CSCE 990: Robotics Today
Dr. Carrick Detweiler
220 Schorr Center
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68508
carrick _at_ cse.unl.edu
Tues and Thurs 2:00-3:15pm in Avery 109
Instructor office hours: Thursday 3:15-4:15 (220 Schorr),
by scheduling a time yourself at http://goo.gl/dFho2 (google account required),
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 The
focus of the course will be on field robotics, which deals with robots
operating in unstructured and dynamic environments. Topics covered in
this class include motion planning, state estimation, localization,
vision-based navigation, manipulation, multi-robot systems, flying
robots, sensors, and mechanical design. We will explore these topics
through the critical analysis of classic and contemporary articles in
the field of robotics. By examining algorithms and systems used in
the real world, 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:
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
Mathematical maturity, comfort reading and writing journal articles
No textbook, readings will be available as links to online journals.
We will cover a variety of topics in this course including
localization, control, motion planning, vision, manipulation,
multi-robot systems, flying robots, sensors, and mechanical design.
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. Assignments and
due dates will be announced in class. Unless otherwise noted, all
assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day they are due.
Your final grade will be composed of a number of components. These
|Percentage ||Assignment |
|20% ||Class Participation |
|20% ||Article Reviews |
|20% ||Article Presentation and Write-up|
|30% ||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 people 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 five article reviews over the course of the semester: two
of your choice; one for the article you present; and two
reviews of classmates' final projects.
The first two, self-selected reviews, can be done at any time up until
November 15th. For each of these reviews, you will review one of the
articles we are reading in class. You are encouraged to do these
early in the semester. Do not leave them until the last days of
class. The review is due at the beginning of the class during which
the article is presented. The third, is due 24 hours before the class
during which you present an article (see below). The final review, of
two of your peers' final papers is due Thursday, November 29th 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 most article reviews). 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 4 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 Tuesday, November
20th at the start 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
early in the semester and you will be working on your project
throughout the semester. There will also be periodic project status
reports. More details on the proposal and project will be discussed
We will use the last week of class to do final project
presentations. You will be graded on your article and presentation.
In addition, you will receive an article reviews from your
classmates before your presentation.
Final Project Review
Each student will review two of their classmates' 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 Thursday, November 29th at the start 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 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.
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
All students enrolled in any computer science course is bound by the
Computer Science and Engineering academic integrity policy:
You are expected to read, understand, and follow this policy.
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.
The CSE Department has an anonymous suggestion box:
that you may use to voice your concerns about any problems in the
course or department if you do not wish to be identified.
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 21 Aug 2012, 10:39.