of are:

 

Resume Review

Staff will skim over resumes providing learners with feedback to make their resumes pop. Specialists know what recruiters and companies are looking for and will provide feedback and also proofread the current resume making sure that they are ready and equipped with everythingneeded to be put straight to the top of the pile.

 

Interview Prep

Graduates will get a one-on-one mock interview session where staff will ask all of the most frequent questions asked during the interview process allowing learners to get prepared. The interview process is one of the most intimidating parts of job integration,but graduates will be able to rest at ease, equipped with everything they need to be prepared to take on their first interview.

 

LinkedIn Review

Experts will take a look at the graduates LinkedIn profile totweak or help construct a new LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is becoming a popular method for recruiters and companies to look for new talent for the fact that it not only shows and gives a detailed explanation of the future employees’ expertise but also shows a bit of their personality letting a bit of their personality shine through.

 

Apart from these extras that learners and graduates get to enjoy, they can also enroll in Udacity’s Talent Program, a database full of recruiters searching for new talent coming from the academy. Here, all learners will need to do is upload their resume and sit back while recruiters get into contact with them based off of their skill set. Udacity team members will also send an email or alert anytime that a job is made available matching the skill set of graduates. Recruits from Udacity partners and many other top-notch companies are all included in the database, waiting to sweep up new graduates with a nanodegree from Udacity.

 

A Certificate from Udacity

Successful graduation from the course comes with a Udacity certificate with the C++Developer Nanodegree Program name along with the Udacity seal. As the academy continues to gain more partners in the industrythe Udacity certificate weighs more gaining more momentum and increasing the positive reputation the academy has.  The certificate will show the graduates name along with the course name and a signature from president and instructor Sebastian Thrun. This is presented to learners after successful graduation in a downloadable PDF version where learners can send to future employers or print to place it in hand during an interview.

 

How Much does it Cost?

Udacity pricing is usually per month but they offer a deal when paid in full. For the recommended time of 6 months, students can access and finish their degree program with everything included for $1959 for a discounted rate.The academy also offers monthly payments perfect for those that may find paying that large of a lump sum up front difficult to do. If paid monthly, each month is $399 for the duration of 6 months. If for any reason learners need more time in order to complete the course, an additional $399 will be added to each month until successful completion, giving learners flexible scheduling options and the time to finish the course whenever they want.  However, learners should be cautious as some of these numbers could possibly result in doubling the course if it takes longer than 9 months total. Still for all of the in-depth curriculum with the perks that come along with the course, a price of under $2,000 is pretty hard to beat.

What are Learners Saying?

The course has been reviewed by nearly 1000 learners and graduates, all of which seem to have an overall view of the course. Out of 5 stars, the course is rated at 4.8. Majority of those that left positive feedback tend to comment on the instruction and the abilities to work alongside giants in the industry. There is also a positive sentiment for the technologies and methods used. Here are what a few of the higher scoring reviews had to say:

“So far this program has been very good. I have learned many skills, which I can use in my work now and in the future. The skills are very varied in the field of vision, sensor and deep learning which I think is great.” – Soren R.

 

“It has been the best journey for me so far. The course has put me right into the middle of cutting-edge research happening around the world. I am glad that I have had to go through this hardship because I am now certain of the work I would like to do in the future. “– Siddharth S.

 

Just like with anything in this world, there are 2 sides to every story. Among the negative reviews, some learners commented on instruction and also the difficulty of the course, claiming that some sections were too difficult for the prerequisites stated. One low scoring review read:

 

“Not much interaction with the hiring partners and there is no clarity over the recruitment process by the hiring partners. I had mailed Udacity repeatedly about this issue but no response from their end. Learning wise the course is good but same learning can be accomplished by the free courses regarding machine learning, etc.” – Aditya B.

 

Final Thoughts

 There are so many benefits to a career as a Self-Driving Car Engineer. Any programmer in any field can take advantage of the opportunity to enhance their skills while gaining knowledge in a new and very useful field. The field in only projected to grow, as transportation technology continues to advance. Learners that take advantage of the opportunity to take a leap into a new career will be happy that they did so with Udacity. We think that this a worthwhile deal, especially with all the added extras that come along with the perks.

 

Not only the fact that the curriculum is full of hands-on examples that engineers are working on today, but because the companies with which the academy partners. Several of the best names in innovation have teamed up with the academy to create the course and give learners real projects to work on. Graduates will be able to enter the job market confidently and might even get to take advantage of the Udacity Talent program, where the academy will match learners to the companies that have a need for their skills.

 

Pricing is on the higher side but, with all that is included, it is definitely worthwhile. Anyone with more advanced experience with programming languages and concepts that is interested in a career in the innovative field of transportation technologies should take this course. There is no better time than now to get involved. Learning never stops and neither do the possibilities as a Self-Driving Car Engineer.

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