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Introduction to Robotics

Course Description

This is an graduate / undergraduate-senior level course intended to introduce students to Robotics. The course covers major fundamental aspects of robotics, including spatial motion of rigid bodies, kinematics and instantaneous kinematics, motion planning, statics and dynamics, control of robotic systems, robotic vision, nonholonomic systems, etc. In addition, introductory lectures on sensing and actuation technologies and advanced robotics topics will also be given in class.

By the end of this course, students should be able to independently present a comprehensive analysis for an existing robotic system, including the geometry, kinematics, differential kinematics, dynamics, control and motion planning. This course prepares students for their future pursuit in robotics and many other related disciplines.


The prerequisites for this course include rigid-body mechanics and mathematics at a junior level. There will be an extensive use of methods from linear algebra, calculus, differential equations, etc. These topics will be reviewed and covered in class, but previous exposure to these topics is helpful. VM240 and VM360 are preferred prerequisites, not mandatory.

MATLAB as a mathematical and computational tool will be intensively used for simulations in homework sets and course projects (MATHEMATICA or MAPLE are acceptable too). Necessary programming techniques using MATLAB will also be covered in class or by handouts.


Textbooks are not mandatory. All the materials covered in this course will be available to the students as class handouts. However, it is helpful to refer to the following books for some omitted derivations.

  • Bruno Siciliano, Lorenzo Sciavicco, Luigi Villani, Giuseppe Oriolo, Robotics: Modeling, Planning and Control, Springer; 1st ed, Dec 2008
  • Mark W. Spong, Seth Hutchinson, M. Vidyasagar, Robot Modeling and Control, Johns Wiley & Sons, 2005
  • John J. Craig, Introduction to Robotics: Mechanics and Control, Prentice Hall; 3rd ed, Aug 2004

Course Components

There will be homework assignments, a closed-book in-class midterm, a group project and an open-book in-class final exam. For term projects, students will be asked to reproduce simulations of published papers. Selected demos can be viewed as follows.

Ocular Surgery: Radial Keratotomy Three-Finger Grasping and Manipulation Ocular Surgery: Eyeball Manipulation
VM567 project1.gif VM567 project2.gif VM567 project3.gif
A Dexterous Ball Joint Wrist Double Screwed Drive Mechanisms on a Stanford Manipulator
VM567 project4.gif VM567 project5.gif
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