Udacity Launches an Online Course for Flying Car Engineers

In the past year, flying cars have gone from LOL, to maybe a real thing, to a booming industry raking in VC cash and churning out sweet renderings of an aerial future.

The chance to trigger the next great transportation revolution has drawn in big companies, like Airbus and Uber, big names, like Google’s Larry Page, and naturally, a horde of startups. They all believe the proliferation of vertical takeoff and landing (or VTOL) aircraft, which combine the best features of helicopters and planes, can make traveling throughout and between cities not just faster, but maybe cheaper and greener.

AI expert Sebastian Thrun thinks the idea will only climb higher, especially once these aircraft can fly themselves, and he wants to help make it happen.

“I see a future where everybody flies at least once a day,” he says. Getting there, however, will require a ton of work: building the aircraft, making them reliable, teaching them to land safely and avoid each other in congested airspace—and doing it all without human pilots in charge. That means finding people who can develop complicated software that accounts for the vagaries of aeronautics.

“Merging those two is a gap you don’t see many people bridge,” says Richard Pat Anderson, who runs the Flight Research Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is developing his own VTOL aircraft.

So Thrun, best known for launching Google’s self-driving car program (now known as Waymo), plans to make that gap a lot smaller. Next year, his online education company, Udacity, will inaugurate the Flying Car Nanodegree Program. The course—whose cost and duration remain TBD—promises to prepare anybody who meets some key requirements for a job in this most Jetsons-y of industries.

Raff D’Andrea, co-founder of Kiva Systems, which Amazon bought in 2012 to operate its fulfillment centers, will help create Udacity’s Flying Car Nanodegree program.


Udacity hasn’t finalized the prerequisites for this course, but Thrun guesses they’ll look similar to those for the self-driving engineer course he started last year: strong programming skills and a good deal of math know-how. Anderson recommends students be skilled in things like differential calculus before signing up. “They require a pretty extensive skill set just to sit in the seat,” he says.

That’s because this is hard stuff. Udacity’s flying car cadets will have to master things like designing aircraft and controlling them in three dimensions while the wind is gusting in different directions. They must develop vehicles that can perfectly perceive the world around them, avoid fellow travelers, and identify safe landing spots, even (especially) when sensors fail and things go haywire.

Students should expect to spend 10-20 hours a week on the course. They’ll be doing projects instead of sitting through lectures, working in flight simulators on all of the above tasks. To build the curriculum and run the classes, Udacity has brought in a few experts: Nicholas Roy, from MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Angela Schoellig from the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies; and Raff D’Andrea, co-founder of Kiva Systems, which Amazon bought in 2012 to operate its fulfillment centers.

Anderson may doubt the efficacy of online education—he says his students perform better when he works with them in person—but he agrees there’s serious demand for this kind of expertise from the bevy of people trying to deliver flying as personal transport. And one of the key advantages of Udacity’s approach is that its courses are open to anyone who meets the prerequisites and has the money to pay for it (the self-driving engineer program, for examples, costs $2,400 for a 27-week course). You don’t have to go back to school full-time or somehow warp back into your 19-year-old self to get started on a new career.

So for anyone psyched about this future of flight, the good news is that all the companies trying to make it happen might soon have access to a bigger workforce. And for anyone who understands differential calculus: Go make us some flying cars already.

Lilium, a Flying Car Startup, Raises $90 Million

As desire in traveling cars and trucks proceeds to swell, a single of the most outstanding startups doing work on the technologies has gained a massive new backer.

Lilium Aviation, a German enterprise that held a prosperous check flight of the Eagle, its two-seat electrical jet at its Munich foundation this 12 months, introduced recently that it has raised $90 million in a new spherical of financing.

The expense was led by Tencent Holdings, the Chinese world-wide-web large. Other traders in the spherical bundled LGT, the expense car of Lichtenstein’s royal family Atomico, the undertaking firm operate by a founder of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Evident Ventures, the expense firm co-started by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. Zennstrom has earlier invested in the enterprise.

