Building a functioning robot capable of performing even the simplest of tasks requires you to have a particular set of skills. Taking some of the best Udacity Robotics courses can help you acquire these skills as well as the theoretical and practical knowledge you need to make your first robot.
Robotics has found its way into numerous industries by offering a way to automate production processes and improving safety in different work environments.
A few years ago, police departments started utilizing the services of robot dogs to protect the lives of their officers, while the automotive industry has used robots on assembly lines for more than 50 years.
Completing one or more of the best Udacity Robotics courses will bring you up to speed with the latest trends in this field and help you develop the skills you need to build robots.
Check out our guide to the best Udacity Machine Learning courses for more information about the learning opportunities in this field provided by this platform.
The 5 Best Udacity Robotics Courses
|Robotics Software Engineer||4 months||Advanced||$399 per month|
|Artificial Intelligence for Robotics||2 months||Advanced||Free|
|Sensor fusion engineer||4 months||Advanced||$399 per month|
|Computer Vision||3 months||Advanced||$399 per month|
|Intro to Self-Driving Cars||4 months||Intermediate||$399 per month|
How to approach robotics?
Understanding the fundamental concepts of robotics is impossible without prior knowledge of several related fields. So, the process of becoming a robotics engineer begins with the first math lessons you ever take.
You also need to know which area of robotics you want to explore, since assuming that the science of building robots is one-dimensional would be a huge mistake. The five primary areas of robotics are:
- Operator interface
- Manipulators and Effectors
- Sensing and perception
Hence, you’ll need a different set of skills to program the robot’s actions and to design a sensor that enables it to move through the physical space. Each of these areas of robotics is complex and it is unlikely that you can master each of them.
Nevertheless, you must understand all aspects of the field to grasp fully its challenges and the obstacles you’ll be facing while building a robot. Read our Pluralsight vs Udacity comparison to find out which online learning platform offers better robotics courses.
Robotics sits at an intersection between engineering, applied science, and computer science, and you need a deep understanding of each of these fields to start learning robotics. Mathematics and physics are at the core of the skills you need to build robots.
You won’t be able to solve even the simplest robotics problems without the advanced knowledge of algebra and geometry.
On the other hand, being familiar with kinetics, material science or energetics will enable you to understand which materials can be used to build a robot, how to power it, or which laws define its scope of movements.
You can’t pick these skills up as you go, since each of them is a prerequisite for entering the field of robotics.
Consequently, following the lectures on Udacity’s Robotics courses is impossible if you’re struggling with algebra, kinetics or if you don’t know how to use the C++ programming language.
Read our Udemy vs Udacity comparison to find out which e-learning platform can help you prepare better for taking a robotics course.
Building a workshop
Before you enroll in one of the Udacity robotics courses you first need to set up a space where you can bring your ideas to life. Aside from a computer, you will need to design prototypes and program the robot’s actions, you’ll also have to assemble the robot’s hardware.
An Arduino Uno board, direct current motors, breadboards, or batteries are among the items you need to build a robot. You’ll also need a socket set, cordless drill, and various other tools to put all of the robot’s components together.
Adding a 3D printer or a CNC machine to your workshop will extend your options during the process of creating a robot. You’ll also need different types of circuits that will transmit the electric current generated by the battery to all of the robot’s components.
Keep in mind that building a robot can be an expensive endeavor since the tools, software, and hardware aren’t always moderately priced.
What is ROS and how does it work?
ROS stands for Robotic Operating System, and it is composed of several frameworks that are used to develop software used by robots. Its ecosystem is divided into three categories:
- Application-related packages
- Client library implementations
- Tools for creating ROS software
This open-source suite is written in C++, Lisp, or Python and it is compatible with the Linux OS. The versions of the suite that are compatible with macOS and Windows are still in experimental stages.
Go through our guide to the best C++ online courses if you need to improve your knowledge of this programming language.
The core functionalities of this framework collection are extended by a broad spectrum of tools that enable you to visualize data or automate different setup procedures.
This middleware lets its users select the tools they want to utilize on a particular project and it supports a wide range of libraries and software that can be used on different types of projects.
The ROS’ technical requirements are demanding and you’ll need a computer with lots of processing power to run the middleware smoothly.
