Some people may be aware the the founder of Google’s enigmatic Google X labs and a pioneer in the area of the self-driving car, Sebastian Thrun, is also one of the founding members of education website Udacity, giving the site its start back in 2011. The site has always offered a fairly wide range of courses, from the tech sector to English and arithmetic, but a new class has cropped up that’s already garnered roughly 80,000 students. Kyle Russell of the Andreessen Horowitz firm took to Twitter to point out the incredible number of students signed up. Marc Andreessen confirmed his findings and later retweeted him. This class, taught by Sebastian Thrun, centers around learning to program your very own self-driving car system.
The class is touted as having the full spectrum of tools used by Google, as well as a few additional tricks cooked up by Stanford. Students are told they will “learn how to program all the major systems of a robotic car from the leader of Google and Stanford’s autonomous driving teams…” The program is part of a Masters in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, although students not after that particular degree can also sign up, as with any other class on Udacity. Udacity’s courses, being designed to fit into accredited programs, are thought of as well above the level of most education websites on the internet that aren’t actual universities.
Thrun actually promotes the class himself, saying that “…self-driving cars are the coolest things ever built…” Certainly, students who learn to program these beasts will have a hand in their future development on an industry-wide scale, hopefully helping to make them safer and more efficient. At the moment, with them being a bit too perfect and having a hard time predicting human behavior and dealing with certain factors, lawyers are standing at the ready to make a pretty penny figuring out who would be responsible for self-driving car crashes and how to go after them. Students in this class may have a chance of mitigating the possibility of such crashes, helping to eliminate the problem altogether one line of code at a time.