Popular online learning platform Udacity has a new featured course that intends to teach the fundamentals required to get started on a career path designing software for flying cars. Of course, gaining an education in aviation-specific programming and A.I.-centric software design is not going to be an undertaking for the faint of heart. It also isn't going to cheap or quick. However, the goal here is to produce a group of graduates that are prepared to take on the cutting edge of the autonomous and semi-autonomous flight industry and generating new innovation in transportation, whether that's by coming up with new solutions for moving people or goods.
The course is split into two terms, with two separate focuses, including Aerial Robotics and Intelligent Air Systems. The cost for either is probably comparatively low compared to taking full university courses but reflects that the course probably shouldn't be taken lightly. Both terms, meanwhile, run for approximately three months. Applicants should be aware they'll need to commit a minimum of around 15 hours per week over a total of 6 months to the program. Term one, Aerial Robotics, is available at a discounted $899 free for those who enroll before February 7th. The first term will focus on core concepts surrounding the development and design of flying robots. That includes an introduction to the course's custom simulator program and the use of a simulated quadcopter to plan routes, gain an understanding of and design control mechanisms, and learn to estimate relative positions in 3D space based on on-board sensors and GPS. Moving to the second term from that starting point will cost an additional $1200. The Intelligent Air Systems portion will focus on adapting the studies from term one into practice with fixed-wing aircraft and hybrid or VTOL designs in a custom simulator. Students will learn system identification and calibration to model an emergency assistance vehicle through its deliveries. From there, they'll learn how to optimize flight routes for a fleet of autonomous flying vehicles, as well as how to coordinate that fleet when it consists of different vehicles. That will include avoiding collisions and working with a central control system such as air traffic control.
To get started, enrollees need to apply by February 7th to get in on the first run of the program. Otherwise, they'll need to wait until the next time the course becomes available, which likely won't be before summer. They'll also need a subset of relevant skills already in place. The program lists prerequisites including substantial programming experience in any language and Intermediate programming experience – or a willingness to learn – in both Python and C++. Beyond that, it is suggested that an understanding of mathematics in basic linear algebra, calculus, and probability and statistics are already in place, as well as an understanding of basic physics. For those who have limited knowledge in those areas, it is recommended that Udacity's "Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree Program" is undertaken first. For those who are accepted into the program, a response will arrive by February 13th and the course will start in late February. Payments are, of course, due before the program starts.