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Udacity Launches DeepRacer Challenge

By Cait Etherington
July 17, 2019

In the past, Udacity has teamed up with both Facebook and Lyft to launch challenges leading to scholarships. Last summer, for example, Udacity launched the Lyft Perception Challenge. This summer, Udacity is launching a new challenge—this time with Amazon Web Services. The focus of the latest challenge–the DeepRacer challenge–is reinforcement learning.

Amazon Web Services’ DeepRacer 3D Racing Simulator

In recent years, there has been a lot of news about the arrival of autonomous vehicles and the need to train workers for this emerging field of research and development. Unfortunately, developing and testing autonomous vehicles has also run into more than a few problems. One town in Arizona that originally welcomed testing has had such a huge change of heart that locals have even started attacking autonomous vehicles.

As a way to scale autonomous vehicle development without putting humans at risk, simulations continue to gain ground. This is essentially the point of Amazon Web Services’ DeepRacer–a 1:18-scale model for exploring the potential of reinforcement learning or RL.

RL is a form of machine learning that enables machine’s to adapt and learn based on complex incoming data. Rather than experiment in life-size models and in real environments, however, DeepRacer offers a way to develop the same technologies in a fun, gamified environment. For those who want to get competitive, Amazon has even launched a DeepRacer League that invites developers to test out their products on a competitive track. Now, Udacity is teaming up with Amazon to explore DeepRacer’s educational potential.

Udacity’s DeepRacer Challenge

Udacity’s latest challenge, the DeepRacer Scholarship Challenge, will offer scholarships to students interested in honing their machine learning skills. Indeed, winners of the latest Udacity challenge will have a chance to win a full scholarship to Udacity’s Machine Learning Nanodegree program.

To win a scholarship, students will need to develop, train, and troubleshoot a reinforcement learning model in the context of Amazon Web Services’ DeepRacer 3D racing simulator. Along the way, learners will also have access to support from Udacity, including peer feedback and webinars.

Like other recent Udacity challenges, the new Amazon Web Services’ challenge consists of two parts. First, thanks to Amazon, anyone will be able to enroll in the AWS-designed course, DeepRacer, for free. Second, 200 top performers will be offered a scholarship to pursue Udacity’s Machine Learning Nanodegree. Without a scholarship, students usually pay $399 per month to complete Udacity’s three-month program in machine learning.

Whether or not one wins Udacity’s latest challenge, everyone has a lot to gain by signing up. Specifically, learners will acquire experience working with reinforcement learning models and develop the skills needed to apply their new knowledge to a scaled physical car. By the end of the course, learners will also be ready to join Amazon Web Services’ DeepRacer League.

Udacity’s Partners

In recent years, Udacity’s business model has increasingly relied on rolling out programs with corporate partners. In 2018, in addition to its challenge with Lyft, Udacity launched a partnership with WorldQuant, a quantitative asset management firm. In 2017, Udacity partnered with Infosys to offer a FastTrack Program to scale technology training.

Ready to join Udacity’s DeepRacer? Details are available on the Udacity website.  Applications for Udacity’s newest scholarship challenge will open on August 1.

Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash.

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