Introduction to Robotics (MC375.01)
Spring 2001

Professor: Elizabeth Sklar

The class home page and associated links are the primary source of information for the class, outside of lectures.

Refer to the on-line syllabus which will be continuously updated concerning assignment due dates, exams, lecture topics and reading materials.

Refer to the on-line list of references which contains an updated list of the course reading materials and sources. Please note that most of these readings will be contained in a coursepack, which hopefully will be available at the bookstore in the near future.

Monday and Wednesday, 3pm-4.15pm, Fulton 453

This course looks at robotics from several aspects: technically, historically and socially. Part of the course will be spent reading and discussing classic material that relates to robots -- including science fiction, psychology, cognitive science and education. Part of the course will take a hands-on approach to introducing the basic concepts in robotics, focusing on autonomous mobile robots. We will examine early robots as well as current state-of-the-art research, applications and simulators. One day per week will be lecture and discussion; the other day will be lab experiments. In the labs, students will work in teams to build and test increasingly more complex LEGO-based mobile robots. One creative presentation and two contests will take place during the semester.

The course will use the robot kits to cover and illustrate the integration of sensors and effectors and the key approaches to mobile robot control (reactive, behavior-based, and hybrid). If time permits, we will briefly discuss robot learning and multi-robot systems. If we are lucky, several guest presenters will describe their own state-of-the-art robotics research.

You should know how to write simple programs -- i.e., you should have taken at least Computer Science I. Though not required, it is recommended you received an A in CS I or at least that you feel extremely comfortable writing programs. Knowledge of UNIX (Linux) is helpful, but not required.

This is a project based course. The assessment will be as follows:

  • robot contest I: 10%
  • robot contest II: 10%
  • two contest reports: 10% each
  • research paper (20%) and oral presentation (10%): 30%
  • midterm exam: 10%
  • final exam: 20%
    The robot contests will be team efforts. The contest reports will be written up individually. The research paper will be done individually, and each student will give a short oral presentation in class describing their research area. Of course, the exams will be done individually.