CSCE 990: Robotics: Algorithms and Applications
Dr. Carrick Detweiler
109 Schorr Center
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68508
carrick _at_ cse.unl.edu
MWF 10:30-11:20 in Avery 118
3 Credits and applies towards systems track
Office hours: MW 11:30-12:30 and by appointment
Robots play an increasingly important role in our lives, from
assembling our cars and cell phones to vacuuming our rugs and flying
recon missions. To create systems that work in the real world, the
field of robotics requires robust theory and algorithms that are
tightly integrated with hardware that is designed with engineering
expertise. This course explores fundamental algorithms of robotics
and how they are implemented and coupled with real world systems.
Topics covered in this class include motion planning, state
estimation, localization, vision-based navigation, manipulation,
multi-robot systems, underwater robots, flying robots, and humanoid
robots. We will explore these topics through the critical analysis of
classic and contemporary articles in the field of robotics. By
examining algorithms used in real world systems, we will determine
what it takes to go from theory to implementation. In this class,
students will present, discuss, and write analyses of robotics
research. In addition, a semester-long group project will allow
students to further explore areas of interest in robotics. The goal
of this course is for students to gain an understanding of the
challenges and current state of the art in robotics and to improve
critical analysis skills.
Course Website and email
The website for the course is:
You will find the most up-to-date version of the syllabus at that
location, as well as information on readings, assignments, and
projects. Please make sure to check it regularly.
In addition to posting information and assignments on the course
website, I will send information over email to the address you gave me
at the start of the course. I expect that you will check your email
on a daily basis. Please make proper arrangements if you will not be
able to check your email or if your email address changes.
Prerequisites and Requirements
Mathematical maturity, comfort reading and writing journal articles
We will cover a variety of topics in this course including
localization, control, motion planning, vision, manipulation, state
estimation, multi-robot systems, underwater robots, flying robots, and
humanoid robots. Depending on student interest we will adjust the
syllabus to cover areas in more or less detail. If you are
particularly interested in covering a topic, please let me know.
Assignments and Grading
All assignments are due via email to carrick _at_ cse.unl.edu.
Please include CSCE 990 at the beginning of the subject line. I will
respond to you to acknowledge that I received the assignment. If you
do not receive a response from me within 24 hours, assume I did not
receive your assignment and try to contact me again. Unless otherwise
noted, all assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day
they are due. Assignment due dates are announced in class and posted
on the google calendar located on the course website.
Your final grade will be composed of a number of components. These
|Percentage ||Assignment |
|20% ||Class Participation |
|10% ||Article Review |
|20% ||Article Presentation and Write-up|
|40% ||Final Project |
|10% ||Final Project Review|
Participation is critical in this class and counts for 20% of your
grade. You are expected to complete all readings and come prepared
with questions and comments on the articles. Simply coming to class
is not sufficient for obtaining full marks for participation; you
should actively participate in discussions.
We will start each class by going around and having each person give a
comment about the article. The comments may be about an assumption
the article makes or a strength, weakness, or question about the
It is acceptable to use computers to read papers and take notes.
However, I expect that their use will not be a distraction. Texting,
tweeting, facebooking, etc. can wait until after class. Do not use
your cell phone during class. It is obvious and is a distraction not
only for you, but for me and your classmates as well.
You will do three article reviews over the course of the semester: one
of your choice; one for the article you present; and one I will assign
for the review of a classmate's final project.
The first, self-selected review, can be done at any time up until
November 22nd. In this review, you will review one of the articles we
are reading in class. This review is due at the beginning of the
class during which the article is presented. The second, is due 24
hours before the class during which you present an article (see
below). The third review, of one of your peer's final papers is due
Friday, December 3rd at the beginning of class.
Writing detailed and constructive reviews of academic articles is a
crucial part of being a researcher in both academia and industry.
There is no standard format for the review, although it should be
detailed and typically around 4 pages double spaced (this is somewhat
longer than you would submit for an actual article review). It should
include, but by no means be limited to:
Although the articles we are reading have been already been published,
for the purpose of the review pretend that it has not (there is always
room for improvement) and that you have been asked to review the
paper. Remember to give positive feedback that will allow the authors
to improve the article, but do not be afraid to critical.
