The pioneer of Google's autonomous car is training an army of would-be robotic car specialists

Udacity, the education organisation cofounded by former Googler Sebastian Thrun, is offering a course in robotic car programming taught by Thrun himself.

Nearly 80,000 students have signed up. 

The startling stat was flagged on Twitter on Monday night by Kyle Russell at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, with Marc Andreessen later retweeting him. 

The Udacity course offers participants the opportunity to “learn how to program all the major systems of a robotic car from the leader of Google and Stanford’s autonomous driving teams,” according to the website. 

Thrun launched Google’s secretive hardware lab Google X, and is regarded as a pioneer in robotic cars. He cofounded Udacity in 2011. 

The company started out with free lecture-style online academic courses, but pivoted in 2014 to a new model due to dismal completion rates.

Udacity now partners with tech companies to build classes that fit into credentialed, project-focused programs. In the case of the course on programming for a robotic car, the course is offered as part of the Georgia Tech Masters in Computer Science.

“So you all know self-driving cars are the coolest things ever built,” Thrun said in a video promoting the course.

“This course, you can now learn all the basics for what it takes to program a self-driving car, in fact you program it yourself.”

Here is the promotional video:


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