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Udacity, Tier IV tie up in driverless car development

To help develop a new autonomous vehicle, contestant ideas will be tested using Udacity's Lincoln MKZ.

NAGOYA, Japan -- U.S. online education provider Udacity will partner with Tier IV, a Nagoya-based developer of autonomous vehicle technology, to build a new self-driving car, employing a public idea contest.

Udacity is the brainchild of President Sebastian Thrun, an expert in artificial intelligence and developer of self-driving cars when he was with Google. The company has expanded its training programs for software developers and the like, including one especially for driverless car engineers.

The online education programs that Udacity and other U.S. companies offer are gaining popularity, particularly among Asian engineer and students who do not have the time or money to study in the U.S. In August, ride-hailing app leader Grab partnered with U.S. venture nuTonomy to test autonomous taxis in Singapore, a clear example of growing interest in self-driving cars in Asia. So it is likely that Udacity's online training programs and idea contest will draw public attention across the region.

In driverless car development the partners will use the Autoware operating system, which Tier IV is promoting. With an Autoware-enabled vehicle at the ready, Udacity through its website has been soliciting ideas from the public on several themes, such as "using deep learning to predict steering angles," for about a month.

Tier IV helps Udacity install Autoware in its own vehicle and hopes contestants will ask many technology questions. The companies project participation from about 10,000 contestants. Tier IV will apply the contest results to improve operating system performance and expand driverless car-related business.

Developed jointly by Nagoya University, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and others, Autoware provides features essential for self-driving car operations, such as route selection and obstacle identification. Its source code was released for open use in 2015.

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