CSCE 496/896: Robotics
Fall 2011


Dr. Carrick Detweiler
Computer Science and Engineering
109 Schorr Center
carrick _at_

Course Information

Lecture: Mon and Weds 3:30-4:20pm in Avery 111
Lab: Fri 3:30-5:20pm 2:30-4:20pm in Schorr Center 117A

Office/Lab Hours: 109 or 117A Schorr Center
W,Th 12-1pm and by appointment

For detailed information on this course please see the course syllabus in html or pdf format.

Course Description

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 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; 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 and research.


See the course schedule below for reading assignments and the general topics covered in the course. Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due via email to me before the start of class on the due date.

Assignment Due Date
Course Survey Tuesday, Aug. 23rd, 5pm
Lab 1 (pdf,html*,code): Hovercraft Construction and ROS Fri, Sept. 16 (checkpoint Fri, Sept. 9)
Lab 2 (pdf,html*): PID, Range Finders, and Tangent Bug Fri, Oct. 7 Fri, Oct. 14
Lab 3 (pdf,html*,code): Visual Servoing, Localization, and Navigation Fri, Nov. 4, (Gripper Design Due Oct. 28)
HW 1 (pdf) Mon, Nov. 14
Lab 4/Final Challenge (pdf,html*,hoverboard update,ball detector): Ball Detecting and Retrieval Fri, Dec. 9, (Checkpoint Fri, Nov. 18)

*Note html versions of assignments may lack some formatting or pictures found in the pdf version.

Course Books

G. Dudek and M. Jenkin, Computational Principles of Mobile Robotics, Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition, 2010.

Course Schedule

Below is an approximate schedule of course topics. These are subject to change, assignments will be announced in class.

Week Topics Reading
Week 1, Aug 22 Introduction, Hovercraft
Week 2, Aug 29 Fundamental Problems in Robotics, ROS CPMR 2.1-2.6
Week 3, Sept 5
ROS tutorials
Week 4, Sept 12 ROS, Sensors CPMR 4.1-4.8
Week 5, Sept 19 PID Control, Configuration Space CPMR 6.1-6.2
Week 6, Sept 26 Reactive Control, Motion Planning CPMR 6.3
Week 7, Oct 3 Computer Vision, Visual Servo CPMR 5.1-5.4
Week 8, Oct 10 Stereo Vision, Feature and Landmark Detection CPMR 5.5-5.8
Week 9, Oct 17
Robot Localization CPMR 8.1-8.7
Week 10, Oct 24 Robot Design, Kinematics TBD
Week 11, Oct 31 Grasping TBD
Week 12, Nov 7 Data Fusion (Kalman, Markov, Monte Carlo Techniques) CPMR 4.9
Week 13, Nov 14 Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) CPMR 9.1-9.4
Week 14, Nov 21
Final Project Topics
Week 15, Nov 28 Final Project Topics
Week 16, Dec 5 Final Project Topics

Last modified: Fri Nov 4 11:57:29 CDT 2011