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COMP.4500 Mobile Robotics I Spring 2017

Prof. Fred Martin, Mon/Wed/Fri 11a – 11:50a, Olsen 219 (lecture) and Olsen 302 (lab)

Consider this syllabus as a contract between the professor (me) and the student (you).
You are responsible for understanding everything here.
Ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

Catalog Description

An introduction to robotics, including laboratory. In the lab, students build and program robots. Topics include sensors, locomotion, deliberative, reactive, and hybrid control architectures, computer vision, application domains, and current research.

In this course, you will learn about robotics, with a focus on autonomous mobile robots, through a series of lectures and labs. In the labs, you will build and program your own robots in teams. After the initial set of labs, you will design, build and program a robot for a term project. A public demonstration of the projects will be held at the end of the term.

Course Outcomes

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Work in teams to design, build, program, and test robot systems for a variety of tasks (ABET 3b, 3c, 3d, 3i).
  2. Identify and utilize the sensors and programming strategies needed to solve problems in robotics (ABET 3a, 3b, 3i).
  3. Understand open problems in robotics and ways that such problems could be solved (ABET 3b, 3h).
  4. Demonstrate and describe their work in a public setting (ABET 3f).
  5. Identify and discuss ethical issues in the area of robotics and society (ABET 3e, 3g).


There is no textbook for the course. Readings will be distributed in class. Many will not be available on the course web site owing to copyright issues. If you miss a class, you are responsible for getting a copy of the handout from a classmate or from me during office hours.


Assignments and labs40%
Midterm exam20%

Attendance Policy

Regular attendance is required in both lecture and laboratory. Attendance will be taken by the instructor daily.

  • There is no penalty for missing 0 to 4 class meetings.
  • Missing more than 5 to 9 class sessions will result in a whole-letter grade deduction.
  • Missing 10 to 14 class sessions will result in two whole-letter grade deductions.
  • Missing 15 or more meetings will result in a grade of "F."

Being late to class when roll is taken counts as half of a missed class.

If you need to miss class, it is a courtesy to notify the instructor in advance and I would appreciate that. However, there are no “excused absences”—these are subsumed by the generous no-penalty band.

Exceptions will be made only in the case of personal or medical emergency.

Collaboration Policy

Labs will be done in groups of two students each. You may choose your own partners, but I reserve the right to regroup people as the term progresses. For the labs, I expect that each person will do his or her own equal share of the work. To learn, you’ll need to actually build and program the robots, not watch another person do it.

You should write your own assignments as well as any written components of the labs. You may discuss the questions with your classmates, but you must write them up individually.

The midterm will be done individually.

Plagiarism is a significant act of academic misconduct. You must author all of your own code (in your groups) and all of your own writing. See my guidance on How to Cite when preparing written laboratory reports and your final paper. Submissions may be checked using Any material turned in with plagiarized material will automatically receive a grade of zero; more severe sanctions may also be applied.

See Academic Misconduct Subject to Disciplinary Action.


In the lab, you’ll be building and programming robots. We will be using the CBC robot controller. Our robot bases will be built out of LEGO components (and anything else you’d like). Each two person team will be given a robot kit with the processing boards, sensors, and motors for use during the term; the lab contains large bins of LEGO components as well as a variety of other parts such as Vex and K’Nex.


The lab is in Olsen 302.

Each group will have their own area with a computer on it for building and programming their robots.

When you are not working in the lab, you must put your robot and parts in the box provided to you and then put the box on the storage rack.

We will be sharing the room with the UML Robotics Club (which you are welcome to join!). So your desks must be available for others' use when you are not there.

The lab’s door has an ID lock, so you will have 24 hour access (ID access should be live by Friday 1/20).

While some time in class is set aside for working on your robot, you should expect to spend additional time in the lab to work on your labs and project.

Please keep your workspace and the lab neat. Do not leave trash lying around, on tables or the floor. You may eat in the lab, but this policy will be changed if people do not clean up after themselves.

Undergraduate Project Sequence

For Computer Science majors, COMP.4500 Mobile Robotics I can be grouped with any of:

  • COMP.4510 Mobile Robotics II (to be offered Fall 2017; Fall 2019; etc.)
  • COMP.4200 Artificial Intelligence (to be offered Fall 2018; Fall 2020; etc.)
  • Machine Learning

Discussion Group / E-Mail List

We will use Google Groups for class conversation and announcements. Please request to join the group at!forum/uml-mr1-spr17.


This course was designed by Prof. Holly Yanco.