COMP 790-099: Robotics

Fall 2010

Time: Tuesdays, Thursdays 2:00pm - 3:15pm

Location: SN 115

Instructor: Prof. Ron Alterovitz

Office hours: Thursdays 3:15pm - 4:30pm or by appointment, 223 Sitterson Hall


Robots are having a significant impact on our daily lives, from medicine to transportation to personal home assistance. Creating robotic systems raises a unique combination of questions in algorithm design, computational geometry, control theory, and systems engineering. This course will provide an overview of robotics with an emphasis on the computational and algorithmic aspects.

The course will begin by introducing the fundamentals of robotics systems and algorithms and then lead to discussions on current research and applications. The topics to be covered, which may be modified based on the interests of enrolled students, include:

Who should enroll: Students with interests in robotics, motion planning algorithms, graphics, and computational geometry, as well as application areas such as those listed above. Students from Computer Science as well as other departments are welcome. For students in Computer Science, the course project report could serve as a basis for the MS Program Product requirement and/or the department technical writing requirement.

Credits: Students can register for either 1 or 3 credits. Students who register for 1 credit will be required to participate in class discussions and present 2 papers. Students who register for 3 credits will complete a project of their choice as well as a paper presentation and assignments as described below.

Grading: For 3 credits: 40% course project, 40% paper presentation/assignments, 20% participation. Each student will select the topic of his/her course project, orally present background material on the project topic, and write a final report. Each student will also complete a pair of written/programming assignments and present one paper of his or her choice. For 1 credit: 60% paper presentations, 40% participation.

Prerequisites: Undergraduate level calculus, linear algebra, data structures, algorithms, and proficiency in programming (Java, Matlab, C, C++, python, or another language with permission of the instructor). Prior coursework in robotics, motion planning, or graphics is not required. Undergraduates and students from outside Computer Science who are unsure if they meet the prerequisites should contact the instructor.

Textbook: There is no textbook for this course. Course notes, in-class handouts, and links to relevant papers will be provided.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change)

Date Topics Details
August 24 What is Robotics?
August 26 Robot Motion
August 31 Robot Motion and Configurations
September 2 Introduction to Configuration Space
September 7 Computing Configuration Spaces
September 9 Path Planning for a Point Robot
September 14 Sampling-based Motion Planning
September 16 Probabilistic Roadmaps Paper presentation selection due
September 21 Improving PRMs Assignment 1 posted
September 23 Single-query Motion Planning
September 28 Biologically-inspired robot motion
Yusuf Simonson: Robotic insects
Jared Heinly: Sand-swimming robot
September 30 Course Project Requirements/Ideas
Optimal path planning
Elizabeth Cavazos: Informative path planning
October 5 Optimal path planning and Multi-robot planning
Eric Boren: Optimal incremental planning
Zheng Feng: Real-time multi-agent navigation
Assignment 1 due
October 7 Sensing
October 12 Sense, Plan, Move: Closing the Loop Project proposal due
October 14 Markov Decision Processes
October 19 Markov Decision Processes (continued)
October 21 Fall break
October 26 Solving Markov Decision Processes
October 28 Planning with uncertainty
Tianren Wang: Beleif roadmaps
Anant Pradhan: Task allocation under uncertainty
November 2 Kinematics and Jacobians Progress report 1 due
November 4 Apprenticeship learning
Joseph Tighe: Helicopter flight
Chad Spensky: Quadruped locomotion
Assignment 2 posted
November 9 Handling complex dynamics
Belinda Kerchmar: Learning surgical tasks
Alexander Jackson: Autonomous driving
November 11 Learning new skills
Jeff Ichnowski: Learning biped locomotion
Wade Gobel: Adjusting to new situations
November 16 Medical robotics
Luis Torres: Precurved-tube continuum robots
Jinghua Fu: MRI-guided microrobots
Progress report 2 due
Send by e-mail with ranked list of final presentation dates 12/7, 12/2, 11/30, and 11/23 (optional)
November 18 Assistive robotics
Anya Derbakova: Cloth folding
Final project report guidelines and Course review
Assignment 2 due
November 23 Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (guest lecture)
Final project presentations:
Joe Tighe, Elizabeth Cavazos
November 25 Thanksgiving holiday
November 30 Final project presentations:
Eric Boren, Yusuf Simonson, Tianren Wang, Alex Jackson
Progress report 3 due
December 2 Final project presentations:
Jared Heinly, Luis Torres, Anya Derbakova, Feng Zheng
December 7 Final project presentations:
Chad Spensky, Jinghua Fu, Belinda Kerhmar, Anant Pradhan, Wade Gobel
December 16 Final project due at noon By noon, send an e-mail containing your report and code, and a separate e-mail with no attachments saying that you submitted the project. For the report, use IEEE template (not for Magnetics/ Photonics)

Visualizing C-spaces

Recent Papers

Motion planning: optimization and completeness

Motion planning under uncertainty

Robot learning

Robot systems

Relevant Textbooks

There is no textbook for this course. Below are standard textbooks in the field that you may find useful or interesting.

Advice on Presentations