The newest version of the Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Program has launched!

This version has brand new courses and projects on deep learning, sensor fusion, localization, and planning, with brand new instructors. It’s a fantastic 2021 update to the original program, which dated to 2016.

I helped build the first half of this new version back when I was still at Udacity last year, and then my long-time Udacity colleague, Michael Virgo, led the effort to completion.

A particularly awesome aspect of this new version of the Nanodegree program is that we created in conjunction with Udacity’s long-time partner…

Last week, TechCrunch reported that Aurora intends to become a publicly-traded company, via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), specifically Reinvent Technology Partners Y. To my mind, the most interesting parts of this announcement related to the massive amounts of capital that AV companies need and are frequently able to raise.

Aurora’s valuation will be $13 billion, despite an absence of revenue. After closing the SPAC, Aurora will have about $2.5 billion of cash on-hand.

To figure out how far that $2.5 billion will take them, we can do some back of the envelope math. According to…

Former Waze CEO Noam Bardin recently joined the NFX podcast for an hour to discuss the history of the company, from a tiny, scrappy startup in Israel, to a global service used by millions.

Although of course I’d tried Waze (although my preferred navigation is Google Maps), I’d not heard of Bardin until he made pretty big waves early this with, “Why did I leave Google or, why did I stay so long?”

Interestingly, the NFX episode didn’t really touch on the Google acquisition. …

Cruise is hiring a Director, Program Management Office. You should apply, or send me your CV and I will refer you!

Great program managers are amazingly effective at reducing stress, increasing performance, and especially at hitting timelines.

For years, I did not believe this, mainly because I hadn’t seen many good program managers in action. Mostly, I had seen engineers, or product managers, or executives corralled into program managements roles, where they performed adequately but not impressively.

I myself have been corralled into that role a few times. I am not a great program manager.

But then I joined Udacity…

Waymo announced a new simulation framework recently, both on its own blog and in a feature story with The Verge. The framework is called SimulationCity.

SimulationCity seems awfully reminiscent of CarCraft, the simulation engine that Waymo made famous in 2017. It’s been four years, which is certainly time for a refresh.

The Verge article is a little cagey about the distinction between SimulationCity and CarCraft:

“The company decided it needed a second simulation program after discovering “gaps” in its virtual testing capabilities, said Ben Frankel, senior product manager at the company. Those gaps included using simulation to validate new vehicle…

Protocol asked ten autonomous vehicle executives, “What do people most often get wrong in discussions about autonomous vehicles?” Cruise’s SVP of Engineering, Mo Elshenaway, answered:

“Self-driving is an all-encompassing AI and engineering challenge. It’s easy to see an AV on the streets and think only about the AI models that power them or the compute and sensor suites built as part of it, but there is a virtual software assembly line built alongside the car itself that enables us to meet the unique scale and safety imperative at play here.

To enable AVs to drive superiorly in any given scenario…

“The crux of the challenge involves making decisions under uncertainty; that is, choosing actions based on often imperfect observations and incomplete knowledge of the world. Autonomous robots have to observe the current state of the world (imperfect observations), understand how this is likely to evolve (incomplete knowledge), and make decisions about the best course of action to pursue in every situation. This cognitive capability is also essential to interpersonal interactions because human communications presuppose an ability to understand the motivations of the participants and subjects of the discussion. As the complexity of human-machine interactions increases and automated systems become more…

My latest article is about Adaptive City Mobility, a German startup aiming to develop and manufacture an electric fleet vehicle from the ground up. They rely on what founder Paul Leibold calls, “the network economy.”

“They contracted prototyping to Roding, production planning to HÖRMANN Automotive, and series manufacturing to an international Tier 1 automotive supplier. Downstream functions are also handled by partners. A partner manages vehicle leasing, and the digital platform is being developed by Porsche subsidiary MHP.”

Read the whole thing!

Originally published at on July 6, 2021.

Herd of cattle at a lakeside by Conrad Bühlmayer

Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s Senior Director of AI, presented Tesla’s recent work at CVPR 2021. CVPR is one of the foremost conferences for academic research into computer vision. Karpathy always does a great job explaining cutting-edge work in an intelligible format (he is an AI researcher with over 350,000 Twitter followers!).

Karpathy’s presentation is about 40 minutes, but it comes at the end of an 8.5 hour session recording. Hence the timestamps start at 7:51:26.

[7:52:46] As a way of emphasizing the importance of automated driving, Karpathy describes human drivers as “meat computers.” I saw some people take offense to this…

David Silver

I love self-driving cars and I work on them at Cruise!

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