Lilium is amid several firms looking to usher in an period of Jetsons-type traveling cars and trucks, which include these backed by Google cofounder Larry Page, Uber and Airbus. But the two-12 months-previous enterprise is attempting to stand out by concentrating on an electrical jet—unlike other versions that proficiently operate far more like hovercraft.

The structure, by the four graduates of the Complex College of Munich who started Lilium, is intended to be far more power effective than competitors’ versions. As the startup shown with its Eagle in April, Lilium’s car is made to acquire off and land vertically, like a helicopter.

Lilium is also doing work on a even bigger, 5-seat variation of what it calls an “air taxi” that could ferry passengers or cargo as considerably as 300 kilometers, or 186 miles, and arrive at a highest speed of 300 kilometers an hour.

“We have extremely congested cities where we can do factors to strengthen issues,” stated Remo Gerber, Lilium’s main professional officer.


© 2017 The New York Situations

Picture Credits: Lilium by means of The New York Situations

Waymo wants to postpone the self-driving car technology trial with Uber

In light of the recent federal circuit ruling that Uber must hand over the due diligence report (the Stroz report) it conducted ahead of its acquisition of Otto, Waymo is requesting Judge William Alsup postpone the trial. The trial is currently scheduled to begin October 11.

“It’s now clear why Uber had fought so hard to hide these materials from Waymo and the Court,” a Waymo spokesperson told TechCrunch. “In addition to the Stroz Report, thousands of new documents and hundreds of previously unexamined devices are now being turned over to Waymo, adding to the direct evidence we’ve already found of trade secret misappropriation. They go to the heart of our case and in order to accommodate new depositions, expert reports and briefings, we’ve asked for additional time before trial.”

Last week, a federal circuit appeals judge ruled that Uber must hand over the due diligence report it commissioned ahead of its acquisition of self-driving truck startup Otto. For months, Waymo has argued this report, conducted by legal firm Stroz Friedberg, likely contains information pertinent to its allegations that one of its former engineers, Anthony Levandowski, stole thousands of files and brought them to Uber.

Now that Waymo is getting these documents, the company says it needs way more time to review them. As a result of the ruling, Uber and Stroz are producing thousands of new documents and hundreds of devices that were previously unavailable to Waymo.

Judge Alsup has set a private hearing to discuss the recent developments in the case tomorrow. On October 3, Alsup will host a hearing to discuss motions to continue the trial.

Uber declined to comment for this story.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

GTA Online Update Brings New Car to the Game

gta online update

Grand Theft Auto V has gotten a new car for players to add to their GTA Online garages, as the Dewbauchee Rapid GT Classic makes its way into the game alongside this week’s bonuses.

Described by Rockstar as a “deeply customizable sports classic”, the GT Classic is part of the weekly bonuses coming to GTA Online this week. Starting now through September 18, players will earn Double GTA$ and RP in the new Motor Wars mode. They can also earn twice the regular payouts in the Rockstar-created Stunt Races playlist.

For more information on this week’s bonuses for Grand Theft Auto V, check out below:

When he’s not busy broadcasting harebrained conspiracy theories on Blane County Radio, Ron’s refining his business acumen – having finagled buyers across the state into paying out Double GTA$ & RP for Cargo in Smuggler’s Run Sell Missions through September 18th. Plus, it is SecuroServ Employee Appreciation Week, with Bodyguards and Associates receiving Double GTA$ salaries.


Fight in flight with 25% off Countermeasures in your Hangar Workshop to evade incoming missiles and disorient attacking aircraft, as well as a handy 25% off Aircraft Engine and Armor Upgrades.

Whether you’re looking to benefit from this week’s bonus Stunt Race payouts or just looking to add a couple of crown jewels to your collection, grab 25% off the Truffade Nero (base price and upgrade) and the Pegassi Tempesta. Then, beef up your shiny new purchases (or any other car in your garage) with 25% off Engine and Armor Upgrades on all cars.