- A brief summary of the paper and technical approach;
- Discussion of the assumptions made in the paper;
- Questions the paper raises for you and the community;
- Strengths of the paper;
- Constructive feedback (e.g. areas to be expanded or improved);
- Analysis of the related work and its completeness (or lack of);
- Comments on the quality of the organization, writing style, and grammar;
- Would you recommend this article for publication.
Article Presentation and Write-up
In this course you (and possibly a partner) will lead one class in the
discussion and analysis of an article. I will assign presentation
dates in the first week of the course.
In addition to the presentation, you will need to write an article
review (see above for format) for the article you are presenting. If
you are presenting with a partner, each partner is responsible for
writing their own article review. This is due 24 hours before the
start of the class you are leading. I also encourage you to meet with
me to discuss the article ahead of time. Please don't wait till the
last minute to read the article.
You can prepare slides for the presentation or use the board. At the
start of the class each person in the class will be asked to give some
comments about the article (e.g. comment on the strength, weakness,
assumptions, etc. of the article). This can be used as the basis for
discussion, although giving overview of the article at this point is
also useful. In addition, it is often useful to follow up on
references in the paper and present more background than is present in
the paper. Similarly, it is often interesting to look to see if there
are any more recent papers that build on the original paper.
I will make a suggestion as to a paper you can present, however, if
there is an alternative, related, paper you would like the class to
read instead, that is possible as well. Just please make sure to talk
with me at least 3 days in advance to give the class sufficient time
to read the article.
You will be graded on both your presentation and article review
writeup. In addition, the students in the class will fill out
evaluations on your article presentation that I will summarize and use
to aid me in grading.
The final project for this course is to write an article related to
the field of robotics. The final writeup is due Monday, November 22nd
at the beginning of class. This is an opportunity to combine your own
research with what you have learned in this course. This can an
individual or small group project. Project proposals will be due
Monday, October 4th at the beginning of class. More details on the
proposal and project will be discussed in class.
We will use the last two weeks of class to do final project
presentations. You will be graded on your article and presentation.
In addition, you will receive an article review from one of your
Final Project Review
Each student will review one of their classmate's final project
articles. I will assign the project you will review. This will be a
blind review (the author will not know who reviewed it). This should
follow the guidelines of the article review described above. This is
due Friday, December 3rd at the beginning of class.
Students are allowed two absences during the semester. Any absences
beyond this will lead to a reduction in your class participation
grade. There is no exception to this, so it is best to save these
days for times when you are sick and cannot come to class. You do not
need to notify me if you will be absent, although it is appreciated.
Not showing up for class is not an excuse for not turning in a paper
or other assignment.
The exception to the "free" absences is when you are scheduled
to present. If you do not give your presentation on your scheduled
day you will receive a zero for the presentation. An absence for your
presentation may be excused in the case of an illness or family
emergency if acceptable written evidence is given and you notify me as
soon as possible. Even if you are sick or leaving town on short
notice you should be able to have a friend notify me that you will be
missing your presentation. Please do so as soon as possible so that I
can plan accordingly so you do not waste the time of the other
students in the class.
University Writing Center
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Writing Center can provide you with
meaningful support as you write for this class as well as for every
course in which you enroll. Trained peer consultants are available to
talk with you as you plan, draft, and revise your writing. Please
check the Writing Center website (http://www.unl.edu/writing/) for
locations, hours, and information about scheduling appointments.
CSE and UNL Policies
You must abide by the Computer Science and Engineering academic
integrity policy, which can be found here:
In particular, for this course, do not plagiarize and make sure to
properly cite any sources you use. Any cheating or plagiarism will be
reported to the Chair of your department and your Dean, and will result
in an F for the course. This includes working with others without
acknowledging the collaboration. Presenting papers and doing projects
related to your own research or other courses is encouraged, however,
you must obtain approval beforehand.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the instructor
for a confidential discussion of their individual needs for academic
accommodation. It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
to provide flexible and individualized accommodation to students with
documented disabilities that may affect their ability to fully
participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. To
receive accommodation services, students must be registered with the
Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office, 132 Canfield
Administration, 472-3787 voice or TTY.
File translated from
On 22 Aug 2010, 22:16.