Besides knowing how to write code that determines the robot’s functions, you have to design its visual appearance. To achieve this task you have to master modeling software, such as CAD or Fusion 360.
At the moment, Udacity doesn’t offer design courses, but you can go through our guide to the best online graphic design courses if you don’t feel confident using modeling software.
These software products allow you to visualize ideas and define how each component of your robot is going to look like. Besides, CAD and Fusion 360 are compatible with a wide array of 3D printers and you can use them to create the components you need to complete your project.
Learning how to use modeling software takes time and practice and you should start with relatively simple projects if you’re not an experienced designer.
The advantages of taking Udacity Robotics courses
Gaining knowledge and experience
Learning how to use your coding skills to create software that enables robots to interact with their environment may help you to advance in your career.
Udacity’s Robotics courses grant you an insight into the latest practices within this field and show you how to use the skills you already have to create software for robots.
Great supplementary courses for robotics students
Enrolling in one of Udacity’s robotics courses can be a great way to complement the robotics courses you take at your university. You can choose subjects that are closest to your area of expertise to expand your understanding of the field.
An opportunity to work on exciting projects
You will have to complete several projects that involve designing a mobile robot or create a simulation of a home service robot to get the Udacity’s Robotics Nanodegree.
The disadvantages of taking Udacity Robotics courses
All programs focus on the programming aspect of robotics
None of Udacity’s Nanodegree programs that are related to robotics in one way or the other cover the technical aspects of building a robot. Consequently, you won’t be learning how to solve problems that involve circuitry or the mechanical issues your prototype may encounter.
Aspects worth considering while choosing a Udacity Robotics course
Robotics is a complex and wide field that covers anything from figuring out how to power a robot to how to teach it to react to real-life stimuli. That’s why you have to decide which area of robotics you want to specialize in before selecting a Udacity Robotics course.
The e-learning platform offers several Nanodegree programs that cover topics such as computer vision, software engineering, or artificial intelligence. Here are some of the aspects you should take into consideration while searching for a Udacity Robotics course.
The program’s requirements
You won’t be able to enroll in a Udacity Robotics Nanodegree program unless you have an excellent command of algebra, calculus, and probability. A high level of familiarity with the C++ programming language is also a prerequisite for attending robotics courses at Udacity.
The middleware and software that is used to code the commands robots execute needs a lot of processing power to run smoothly. Also, creating robot simulations requires you to have a powerful graphics card.
Most Robotics Nanodegree programs take around 4 months to complete and you have to dedicate between 10 and 15 hours to them every week. Despite having a flexible learning schedule Udacity’s robotics courses might take a lot of your time.
The topics covered in the syllabus
Besides choosing the area of robotics that interests you, it is advisable to go through the syllabus of the program you’d like to take and check if the topics it covers are relevant for what you want to learn.
For instance, most of Udacity’s robotics courses are based around ROS, and you won’t be able to learn how to use an alternative middleware.
The Robotics Nanodegree programs don’t necessarily prepare you for a specific job as some of them offer knowledge that can be applied in different contexts.
The platform doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to find employment after obtaining a Nanodegree, and you must choose the courses that are likely to help you move forward in your career.
Top five Udacity Robotics courses
Robotics Software Engineer – Best for programmers interested in Robotics
Collaborating directly with one of Udicaty’s founders, Sebastian Thrun is one of the advantages of attending the Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program. This advanced program comprises six individual courses that take you from the introduction to robotics to path planning and navigation.
You must be proficient at using at least one programming language, but the excellent command of C++ is probably the most beneficial for this program. The Robotics Software Engineer program lasts for four months. You will have to spend up to 15 hours on it every week.
- All instructors are leading authorities in their fields
- Engaging learning materials
- The course opens a wide range of work opportunities
- You can learn at your own pace
- High enrollment requirements
- Not a budget-friendly option
Artificial Intelligence for Robotics – Best for understanding applications of AI in Robotics
You can learn how to program the systems of a robotic car for free if you decide to take the Artificial Intelligence for Robotics course. Sebastian Thrun is the only instructor on this two-month course that is developed in collaboration with Georgia Tech University.
