On March 8, 2017, it was announced to the world from the stage of Intersect 2017 that Udacity and DiDi were partnering to sponsor a $100k Self-Driving Car Challenge. To which the world has since responded: challenge accepted!
Over 1000 teams have signed up to compete in the challenge, with registrants coming in from the US, China, India, Canada, Germany, the UK, Japan, and more. The final deadline to register is April 21, 2017 at 11:59 PM PST, but the clock is already ticking! Join the competition today, create or join a team, and get ready, because the first round of the challenge starts on March 22nd!
What IS The Self-Driving Car Challenge?
The Udacity-DiDi Self-Driving Car challenge is a first-of-its kind competition designed to provide self-driving car enthusiasts across the globe the opportunity to compete for a $100,000 prize, and the chance to have their code run on Udacity’s open-source autonomous vehicle—the world’s first!
The competition focuses on a core feature of self-driving cars—the Automated Safety and Awareness Processing Stack (ASAPS), which identifies stationary and moving objects from a moving car, and uses data that includes Velodyne point cloud, radar objects, and camera image frames. Competitors are challenged to create a redundant, safe, and reliable system for detecting hazards that will increase driving safety for both manual and self-driving vehicles.
The World’s First Open-Source Autonomous Vehicle
Early seeds for this competition were sown when Udacity first decided to build an open-source autonomous vehicle. As Udacity’s Oliver Cameron explained in his Medium post detailing the project, “We want to give the world the ability to contribute code to a real self-driving car that will run on the road—a learning experience that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet. Opportunities exist to contribute to Linux, React, and thousands of other open source projects, but nowhere can you contribute code that will run on a real self-driving car.”
Udacity followed the initial announcement—made by Sebastian Thrun at Disrupt in September of 2016—with a series of challenges addressing various problems associated with making a vehicle autonomous—early challenges included building a 3D camera mount, and using deep learning to predict steering angles—with the result that the world’s first open-source autonomous vehicle very quickly became an actual reality.
The Udacity-DiDi challenge opens an amazing new chapter in this incredible endeavor. As Didi CTO Bob Zhang noted when he spoke at Intersect 2017, “DiDi is the world’s largest mobile transportation platform. We have over 400 million users and we complete over 20 million rides daily. Every three seconds, drivers across China upload their current location and speed. That gives us an extra 70 terabytes of data every 24 hours.”
DiDi’s Transportation Innovation
As reported recently by TechCrunch, DiDi has officially opened its U.S.-based research lab in Mountain View, CA, with a focus on “AI-based security and intelligent driving technologies.” Coming on the heels of Apple’s $1 billion investment in the company last year, and the recent high-profile hiring of former Uber engineer Charlie Miller, the launch of the new lab punctuates DiDi’s rapidly increasing significance in the AI and self-driving car spaces, and makes the Udacity-DiDi partnership all the more exciting.
During his remarks at Udacity’s Intersect 2017 conference, Zhang outlined a vision for the future of transportation innovation:
In the next ten years, innovation in transportation will have three layers. The bottom layer is optimizing our infrastructure. This includes building smarter traffic lights, and using data to plan road networks. The middle layer is a transition from gas-filled vehicles to efficient new energy vehicles. At the same time, intelligent driving technologies will greatly enhance safety. At the top layer, the relationship between people and cars will be redefined.
Zhang’s words describing this “third layer” of transportation innovation echo sentiments expressed by other future-minded innovators like Affectiva CEO Dr. Rana El Kaliouby (also a speaker at Intersect 2017), who sees AI and related technologies as providing “a golden opportunity to reimagine how we connect with machines and therefore how we, as human beings, connect with one another,” and NIO CEO Padmasree Warrior (a recent Udacity Talks guest), who has said that, “the future is not really about driving, it is about being, and that is the power of the Car 3.0. In the future cars will give us freedom with our time, they won’t imprison us for hours at a time on roads.”
DiDi knows success at this level and scale requires the very best talent, and this recognition is at the heart of DiDi’s partnership with Udacity—not only is DiDi our partner for the challenge, they are also a hiring partner for both our Self-Driving Car and Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree programs.
You Must Join TODAY to Compete In The Udacity-Didi Self-Driving Car Challenge!
The most important thing aspiring competitors need to understand is that the time to join the competition is now! The first round begins on March 22, 2017, so you need to join today, get on a team, and get ready to go to work.
There is a $100k prize awaiting the winning team, plus the opportunity to see your code in action on the Udacity self-driving car, plus the chance to get flown to Silicon Valley to meet with Udacity’s executives and members of our self-driving car team!
You may want the money. You may desire the fame. You may dream of coming to Silicon Valley. You may thrill to the idea of your code running on our car.
Or, you may just want to make the world a safer and more efficient place.
No matter your motivation, if you think you’ve got what it takes to power the next great leap forward for autonomous vehicle technology, then join the Udacity-DiDi Self-Driving Car Challenge today, and get ready for some high-speed, high-stakes innovation!
This challenge is all about transformative technologies and forward-thinking skills—exactly what our Nanodegree programs teach. You may already be enrolled in one or more, in which case you’re not only an ideal challenge competitor, you’re part of a future-minded vanguard that’s going to change the world! If you haven’t enrolled yet, do so today. This challenge wants you, and the future needs you!