Introduction to Robotics

Spring 2001
Term Project

due dates:
proposal (1%) by Monday 12 March 2001
presentation (9%) by Monday 23 April 2001
paper (20%) by Monday 30 April 2001
Early submissions will be accepted and greatly appreciated.

The goal of the term project is to examine in depth one robotics topic which we have touched on in class, or maybe not discussed at all. The project comprises the largest single component of your semester grade (30% in total). It consists of a brief proposal, worth 1%, a research paper, worth 20%, and an oral presentation, worth 9%.

Your term project must be done alone and must be original. All sources of information must be properly cited.


Here are some suggested broad areas from which to select a research topic.

These are just suggestions -- you are not restricted to this list! However, you must clear your topic with me before you do your report. No two people will be allowed to focus on the same subject, though multiple people may explore the same broad area. You must submit a brief proposal outlining your focus before you begin on the report (see below).

Proposal. (1%)

Before you begin, write a short proposal outlining what you plan to do. The proposal must be submitted to me by Monday 12 March. It should be no longer than one page. It should describe the broad area you have selected and detail your focus within that area. You should mention the source material with which you plan to begin your research.

Research paper. (20%)

The paper must consist of the following:

The paper should be approximately 10 pages in length, not counting abstract and bibliography. Please use a 12-point font. Please use standard English and spell-check your paper. Proofread carefully! Grammatical and spelling errors can substantially detract from the content of a paper.

This is a research paper, so you must use multiple sources and demonstrate that you have assimilated the information from all of the sources and learned something from what you've read. Put some thought into it -- don't just spit back other people's words. Explain why the topic is interesting to you and to other researchers. Explain why the topic is relevant in the context of the course and in the world today.

If you choose a "lighter" topic (one of the last 3 on the list above), you should concentrate on the more technical aspects of the topic. This is a course in computer science, not literature. If you choose robots in films, don't write about acting skills; write about the technical difficulties that were overcome to make R2D2 operate.

You may end the report with either a "conclusion" or "discussion" section. Sometimes it is hard to make real conclusions, especially when you are reporting on work-in-progress. In this case, it is fine to end with a discussion instead, perhaps outlining contentious issues or future directions.

Please submit a hardcopy of your paper by the due date (Monday 30 April) and also e-mail me an electronic copy. MS-Word format preferred (I can't believe I just wrote that ;).

Oral presentation. (9%)

Your oral presentation will be 10 minutes long. You should plan to talk for about 8 minutes and leave 2 minutes at the end for questions. You may use any media aids that are available in the classroom (WinNT computer with PowerPoint and Netscape, overhead transparencies, video, blackboard). I strongly suggest that you make use of at least one of these. Talking in front of a group with no visual aids generally puts your audience to sleep :).

Please provide me with a hardcopy of any slides you use.

Sign up for a date to give your presentation on one of the following days: Wed 21 March, Mon 26 March, Wed 28 March, Mon 9 April, Wed 11 April, Wed 18 April or Mon 23 April.