The course is divided into six lessons that range from localization to PID control and SLAM. Each lesson covers different topics like uniform distribution, motion planning, or path smoothing. Familiarity with Python programming language, linear algebra, and probability is required for participation in this course
You won’t get a certificate after completing this course.
- Helps students understand how AI is utilized in robotics
- Covers of basic methods of AI
- Enables students to apply their knowledge and solve problems
- No entry fee
- You must know Python to take this course
- The platform doesn’t offer certification after the course
Sensor Fusion Engineer– Best for learning how to merge data from multiple sensors
Developed in collaboration with Mercedes, the Sensor Fusion Engineer Nanodegree program shows students how to track the non-linear movement of objects. The course spans over four months and requires ten hours of weekly engagement.
The syllabus covers Lidar, Radar, Cameras, and Kalman filters and it shows you how to process, analyze and fuse data acquired from different types of sensors.
Completing this Udacity’s Nanodegree program makes you eligible for positions like Image Engineer, Automated Vehicle Engineer, or Sensor Fusion Engineer.
You should keep in mind that the enrollment prerequisites for this Nanodegree program are as demanding as for the Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program.
- Developed with one of the largest companies in the automotive industry
- The program contains four courses
- Students work on interesting projects
- Great career opportunities
- Not a great option for students who aren’t familiar with robotics
- The program requires advanced knowledge of mathematics.
Computer Vision – Best for coders who want to learn how robots see
If you feel confident using Python, and you have a background in statistics, then you should consider enrolling in the Computer Vision Nanodegree program.
You need to know different machine learning techniques and have experience with deep learning frameworks such as Keras, PyTorch, or TensorFlow. During the course, you will learn how to combine CNN and RNN networks and create an app that adds captions to images automatically.
Employing image processing techniques to develop algorithms that detect faces and learning how to utilize computer vision to localize and track objects are among the topics this program covers.
- Instructors have vast experience in the field
- A great complimentary program for robotics students
- The program was developed in collaboration with industry-leading tech companies
- Covers a broad range of topics related to computer vision
- The program doesn’t prepare students for a specific job
- Students must dedicate 15 hours per week to this program
Intro to Self-Driving Cars – Best for understanding fundamental concepts of autonomous systems
Attending the Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree program might be a good idea if you want to familiarize yourself with the fundamental concept of computer vision and machine learning. The program’s title is somewhat misleading since it isn’t aimed at beginners.
You’ll need previous programming experience and an understanding of linear algebra and statistics to complete the program. The courses in the Intro to Self-Driving Cars program enable you to become familiar with the concepts of Bayesian thinking and teach you how to work with matrices.
During the program, students cover the basics of the C++ programming language and learn how to translate a program written in Python to C++.
- Students learn the basics of machine learning and computer vision
- Great teaching staff
- Excellent preparation for students who want to take Udacity’s advanced robotics courses
- Students learn a new programming language
- It takes a lot of work to complete this program
- Not aimed at people who don’t know how to write, read or edit code
Frequently asked questions about Udacity Robotics courses
Answer: There are no beginner robotics courses at Udacity, but the platform offers a broad range of introductory courses that will enable you to gain the skills you need to enroll in a robotics course.
Answer: The amount of time you have at your disposal depends on the program you choose, but in most cases, it takes between three to six months to obtain a Nanodegree.
Answer: You can start attending classes a week after you sign up for a Robotics Nanodegree. However, the platform will inform you how long you have to wait before the program begins.
Answer: The platform enables you to get in touch with your mentor if you’re struggling with a project. Also, you can reach out to your Slack learner community to seek advice.
Our Verdict: Is taking Udacity Robotics courses a good idea?
Robotics is an exciting field that is expected to keep growing in the foreseeable future. That’s why now might be the right time to start developing the skills you need to design software for robots or develop systems that enable them to avoid obstacles.
This field is already wide and it will continue to expand, so you must find the niche you’re the most comfortable with. We recommend Udacity’s Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program if you want to learn how to code the actions a robot performs.
On the other hand, if you’re more interested in how robots acquire and process visual data, then the Computer Vision Nanodegree program is the right choice for you. Which of the best Udacity courses are you going to choose?
Let us know in the comments or continue reading our guide to the
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