University launches flying car course, no pilots needed

Australian software engineers will be invited to level up their ambitions with the launch of a course in flying cars.

Melbourne based RMIT partnered with Udacity to launch a ā€œnano degreeā€ in the next-generation transport technology on Tuesday in an expansion of its self-driving car courses.

The launch comes amid predictions the market for flying taxis could be worth $2.3 trillion by 2040, with aircraft expected to arrive in Australian cities as early as 2026.

The new RMIT course, called Flying Car and Autonomous Flight Engineer, is designed to be completed over four months and teach engineers skills including 3D robot motion control and quad-rotor dynamics.

RMIT Online chief executive Nic Cola told AAP the course would give working software engineers the skills to enter a market with huge potential before it took off.

ā€œWeā€™re really leaning into the future skills that Australians will need, particular software engineers going forward, and what options are available to them,ā€ Mr Cola said.

ā€œWe know thereā€™s a lot of investment going into that space in Australia and some good providers in that space.ā€

The $2000 course, which will earn students a Udacity ā€œnanodegreeā€ and a certificate and credit from RMIT, comes five years after Udacity and RMIT launched a course in autonomous vehicles.

US investment firm Morgan Stanley predicted the market for flying taxis, also known as urban air mobility, would be worth $2.3 trillion by 2040 but could be valued as high as $4.4 trillion.

Flying cars made headlines in Australia in 2019 when Uber announced plans to launch flying rides in Melbourne by 2023, but later sold its stake in the market in 2020.

Other companies have stepped forward to embrace the technology, however, with Sydney Seaplanes promising flights around the city and Nautilus Aviation planning flights over Queenslandā€™s Great Barrier Reef in vertical take-off-and-landing (VTOL) craft as soon as 2026.

Melbourne-based Pegasus International also showed off a VTOL aircraft at Sydneyā€™s Avalon Air Show this year that was designed for use by police officers.

Aeronautical engineer Matus Cvengros, who trained in Sweden and Australia and works at Sydney-based urban air mobility firm AMSL Aero, said training opportunities were vital to support the burgeoning industry.

ā€œI believe a course focused on advanced air mobility can empower students to do the first steps, propelling Australiaā€™s aerospace industry forward,ā€ he said.

ā€œA strong foundation can give you an edge.ā€

Three additional courses launched by RMIT Online on Tuesday include ethical artificial intelligence, ethical hacking, and deep learning, which Mr Cola said were evolving quickly and would deliver significant job opportunities.

ā€œIf you look at the explosion of (artificial intelligence), a lot of those jobs didnā€™t exist three years ago or two years ago,ā€ he said.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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