Go big, and go home with nice payouts in this week’s Premium Race & Time Trial events, live now through September 18th:

  • Premium Stunt Race – “Big M” (Locked to Motorbikes)
  • Time Trial – “LSIA”

Launch Premium Races through the Quick Job App on your in-game phone or via the yellow corona at Legion Square. The top three finishers will earn GTA$ and you’ll get Triple RP regardless of where you finish. To take a stab at the Time Trial, set a waypoint to the marker on your in-game map and enter via the purple corona. Beat par time and you’ll be duly rewarded with GTA$ & RP payouts.

[Source: Rockstar Blog]

Pittsburgh’s self-driving car boom means $200,000 pay packages for robotics grads

Pilot models of the Uber self-driving car are displayed at the Uber Advanced Technologies Center on September 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh.

Angelo Merendino | AFP | Getty Images

Pilot models of the Uber self-driving car are displayed at the Uber Advanced Technologies Center on September 13, 2016, in Pittsburgh.

There’s a war for talent in Pittsburgh’s booming autonomous car market.

It started with Uber and now includes Argo AI, which is majority owned by Ford, and a start-up called Aurora Innovation. With so much hiring, it’s a good time to be at the city’s prized academic institution, Carnegie Mellon University.

Andrew Moore, the dean of Carnegie Mellon’s computer science school, said that computer vision graduates right out of college are commanding pay packages of $200,000, which he described as “unheard of for any role until recently.”

In addition to Uber, Argo and Aurora, Moore said there’s a fourth self-driving car company in Pittsburgh that’s not yet talking publicly.

“One of the effects is this dramatic salary rise for anyone with robotics engineering skills,” said Moore, whose background is in artificial intelligence and robotics. “It does feel very much like a gold rush town at the moment.”

Moore, who previously spent eight years at Google and ran the company’s Pittsburgh office, estimates that there are 1,000 to 2,000 people in the city working on autonomous driving. Pittsburgh has become the de facto capital for self-driving car development, thanks to Carnegie Mellon’s top-ranked robotics program and the city’s openness to partnering with tech companies on risky endeavors.

Despite all of Uber’s legal, cultural and management troubles, the ride-hailing company is aggressively hiring in Pittsburgh. Uber currently has 60 job openings there in its advanced technologies group, which houses the self-driving engineering team.

Samsung will challenge Tesla with its own electric car batteries

Image: LightRocket via Getty Images

Samsung has chosen a wise time to start building long-range car batteries: China plans to ban gas-powered cars and automobile giant Volkswagen will offer electric versions of all their vehicles by 2030. 

These millions of forthcoming vehicles will need powerful batteries, and Samsung just introduced its “multifunctional battery packs” at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, which it claims can power electric cars for up to 430 miles. That would theoretically get you from Los Angeles to San Francisco with about 50 miles to spare.

For reference, Tesla says that the recently released Model 3, its affordable class vehicle, has batteries that can power the car for 220 miles.

The 200-mile difference between Tesla and Samsung sounds notable, but Tesla batteries have been powering its electric vehicles for years, while Samsung’s innovative offering has yet to hit the road. Without road-testing, its unknown what type and size of electric vehicle will actually be able to travel some 430 miles when powered by Samsung’s battery packs.

Although Samsung’s battery division, Samsung SDI, didn’t reveal too many details about its multifunctional battery pack, it has some similarities with the small, cylindrical batteries Tesla is putting into its Model 3, called the 2170 battery cell. Currently being produced in Tesla’s sprawling desert Gigafactory, these 2170 batteries can be held in the palm your hand, and Elon Musk calls them the highest density battery cells in the world.

Samsung is apparently placing similar cylindrical batteries (called 21700 batteries) in book or block-like modules that increase the batteries energy storage. In a press release, Samsung said that more of these battery-packed modules can be added to a vehicle to increase the vehicle’s driving range:

“Its users can change the number of modules as they want as if they place books on a shelf. For example, if 20 modules are installed in a premium car, it can go 600 to 700 kilometers. If 10 to 12 modules are mounted on a regular sedan, it can run up to 300 kilometers.”

