New robotics course in Fall 2015 semester

In the Fall 2015 semester, I taught a new special topics course on robotics (CS 5070). The course was graduate level but many undergraduates took the course as a junior- or senior-year technical elective. So, we had a great mix of 25 students, some B.S., some M.S., and some Ph.D., and from all engineering departments (CS, EE and ME).

The course covered the following topics:

  • ROS and Arduino
  • Locomotion and Control
  • Navigation
  • Sensors
  • Localization
  • Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM)
  • Human-Robot Interaction (HRI)
  • Robotic System Architectures

I lectured for half of the course; for the other half, students read, analyzed and presented a wide range of papers on the above topics.

Course project: 2WD Turtle Robot

Throughout the semester, students worked in five teams to build and develop two-wheeled turtle robots, as pictured here:

2WD Robot

The robot consisted of the following hardware:

  • DFRobot Turtle 2WD Mobile Platform
  • DFRobot motors and wheel encoders
  • Dagu S4A Controller (Arduino-compatible board with motor driver)
  • Raspberry Pi with WiFi dongle
  • Raspberry Pi Camera Module
  • Lynxmotion Little Grip Kit (servo-driven gripper)

By the end of the semester, the robot could maintain velocity with PID control, navigate in a map, detect colored cylinders, and grab them with the gripper. Actually, grabbing the cylinder proved pretty difficult, but the teams gave a great effort.

Each team also pursued a final course project of their choosing; my only guidance was to extend the robot in some interesting way. They put together web pages about the results which I have archived here: