Udacity Robotics Nanodegree Review - Online Course How

Udacity Robotics Nanodegree Review

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If you are looking for a robotics course, then you might have noticed that it can be difficult to decide whether or not the available courses are suitable for you.

There are lots of different online course platforms to choose from, but not many of them offer robotics courses as it is not as popular as some other subjects.

It can become frustrating when you are trying to find the perfect robotics course when there aren’t as many available as other types of courses, as it limits the selection. When there are already so few courses available to choose from, it becomes even harder to find one that meets your requirements.

The good news is that Udacity offers a Robotics Nanodegree course, and this is the course that we are going to be looking at in-depth in this article. There are lots of different things that you will need to consider to figure out whether or not this course is suitable for you, and we will explain them all here for you.

By the end of this article, you will know everything that you need to know about what this course has to offer and if it would be a good choice for you.

What is the Udacity Robotics Nanodegree?

If you want to begin to explore the world of robotics software engineering by following a practical system-focused approach to programming robots using the ROS framework and C++, then this is the course for you.

As well as this, you can also take part in this course to learn and apply robotics software engineering algorithms, like localization, mapping, and navigation.

If you choose to take on this course, you will need to complete five interactive and hands-on projects. You will be told how to do so, and these projects will allow you to form the core of an outstanding work portfolio that you will be able to use to showcase your advanced skills to potential employers.

Once you have graduated from the course, you will have all the key skills, knowledge, and information that you need if you are looking for a career in robotics.

You will be able to take part in the different modules to further your knowledge, and then apply it through hands-on projects. This will help you to retain all the knowledge that you have gained throughout the course, ensuring that it sticks with you. Ultimately, this is a great course for anyone who wants to progress in this industry.

Meet the Instructors

Who are the Instructors?

One of the best things about this course is that it is taught by experienced professionals that know exactly what they are doing.

Lots of course platforms do not offer instructors with such a level of expertise and experience, but Udacity certainly does. You can be assured that the information that you are given is correct and genuine, and the instructors that take you through this course know exactly what they are talking about. 

Before we take a look at all the things you need to know about this course, we are going to tell you what you need to know about the instructors. These will be the people that are there to guide you through the course, and they are often able to provide step-by-step instructions along the way.

They can also give you advice from their own personal experiences in the industry to help guide you through it. We will leave the list of the instructors of this course below.

Sebastian Thrun

Sebastian is one of the instructors on this course, and he is the founder and president of Udacity and Google X. He has also previously worked on a number of projects in the industry, including self-driving cars.

David Silver

Another instructor on this course is David Silver, who spent the beginning of his career as a research engineer with Ford.

After this, he branched out to work with other leading companies, before finding himself at Udacity, working as the lead of Autonomous Systems. 

Karim Chamaa

Karim is another instructor that runs this course, and he started off his career as a mechanical engineer that later moved on to mechatronics and robotics.

Through this field, he was able to gain excellent expertise in kinematics and control.

Julia Chernushevich

The fourth and final instructor on this course worked on electric vehicles for underground mines.

Before coming to Udacity to share her knowledge and wisdom, Julia taught mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo.

What Are the Prerequisites for This Course?

Unfortunately for some, there are some prerequisites for enrolling in this course. You will need some prior knowledge and experience if this is the course that you want to do, but you can also gain this through the same platform on another course if this is something that you want to pursue.

If you are passionate about the robotics industry, then it is definitely worth taking a look to find out what you need to do to take part.

In order to optimize your chances of success in the Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program, there is a list of prerequisites and recommendations that will help you to prepare for the program curriculum. If you wish to enroll in this course, you will need to have the following knowledge:

  • Advanced knowledge in any object-oriented programming language, preferably C++
  • Intermediate Probability
  • Intermediate Calculus
  • Intermediate Linear Algebra
  • Basic Linux Command Lines

If you are an aspiring roboticist, but you have a limited background in math or programming, all is not lost. Udacity has created the Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree program, which you can take part in to help you prepare for this course.

So, even if you are not ready to enroll yet, there are some things that you can do to get ready. This program will teach C++, linear algebra, calculus, and statistics.

If you do not meet the enrollment requirements, then you should take the Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree program to help prepare you for this more advanced program. It will teach you all of the foundation skills that you are going to need in order to be successful while taking part in the Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program.

Now that you know what the prerequisites are for this program, we can take a look at everything else that you need to know about it, including the included modules, the length of time it will take to complete, the overall cost of the course, and what happens next.

For aspiring roboticists who currently have a limited background in programming or math, we’ve created the Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree program to help you prepare. This program teaches C++, linear algebra, calculus, and statistics.

Course Breakdown of Modules

This Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program has five different projects that you will need to complete throughout the course.

There is also content and curriculum to support you while you complete these projects, and once you have completed each one, it will be reviewed by the Udacity reviewer network. 

Once they have reviewed the project, you will be provided with feedback, and if you do not pass the project, then you will be asked to resubmit it until you do pass. We will leave the course outline, five projects, and what you can expect from them below.

Introduction To Robotics

At the start of the course, you will learn about the essential elements of robotics, meet your instructors, and get familiar with the tools that you will need to help you succeed in this program.

Gazebo World

Next, you will learn about how robot simulation is an essential tool to have in every roboticist’s toolbox. Gazebo World is a well-designed simulator that makes it possible for you to test algorithms, design robots, perform regression testing, and train AI systems using realistic scenarios.

You will start this program by prototyping robots in the Gazebo simulators, which offers you the ability to accurately and efficiently simulate populations of robots in complex indoor and outdoor environments. You will be able to learn how to build new environments and deploy assets in Gazebo.

You will be using Gazebo for the first project, which is titled Build My Word, where you will simulate the inside and outside of a one-floor environment that will house your future robot. This will allow you to gain proficiency with Gazebo, and with C++ plugins. 

ROS Essentials

In this second module, you will be able to tackle the Robot Operating System (ROS). You will start with an architectural overview of the Robot Operating System Framework, and progress to learning about the ROS workspace structure, essential command-line utilities, and how to manage software packages within a project. You will also explore ROS Nodes. You will be writing nodes in C++ to control a robotic arm in Gazebo.

The second project is the Go Chase It project, where you will use ROS to design and build a mobile robot. You will then go on to house the robot in the environment that you created in the first project. Through this module, you will acquire skills in:

  • ROS catkin workspaces
  • ROS packages
  • ROS nodes
  • ROS launch files
  • RViz integration
  • C++


The third module is where you will learn how to use probabilistic localization algorithms to estimate a robot’s position and orientation.

The first thing you will do is learn what it means to localize and gain an understanding of the challenges it presents. Next, you will learn what a Kalman filter is, and understand its importance in estimating noisy data.

You will be able to implement an Extended Kalman Filter package with ROS to estimate the position of a robot and learn the MCL (Monte Carlo Localization) algorithm to localize robots. You will also learn how to code the MCL algorithm in C++.

The third project is called Where Am I? And within this project, you will develop an autonomous driving system to localize your robot. This will require you to write a C++ node that will navigate your robot through a series of waypoints. Next, you will need to localize it with an AMCL localization package in ROS.

Mapping and SLAM

The fourth module is where you will start to study mapping algorithms. By combining mapping with the skills that you have learned so far, you will be able to implement Simultaneous Localization and Mapping, or SLAM.

You will learn the occupancy grid mapping algorithm, and code it with C++, and then learn how to simultaneously map an environment and localize a robot relative to the map with the Grid-based FastSLAM algorithm. You will then be able to apply these skills by following the given instructions.

The fourth project is the Map My World Robot project, where you will use an RTAB-Map SLAM package with ROS to simultaneously localize your robot and create 2D and 3D maps of your world.

Path Planning and Navigation

The fifth and final module is where you will learn how to search for a path and navigate it with classical, sample-based, and probabilistic algorithms.

The first thing you will learn is a number of classic path planning approaches that can be applied to low-dimensional robotic systems. After this, you will be able to code the BFS and A* algorithms in C++. Finally, you will go on to learn about sample-based and probabilistic path planning, and how they can improve on the classic approach.

The last project that you will need to complete is called the Home Service Robot Project. For this project, you will integrate everything you’ve learned in this Nanodegree program to build a home service robot that will navigate to pick up and deliver objects inside a world of your own creation.

How Long Does the Course Take?

It is estimated that if you were to dedicate 10 to 15 hours a week to complete this program, it would take you around four months to finish it.

The total amount of time that it takes you to finish this course entirely will depend on how much time you have available to dedicate to your studies.

However, you should know that if you pay for the cheaper of the two plans, then you will only have 4 months to complete the course as this is the length of time that you are limited to.

How Much Does It Cost?

There are currently two different options to choose from in terms of paying for this program. The first of these choices is the four-month access plan, which will cost $232.

Udactity recommends that you can complete this course within four months, so if you choose this option, you get access to the course at a discounted price. One of the best things about this option is that you can switch to the pay-monthly option if you are running out of time towards the end of the four months. 

The second payment option is the pay as you go plan, which will cost $359 a month, and this will be billed monthly. This means that you can take your time and complete the program as and when you are able to.

However, the costs of this course are much higher, and the total amount that you pay will depend on how long it takes you to complete the course.

What Have Other Learners Said?

This program currently has a 4.6 star rating on the Udacity website, which also allows you to see what other learners have said about the course. We will leave some of the reviews below for you to take a look at. 

‘The program is going very well for me. The material and projects have proven more difficult than I expected, but this is good as it has challenged me to push myself to really understand the material. My only complaint about the course is the difficulty of using the VM, particularly when interacting with Gazebo and RViz’ (5 Stars).

‘I enjoyed the lessons. They are very well structured and explained with a lot of graphics, animations, and examples. It is very exciting to work on projects in complex and well-prepared environments. It’s a great feeling to control a rover, a robot, and a quadcopter with your own code and self-trained networks.

You really need enough free time, at least the said 15h per week, to do your job well. Many thanks to the staff for giving me that experience’ (5 stars).

What is the Job Market Like for Robotics?

The demand for software engineers with advanced skills in robotics currently exceeds the current supply of qualified talent. This makes this the perfect career to pursue if robotics is what you are interested in.

You will graduate from this program with valuable knowledge and experience in this field, which will help you to create an advanced portfolio of work that demonstrates the skills that you have learned.

Some opportunities that could arise from this program are:

  • Developing pick and place robotics systems for advanced manufacturing.
  • Developing the next surgical robot for the healthcare industry.
  • Building the next form of package delivery either on the ground or in the air.
  • Designing exploratory robots that can be deployed to discover new planets.
  • Designing rescue robots to assist people in disasters.

Is This Course for Me?

This program seems to be perfect for anyone who meets the required prerequisites to be able to join the course.

You will need to have some prior knowledge and experience in order to take part, so this course is not suitable for beginners. However, you can take Udemy’s other courses to help to prepare you for this one.

About the Author Jacob M.

Jacob has a background in finance and engineering. Outside of his day job, he is a lifelong learner, who enjoys reading, taking online courses, and writing about what he's learned.

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