If a sedan-like electric vehicle can run 700 kilometers (430 miles) without a charge, it will certainly prove a formidable challenge to Tesla’s electric sedans. For now, however, Tesla’s batteries are powering cars on roads all over the nation. And alongside these roads the company is strategically placing Supercharger stations to power up cars in “a matter of minutes” — for those taking their Teslas on trips across the country.


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Samsung Unveils Electric Car Battery with a 435-Mile Range

Samsung has managed to boost the capacity of electric car battery packs beyond those that are currently on the market, the company announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

As Volkswagen, BMW and others took to the stage to strut their stuff and boast about what makes their brand’s plug-in cars better than the rest, some of the most influential companies that produce the underlying technologies behind these cars deserve a bit of credit as well.

Samsung, the popular smartphone maker, also makes electric car batteries and unveiled a new battery pack at the show. By increasing energy density, the company says it’s packed more power into a single battery and addressed a challenge that all electric car makers face: achieving a longer range without compromising the size of their vehicles.  

Compared with Tesla’s 100 kWh battery, which has 16 modules consisting of 18650 cells that let its Model S P100D travel up to 315 miles on a single charge, using 16 of the Samsung battery packs, the same car could travel 348 miles, making it about 11 percent more efficient. Samsung says it could equip a premium car with up to 20 modules, giving it a range of about 435 miles, or a typical electric sedan with between 10 and 12 modules, allowing up to a 190-mile range. Unfortunately no data was made available on the theoretical test weight of either vehicle, nor the overall capacity of the batteries.

The packs use individual “2170” cells, which are named after their dimensions: 21 millimeters in height and 70 millimeters in diameter, notably the same dimensions as those used in the Tesla Model 3 manufactured at Tesla’s Gigafactory.

Using Samsung’s new battery technologies, however, may help more automakers develop longer-range vehicles, potentially boosting the shift to electric that many manufacturers are working toward today and even give Tesla and battery-maker Panasonic a run for their money.

Samsung’s New Car Battery Works Like ‘Books on a Shelf’ | News & Opinion

One battery full of modules allowing car manufacturers to easily choose the range of their cars simply by slotting more in or taking a few out.

Samsung SDI Frankfurt Motor Show 2017

Samsung SDI is using the Frankfurt Motor Show to showcase a new multifunction battery for electric vehicles that works on the same principle as placing books on a shelf.

Rather than offer a number of different battery pack models each with a set range, Samsung instead decided to go down the modular route. Their new battery pack can be fitted with up to 20 modules, offering a range of up to 700km. However, vehicle manufacturers can opt to place fewer modules within the pack, therefore reducing the range but offering greater flexibility in the design of the car around the battery.

As this one battery pack can offer multiple ranges, it also means lower costs for Samsung when it comes to manufacturing them, but also for vehicle manufacturers who can now place large orders for one type of battery pack and then install the appropriate number of modules to suit each car and range. They may even decide to let new car customers choose their own range and add the correct number of modules as each vehicle rolls off the production line.

Samsung also used the show to unveil two new type of battery cells and modules. The first is called “Low Height Cell” and features a height reduction of 20 percent over existing electric vehicle cells. By reducing the height, Samsung is allowing manufacturers to maximize the interior space of a vehicle.

New modules based on the “21700” cylindrical battery design were also introduced. Each 21700 cell is 21mm in diameter and 70mm tall while offering 50 percent more capacity than the 18650 battery that are commonly used today. To put that capacity gain into perspective, the 18650 battery measures 18.6mm in diameter and is 65.2mm tall. So that’s significantly more capacity for very little size increase.

We can expect to see 21700 batteries using in everything from electric cars and bikes through to electric tools and maybe even laptops just like the 18650 cells.

Grand Theft Auto Online Update Brings Sweet New Car, Double Payouts And More

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 12.59.17 PM

It’s Tuesday, which means we’ve got a fresh new update for Grand Theft Auto Online to jump into – and this time around, we’ve got a sweet new car to do it with.

The team at Rockstar Games has introduced the new Dewbauchee Rapid GT Classic, which is pictured above. “Step inside this deeply customizable Sports Classic today and experience the kind of technique and self-assurance only time (or a supercharged engine blower) can bestow,” the team has noted in the press release. You can snag it now through Legendary Motorsport.

