Comp 060 (old 006): Robotics with LEGO®

Spring 2008

Instructor: Henry Fuchs 

209 Sitterson Hall—962-1911

Cell: 919-971-4951

fuchs “at”


Lab Assistants

Chris Barefoot

chrisb87 “at” email . unc. edu


Zack Sheffield

selquest “at” email. unc. edu



Required: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to C (2nd ed), by Greg Perry (ISBN 0672305100)


Recommended for students who have had programming and wish to go on to the next step:

C in a Nutshell, by Peter Prinz and Tony Crawford (ISBN 0596006977)


Class Times  (115 Sitterson Hall)

The scheduled class times are Tuesday and Thursday 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM. Tuesday periods will be our lecture times. Thursday periods will normally be lab times.

Lab Times  (115 and 027 Sitterson Hall)

You will be assigned to one of two groups for lab sessions on Thursdays. A Lab Assistant who has previously taken the class will lead each group.

You will be each given an entire Lego NXT kit to keep with you during the semester. With this kit and your laptop, you’ll be able to do all your homework assignments anywhere. You’ll bring the kit and your laptop to the lab each week to work out any difficulties you’re having and to demonstrate your homework results to the Lab Assistants.



My Goals for Students

1.      You will learn the basics of computers, sensors, and actuators.

2.      You will examine the meaning of intelligence and learning as applied to humans, animals, and machines.

3.      You will improve your communication skills through writing and presentations.

4.      You will learn to program in C (a popular programming language).



During the second half of the semester, teams of two students will research a topic of special interest and deliver a presentation to the class. Possible subjects include:

Š    Intelligence and learning in simple organisms (e.g., snails).

Š    Machine learning (including neural networks)

Š    Turing test for intelligence.

Š    ELIZA and other programs that appear intelligent.

Š    Chess-playing computers as artificial intelligence.

Š    Robots as toys and companions.

Š    Robots as tools.

Š    Robots in space.

Š    Robots in popular culture.

Š    Human intelligence—how it is measured, what it means.

Š    Ethical and cultural implications of artificial intelligence.

Š    Artificial and natural senses.



Your grade will be based on four components:

  1. Labs, lab reports, and a couple quizzes (30%)
  2. Contests around midterm and final (20%)
  3. Presentation (20%)
  4. Class participation and helpfulness (30%)

These percentages may evolve as the semester progresses.


Honor Code


The Honor Code is in effect in this class, as in all others at the University. I am committed to treating Honor Code violations seriously and urge all students to become familiar with its terms.

    I encourage you all to help one another in this class. Some have not had any previous programming experience; others have. You will be rewarded for helping your classmates. I will survey the class near the end of the semester, asking each of you to name the members of the class who were most helpful to you. The helpful people will get extra credit.

   So, how can you help or be helped without violating the honor code? First, do not copy or allow others to copy programs or assignments; each person's work should be his/her own. But one person can explain to another how they solved a particular problem. Second, give credit where it is due. If you discover a solution on the web, include the URL. If someone in the class shows you how to solve a problem, say so. A statement like Joe Goodguy helped me on this assignment by showing me how to... will be sufficient. When in doubt, mention it in your lab report.




This material was initially developed by Professor Gary Bishop for the Fall 2003 offering of this freshman seminar.