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91.450 Robotics I Fall 2005

Prof. Fred G. Martin
Olsen 208 (office) x1964
Olsen 306 (lab) x2705

Monday, 1:30 – 3:30 pm, OS 306 (lab)
Friday, 1:30 – 2:20 pm, OS 415 (lecture)

Office Hours
Monday 4:30 – 5:30 pm, OS 306 (Martin)
Wednesday 11:30 – 12:30 pm, OS 208 or OS 415(Martin)
Thursday 3:00 – 4:00 pm, OS 208 (Martin)

Web Site

Discussion Board
The class will use the ikonboard system for web-based threaded discussions of lectures, assignments, and other course-related material. All students are expected to create an account for themselves on the discussion board, and use it when appropriate. Before sending me a private email, please consider posting your question to the discussion board. Look for the link to the course board at the top of any course web page, in the pink resources menu.

We will use two textbooks, Robotic Explorations: A Hands-On Introduction to Engineering, (C) 2001 by Fred G. Martin, ISBN 0130895687, Prentice-Hall, and Behavior-Based Robotics, 3rd edition, (C) 2000 by Ronald C. Arkin, ISBN 0-262-01165-4, MIT Press.

(Click on each book’s cover image to go to its respective web site.)

Course Description
We will learn about mobile robots by building them. The course will make use of the LEGO Technics (R) construction system and the Handy Board robotics controller. In a series of labs, you will build and program a mobile robot. In the middle portion of the semester, a competitive robot contest event will be run. In the latter portion of the semester, students will design and implement a robotic system of their own conception.

Midway through the semester, we will receive a new controller board design based on the Analog Devices BlackFin 537 processor. This is a 32-bit, 600 MHz DSP processor. The boards will include 64 MB of flash and 64 MB of RAM and will be capable of running ucLinux. They will work with Analog's Visual DSP++ Studio, and National Instrument's LabVIEW Embedded programming environments. Also, there will be an inexpensive CMOS camera matched with the board, and we will have the opportunity to write vision processing code.

Invention Database
Throughout the semester, we will participate in a beta-test of the web-based Invention Database. The site is a community-built database of resource for inventors in general and roboticists in particular. The system is based on a thesis project of Michael Rosenblatt, who recently graduated from the MIT Media Lab, and will become a product of his startup, invention atelier.

The Invention Database URL is http://www.inventiondb.com. Each class member will receive a personal login on the system. As part of lab write-up and project documentation activities, directions will be given for creating entries (known as “cubes”) on the system.

Project Sequence
This course together with Robotics II in the spring is a project sequence.

Most work will be done in labs, which are due weekly. Here is the sequence of topics and projects:

  • Lab 1: Introduction to the Handy Board. This lab will introduce work with the Handy Board, a Motorola 68HC11-based robotics controller that runs Interactive C. Also, in this lab you will build the first robot for class use, called the HandyBug.

  • Lab 2: Introduction to Robot Programming. In this lab, we will program the Handy Bug to avoid obstacles by backing up and turning when one of the bump sensors is hit. Then we will modify the Handy Bug to include a light sensor so that it can follow a black line.

  • Lab 3: Braitenberg Vehicles, Emergence, Meta-Sensing and Randomness. In this lab, we will learn about Valentino Braitenberg's ideas of evolving robots with wired programs, and other topics in biologically-inspired robot control.

  • Lab 4: Wall-Following. In this lab, we will use a distance sensor and build a closed-loop feedback control to track the wall.

  • Lab 5: Shaft Encoders and Gears. In this lab, we will continue the study of closed-loop control by employing shaft encoders. Also, we will focus on geartrain design and performance evaluation.

  • Lab 6: Sonar Sensor and Servo Motors. In this lab, we will use the sonar sensor and a servo motor to create a robot that drives towards open space.

  • Robot Contest: Egg Hunt. We will run a robot contest based on Rich Drushel's “Egg Hunt” design (see the CWRU LEGO 375/475 course web site). We will have a “mock contest” in lab and then a public contest.

  • Student Projects. The last portion of the course is for open robotic project designs. These do not have to be mobile robots – any sort of project that involves sensing, control, and action is welcome. I am particularly interested in projects that directly involve human interaction with robotic system.


Midterm: Fri, Oct 14, in class

Homework and Labs 25%
Midterm Exam 25%
Contest and Writeup 25%
Final Project and Writeup 25%

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 must actually build and program the robots – not watch another person do it.

Homework assignments should be written up by yourself. You may discuss the questions with your classmates, but you must write them up individually.

Exams are also to be an individual proposition.

Students will work in pairs with with robot building kits provided in lab. All robot work will be done in lab; the robot kits are not to leave campus.

The lab is in Olsen 306. The door has an ID lock, so you will have 24 hour access to the lab via your UML ID. You must enter with your ID.

Each group will have their own workbench with a computer for building and programming their robots. This area will occasionally be shared with other people, so it is important to keep your workspace and the lab neat.

Food policy – food is permitted with the condition that all food must be cleaned up immediately at end of the work session in which it was consumed. Only bottled drinks with caps are permitted—no cans of soda. Violations will result in loss of food privileges. We have rodents in this building, so I have little tolerance for food mess.

Last modified: Wednesday, 14-Sep-2005 12:47:30 EDT by fred_martin@uml.edu