CSCE 990: Robotics Today
Fall 2018


Dr. Carrick Detweiler
Computer Science and Engineering
220 Schorr Center
carrick _at_
Office Hours by scheduling a time yourself
and by email appointment.

Course Information

Mon, Weds, Fri 2:30-3:20pm in Avery 110

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 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 safety and sensing for robots operating in real world 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 Schedule

Below is an approximate schedule of course topics and due dates. These are subject to change, assignments will be announced in class. Readings will be added as the semester progresses, so make sure to check back often.

Most articles are available from on campus by clicking on the links below. If this does not work (or you are off campus), try google, using the UNL VPN or the UNL library website. If you are still unable to download the article, contact a classmate or me for a copy.
Week Readings Tentative Due Dates
Week 1, Aug 20th Monday: Course Intro
Wednesday: No Class
K.-C. Ma, L. Liu, H. K. Heidarsson, and G. S. Sukhatme, Data-driven learning and planning for environmental sampling, Journal of Field Robotics, vol. 35, no. 5, pp. 643-661, Aug. 2018.
Course Survey Due Tues
Week 2, Aug 27th Monday:
How to Read a Scientific Article. Rice University, 2004. Online.
S. Keshav. How to Read a Paper. Online.
P. Oettershagen, T. Stastny, T. Hinzmann, K. Rudin, T. Mantel, A. Melzer, B. Wawrzacz, G. Hitz, and R. Siegwart, Robotic technologies for solar-powered UAVs: Fully autonomous updraft-aware aerial sensing for multiday search-and-rescue missions, Journal of Field Robotics, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 612-640, Jun. 2018.
N. Sunderhauf, O. Brock, W. Scheirer, R. Hadsell, D. Fox, J. Leitner, B. Upcroft, P. Abbeel, W. Burgard, M. Milford, and P. Corke, The limits and potentials of deep learning for robotics, The International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 37, no. 4-5, pp. 405-420, Apr. 2018.
Week 3, Sept 3rd Monday: No Class (Labor Day)
[1] R. A. Day, "How to write a scientific paper," ASM News, vol. 42, pp. 486-494, 1975.
[2] English Communication for Scientists: Writing Scientific Papers
Friday: No Class CSCE 50th Anniversary Celebration
Week 4, Sept 10th Monday:
A. Bircher, M. Kamel, K. Alexis, H. Oleynikova, and R. Siegwart, Receding horizon path planning for 3D exploration and surface inspection, Auton Robot, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 291-306, Feb. 2018.
H. M. La, N. Gucunski, K. Dana, and S.-H. Kee, Development of an autonomous bridge deck inspection robotic system, Journal of Field Robotics, vol. 34, no. 8, pp. 1489-1504, Dec. 2017.
Friday: No Class
Finalize Project Groups (Monday)
Week 5, Sept 17th Monday: (Ajay)
J. Han, J. Park, T. Kim, and J. Kim, Precision navigation and mapping under bridges with an unmanned surface vehicle, Auton Robot, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 349-362, Apr. 2015.
Heemels, W. P. M. H., et al. Stability analysis and controller synthesis for hybrid dynamical systems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 368.1930 (2010): 4937-4960.
Roy, Pritam, Paulo Tabuada, and Rupak Majumdar. Pessoa 2.0: a controller synthesis tool for cyber-physical systems. Proceedings of the 14th international conference on Hybrid systems: computation and control. ACM, 2011.
Develop Project Proposal
Schedule a 30 group meeting Weds-Fri to discuss possible projects.
Week 6, Sept 24th Monday:
Discuss project ideas in groups (bring draft of proposal!).
Wednesday: (Chandima)
