CSCE 496/896: Robotics
Dr. Carrick Detweiler
109 Schorr Center
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68508
carrick _at_ cse.unl.edu
Lecture: Mon and Weds 3:30-4:20pm in Avery 111
Lab: Fri 3:30-5:20pm in Schorr Center 117A
Office/Lab hours: W,Th 12-1pm 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
This will be a hands-on, lab-based course where you will
implement the algorithms you learn about in class on a small
hovercraft that you will build in lab. You will learn the
fundamentals of robotics, as well as the cutting-edge in robotics
research. Topics covered will include: control, navigation and path
planing, obstacle avoidance, manipulation and grasping, and robotic
vision processing. By the end of the course you will know why robots
are not yet folding our clothes and driving our cars, but you will also
learn what is needed to make these possible in the future.
The hovercraft platform can control a variety of motors, transport
reasonable payloads, and has numerous sensors including range finders
and gyros. You will interface with the embedded system that controls
the hovercraft by using learning to program in ROS (Robot Operating
System: www.ros.org) on a small netbook computer that the
hovercraft caries. Programming will be in either C++ or Python, with
an emphasis on C++. By the end of the course you will have a deep
understanding of the design, programming, and interfacing of robot
systems. This will prepare you for cutting edge careers in industry
Course Website and email
The website for the course is: http://cse.unl.edu/~carrick/courses/2011/496/
This syllabus is subject to change, you will find the most up-to-date
version of the syllabus on the course website, 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
Prerequisites: CSCE236 and CSCE310 or equivalent programming
experience, senior or graduate standing, or instructor permission.
Mastery of: C++ or other high-level languages, embedded systems,
Familiarity with: basic and advanced data structures, GNU/Linux
OSs, software development.
Exposure to: introductory Newtonian physics, probability and
statistics, linear algebra.
G. Dudek and M. Jenkin, Computational Principles of Mobile Robotics, Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition, 2010.
Topics Covered and Outcomes
Topics covered will include: open and closed loop control, reactive
control, localization, navigation, path planning, obstacle avoidance,
dynamics, kinematics, manipulation and grasping, sensing, robot vision
processing, and data fusion, and more! See the course website for a
detailed course schedule.
Mastery of: algorithmic design, implementation, and adaptation to real robots operating in uncertain environments, application development on robots.
Familiarity with: robot design and analysis, robot control, localization and navigation, robot vision techniques.
Assignments and Grading
All assignments are due via email to carrick _at_ cse.unl.edu.
Please include CSCE 496 or CSCE 896 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 before the beginning
of class on the day they are due. Assignment due dates are announced
Your final grade will be composed of a number of components. These
|Percentage ||Assignment |
|15% ||Class and Lab Participation |
|15% ||Homework |
|40% ||Labs |
|30% ||Final Project/Challenge |
There will be at least two homeworks over the course of the semester.
These are individual assignments. It is ok to discuss concepts
behind the problems in the homeworks with classmates, however, you
cannot do them together. If you do discuss problems with classmates
or other people, you must acknowledge this on the assignment (this
will not lead to any grade reduction). As a metric for what level of
discussion is allowed, it is ok to meet and talk over coffee about the
assignment. It is not ok to show someone your solution or to work on
the details of the problems together. In general any discussions
should be limited to discussion and you should not be taking
significant notes on the problems. If in doubt, ask me questions
Homeworks are due via email before the start of class on the day that
they are due. Note that late homeworks will receive a 10 point
deduction per day late.
There will be four labs, each worth 10% of your final grade, during
the semester. Each lab group only needs to submit one lab report.
The lab report should be well written with complete sentences and
paragraphs and be readable on its own. It must contain an
introduction, discussion, conclusion, as well as the answers to
specific questions asked. Supporting materials such as pictures, code
examples, etc. are encouraged.
Each lab group will appoint a group member at the start of each lab
that will be primarily responsible for collecting and organizing the
lab report. Each person must do this for at least one lab during the
semester. Everyone in the group must still contribute fully to doing
and writing the lab, the person in charge of the lab just has the
added responsibility of organizing and submitting the lab writeup. In
addition to the lab writeup, you give a short, graded demonstration of
your working system after handing in your lab report.
Labs are due via email before the start of class on the day that they
are due. Late labs will receive a 10 point deduction for each 24
hours they are late. That means that if you turn it in after class,
instead of before, your group will start with a 90% as the highest
Lab groups will be assigned at the start of the semester and will
remain the same throughout the semester for the labs and final
project. If you are experiencing any problems with the dynamics of
your group, please let me know early so that we can address them
quickly before they get out of hand. Additionally, while typically
everyone in a group will receive the same grade on each lab, I reserve
the right to deduct points if I feel that someone has not contributed
fully to the completion of an assignment.
Details on the final project will be given in class. Overall the
final project is worth 30% of your grade. The breakdown of the
grading for the project is roughly:
The proposal is a short paper (2-4 pages) describing your approach to
the final challenge and includes any additional sensors or actuators
that you would like to add to the hovercraft. The project report is a
final report describing your project and outcome. The presentation
and demo will show your hovercraft and algorithms in action to the
class and the broader UNL community. A short pre-presentation before
the final presentation will also be given to ensure system
functionality before the final presentation. The final project report
and presentation will occur during the final week of class. Further
details on the final project will be given in class.
|Percentage ||Component |
|5% ||Proposal |
|5% ||Pre-Presentation |
|10% ||Presentation and Demo |
|10% ||Project report |
Class and Lab Participation
Participation in class and lab is critical in this course and counts
for 15% of your grade. You are expected to be prepared for class and
lab, do assigned readings, and ask questions during class and lab.
Simply coming to class and lab is not sufficient for obtaining full
marks for participation; you should actively participate in
discussions. There will be self and group evaluations of your lab
team during the semester. If you do not put in the time and effort
and contribute to the success of you lab group you will loose points.
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.
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 an
The exception to the "free" absences is if you are scheduled
to present or give a demonstration. 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.
496 Versus 896
This course is highly integrated and there are only small differences
between the 496 and 896 versions of the course. For 896, the
homeworks will have additional questions that are optional for
students in 496. For labs, students in 496 will receive 3 additional
points on their lab grades.
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
In particular, for this course, do not plagiarize (writing or code)
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.
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 15 Nov 2011, 09:57.