In-Depth on Udacity’s Self-Driving Car Curriculum

David Silver
Oct 4, 2016 · 6 min read

Update: Udacity has a new self-driving car curriculum! The post below is now out-of-date, but you can see the new syllabus here.

Last night we offered acceptances to thousands of students who are excited to join Udacity’s Self-Driving Car Nanodegree Program!

We are working hard to make this the world’s best training program for self-driving car engineers. The entire curriculum will consist of three terms over nine months. Here’s what in the program:

Term 1


  1. Meet the instructors — Sebastian Thrun, Ryan Keenan, and myself. Learn about the systems that comprise a self-driving car, and the structure of the program.

Deep Learning

  1. Machine Learning: Review fundamentals of machine learning, including regression and classification.

Computer Vision

  1. Cameras: Learn the physics of cameras, and how to calibrate, undistort, and transform image perspectives.

Term 2

Sensor Fusion

Our terms are broken out into modules, which are in turn comprised of a series of focused lessons. This Sensor Fusion module is built with our partners at Mercedes-Benz. The team at Mercedes-Benz is amazing. They are world-class automotive engineers applying autonomous vehicle techniques to some of the finest vehicles in the world. They are also Udacity hiring partners, which means the curriculum we’re developing together is expressly designed to nurture and advance the kind of talent they would like to hire!

Lidar Point Cloud

Below please find descriptions of each of the lessons that together comprise our Sensor Fusion module:

  1. Sensors
    The first lesson of the Sensor Fusion Module covers the physics of two of the most import sensors on an autonomous vehicle — radar and lidar.


This module is also built with our partners at Mercedes-Benz, who employ cutting-edge localization techniques in their own autonomous vehicles. Together we show students how to implement and use foundational algorithms that every localization engineer needs to know.

Particle Filter

Here are the lessons in our Localization module:

  1. Motion
    Study how motion and probability affect your belief about where you are in the world.


This module is built with our partners at Uber Advanced Technologies Group. Uber is one of the fastest-moving companies in the autonomous vehicle space. They are already testing their self-driving cars in multiple locations in the US, and they’re excited to introduce students to the core control algorithms that autonomous vehicles use. Uber ATG is also a Udacity hiring partner, so pay attention to their lessons if you want to work there!

A controller in the Udacity simulator.

Here are the lessons:

  1. Control
    Learn how control systems actuate a vehicle to move it on a path.

Term 3

Path Planning



Term 2 and Term 3 are under construction and we’ll share more details on those as we finalize the curriculum and projects.

[Update: Term 2 and Term 3 are live!]

All of this, including Term 1, is subject to change as we update the curriculum over time, because part of building a great course is taking feedback and making improvements!

If you’ve been accepted into the course, congratulations! We are excited to teach you.

If we suggested you brush up on a few topics and take a self-assessment before joining the course, please do! We are excited to teach you and want to make sure you have a great experience.

And if you haven’t yet applied, please do! We are taking applications for the 2017 cohorts and would love to have you in the class.

Self-Driving Cars

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