DeCastro, Jonathan A., and Hadas Kress-Gazit. Synthesis of nonlinear continuous controllers for verifiably correct high-level, reactive behaviors. The International Journal of Robotics Research 34.3 (2015): 378-394.
Friday: Proposal Due!
Ingrand, Felix, and Malik Ghallab. Deliberation for autonomous robots: A survey. Artificial Intelligence 247 (2017): 10-44.
Final Project Proposal Due
Week 7, Oct 1st Monday:
C. Goerzen, Z. Kong, and B. Mettler, A survey of motion planning algorithms from the perspective of autonomous UAV guidance, Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems, vol. 57, no. 1–4, pp. 65–100, 2010.
Wednesday: (Daniel)
Blankenburg, Janelle, et al. A distributed control architecture for collaborative multi-robot task allocation. Humanoid Robotics (Humanoids), 2017 IEEE-RAS 17th International Conference on. IEEE, 2017.
Friday: No Class
Week 8, Oct 8th Switching to longer two day a week classes.
Ding, Xuchu, et al. Optimal control of Markov decision processes with linear temporal logic constraints. IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control 59.5 (2014): 1244-1257.
Feyzabadi, Seyedshams, and Stefano Carpin. Risk-aware path planning using hirerachical constrained markov decision processes. Automation Science and Engineering (CASE), 2014 IEEE International Conference on. IEEE, 2014.
Friday: No Class
Week 9, Oct 15th
Fall Break Mon-Tues
Monday: No Class
Wednesday: Present project status report to class (10 minutes on RW)
Friday: (Bill)
Alvaro Caballero, Alejandro Suarez, Fran Real, Victor M. Vega1, Manuel Bejar, Angel Rodriguez-Castano, and Anibal Ollero. First Experimental Results on Motion Planning for Transportation in Aerial Long-Reach Manipulators with Two Arms. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2018.
Final Project Status Reports
Week 10, Oct 22nd Monday:
M. G. Muller, F. Steidle, M. J. Schuster, P. Lutz, M. Maier, S. Stoneman, T. Tomic, and W. Sturzl. Robust Visual-Inertial State Estimation with Multiple Odometries and Efficient Mapping on an MAV with Ultra-Wide FOV Stereo Vision. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2018.
Wednesday: No Class
Friday: (Ashraful)
Ryo Miyazaki, Rui Jiang, Hannibal Paul, Koji Ono and Kazuhiro Shimonomura. Airborne Docking for Multi-Rotor Aerial Manipulations. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2018.
Week 11, Oct 29rd Monday: (Minal)
L. Johannsmeier and S. Haddadin, A Hierarchical Human-Robot Interaction-Planning Framework for Task Allocation in Collaborative Industrial Assembly Processes, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 41-48, Jan. 2017.
Wednesday (Happy Halloween): No Class
Friday: (Adam)
P. Misra, A. A. Kumar, P. Mohapatra, and P. Balamuralidhar, DroneEARS: Robust Acoustic Source Localization with Aerial Drones, in 2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2018, pp. 80-85.
Week 12, Nov 5th Monday: Final Project Status Reports
Wednesday: (Eleanor)
C. Finn, X. Y. Tan, Y. Duan, T. Darrell, S. Levine, and P. Abbeel, Deep spatial autoencoders for visuomotor learning, in 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2016, pp. 512-519.
Friday: No Class
Final Project Status Reports
Week 13, Nov 12th Monday:
J. Tan, T. Zhang, E. Coumans, A. Iscen, Y. Bai, D. Hafner, S. Bohez, and V. Vanhoucke, Sim-to-Real: Learning Agile Locomotion For Quadruped Robots, Apr. 2018 [Online]
Wednesday: No Class
Friday: How to give a talk (no reading)
All Article Reviews Due (Monday)
Week 14, Nov 19
Thanksgiving Weds-Fri
Monday: Final Project Writeup Due
Wednesday: No Class
Friday: No Class
Final Project Writeup Due (Monday)
Week 15, Nov 26th Monday:
Final Project Videos Due (Mon)
Final Project Article Reviews Due (Weds)
Week 16, Dec 3rd Monday:
Project Presentations (M,W,F) and Final Writeup Due (Fri)