In addition, a number of double payout opportunities have arisen. Starting now and running through September 18th, there are a number of ways to double up your GTA$ and RP, by taking part in the new Motor Wars mode, as well as earning payouts through all Rockstar-created Stunt Races. That means you have nearly a full week to stack up your cash!

There’s also double payout available for all Smuggler’s Run Sell Missions, and Bodyguards and Associates will be able to receive Double GTA$ Salaries all week long, so it’s time to put them to work.

In addition, various discounts for aircraft and ground vehicles are also available, with 25 percent off Countermeasures in the Hangar Workshop, as well as a similar discount for Aircraft Engine and Armor Upgrades.

You can also snag the Pegassi Tempesta and Truffade Nero for 25 percent off, as well as Armor and Engine Upgrades for all vehicles.

As for this week’s Premium Race and Time Trial, you’ll be able to partake in the Big M event with motorbikes, from now through September 18th. If Time Trial is your thing, there’s an event called LSIA that you can take part in. Complete them both and you’ll get some nice payouts for your trouble.

So while there’s not a significant update this week like there was when Smuggler’s Run launched a little while back, there’s still more than enough new stuff to do to keep you entertained. So jump online and we’ll see you on the race track!

Grand Theft Auto Online is available now as part of Grand Theft Auto V, for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Future Mobility brings connected car age – Business

Future Mobility brings connected car age

Carsten Breitfeld, CEO of Future Mobility Corp, introduces the Byton SUV’s innovative user interface. [Photo provided to China Daily]

FMC launches Byton brand, a next-generation smart device

Chinese electric car startup Future Mobility Corp said it is now ready to charge ahead into an increasingly digitalized era with its brand Byton, an ambition made public last week in Shanghai.

“Byton is inspired by ‘bytes on wheels’. Byte stands for the internet and wheel stands for the auto industry. We want to build Byton into the next-generation smart device,” said Daniel Kirchert, president of the 1-year-old startup when he addressed the audience.

Kirchert believes that a pleasant onboard experience is becoming increasingly important as the auto industry evolves and traffic is becoming heavier in cities.

“We are not made to wait in traffic. We are made to live our life to the full, to enjoy the moment we have. So for mobility engineers for the next 100 years, it’s no longer about refining cars, it’s about refining life.

“We are here to turn driving into living, we are here to provide enjoyable time for people on the move,” he said.

Carsten Breitfeld, former head of BMW’s i8 program and now CEO of FMC, said Byton models are a combination of three things: a smart internet communicator, a spacious luxury living room and a fully electric car.

One highlight is the large display. Measuring 125 centimeters long and 25 cm tall, it will provide everything drivers need and is also designed to share the experience with passengers sitting in the front and second rows.

Steering wheels on Byton models are installed with a touch-screen tablet that will allow the driver to interact with the shared experience display, offering the car’s most important information and control functions at the driver’s fingertips.

Byton’s first model, a midsized SUV, is to make its debut at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in early 2018. It will start production in 2019.

Breitfeld said it has the size of an Audi Q5 but boasts the space of a Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan.

The model will have different versions, running 350 kilometers or 500 km on one charge. Within 10 minutes of charging, it can drive as far as 120 km.

The first Byton is “prepared for autonomy”, according to Breitfeld.

“It will have the hardware – the sensors and computing power – that enable it to achieve up to level five autonomous driving, whereas the actual autonomous capability can be flexibly enabled and upgraded by software and over the air.”

Besides the SUV, a sedan is scheduled to hit the market in 2021 and a seven-seat MPV, 2022.

FMC’s plant in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, which has a designed annual capacity of 300,000 units, has been under construction for some time. When phase one of the plant is finished in 2019, it will be able to produce 100,000 cars a year.

“I believe our startup is founded just at the right time – the coming age of connected cars. Just as Tesla being the pioneer of electric cars, we want to be the pioneer of connected cars,” said Breitfeld.