CpE 470/670 Autonomous Mobile Robots

Fall 2014

General Information Course Description Laboratory Syllabus Assignments/Grading Announcements

Instructor: Monica Nicolescu

E-mail: monica@cse.unr.edu
Office: SEM 239
Phone: (775) 784-1687
Office hours: Tuesdays 11am-noon, 1-3pm, or by appointment

Time and Place

Lectures: 9:30-10:45am, SEM 344
Labs: 9:30-10:45pm, LME 321


The Robotics Primer, 2007. (required)
Author: Maja Mataric'
Robotic Explorations: An Introduction to Engineering Through Design, 2001. (optional)
Author: Fred G. Martin

Course description

This is a hands-on course on introduction to robotics, relying on the use of LEGO-based robots. The course will present the basic concepts in robotics, such as sensors, actuators, and will describe the most important approaches to robot control. Students will have the opportunity to apply the concepts covered during the lectures in the laboratory sessions, by constructing their own robots and developing controllers for various robotic tasks. The class will have a lecture and a laboratory component. Each week, the lectures will be held on Tuesdays, and the laboratory sessions will be held on Thursdays. More details regarding the lectures and the laboratory sessions will be posted on the web page soon.


The class requires good programming skills and that you should be familiar with the C programming environment. For the undergraduate section, a letter grade of B+ and better in CS 201 is recommended.


The laboratory sessions will be focused on building and programming LEGO based robots.

Resources: NXC tutorial; NXC user guide; User manual (smaller scope than first two); Install.

Date Lab Session Readings Assignments

Aug 27/TD>

Lab 1 - Building our first robot --- ---

Sep 3

Lab 2 - The first NXC programs NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Sep 10

Lab 3 - Corner Escape Contest NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Sep 17

Lab 4 - Harvesting Contest NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Sep 24

Lab 5 - work on the Harvesting Contest NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Oct 1

Lab 6 - Harvesting Contest, Begin working on the Line Following Contest NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Oct 8

Lab 7 - work on the Line Following Contest NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Oct 15

Lab 8 - Line Following Contest, Begin working on the Ball Sorting Contest NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Oct 22

Lab 9 - work on the Ball Sorting Contest NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Oct 29

Lab 10 - work on the Ball Sorting Contest NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Nov 5

Lab 11 - Ball Sorting Contest, Final project preparation NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Nov 12

Final project preparation NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Nov 19

Final project preparation NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Nov 26

Final project preparation NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Dec 3

Final project preparation NXC tutorial and user guides ---

Dec 12

FINAL CONTEST, Hand back the robot kits --- ---
Team # Students
Team 1 Bandith, Terence
Team 2 Collin, Jesus
Team 3 Kyle, Vinh
Team 4 Eric, Henrique
Team 5 Dritan, Vladimir
Team 6 Alexander, Thomas


Following are the topics that will be discussed, listed in the approximate order in which they will be covered.
  • Introduction, brief history of robotics, robot components
  • Effectors and actuators
  • Locomotion
  • Manipulation
  • Sensors (basic and complex)
  • Feedback control
  • Control Architectures: reactive, hybrid, behavior-based
  • Behavior coordination
  • Emergent behavior and learning

Class schedule

The topics presented and the lecture notes for each class will gradually be posted below as we cover them in the class. The assignments and their due dates will also be posted in this table. Please check this web page regularly for updates.

Date Topic Readings Assignments

Aug 25

Introduction --- ---

Sep 8

Brief history of robotics --- ---

Sep 15

Effectors and actuators --- ---

Sep 22

Locomotion, manipulation and the perceptual problem --- ---

Sep 29

Perceptual problem (simple and complex sensors) --- ---

Oct 6

No class today - moved to lab session. --- Hw1

Oct 13

Perceptual problem (complex sensors), feedback control, algorithmic control --- ---

Oct 20

Reactive architectures, behavior-based architectures --- ---

Oct 27

MID-TERM --- ---

Nov 3

Reactive Architectures, behavior based systems --- ---

Nov 10

No class. --- ---

Nov 17

Coordination and expression of behaviors, emergent behavior. --- ---

Nov 24

Deliberative architectures, hybrid systems, robot learning --- Hw2

Dec 1

Robot Learning, multi-robot systems, future directions Videos ---

Dec 8

Final exam - in class --- ---

Assignments and grading

Evaluation for this class will be based on your performance during the laboratory sessions, two mid-term exams and a final project. Regular participation in the laboratory sessions is required. If you are unable to attend a lab session you must inform me in advance.

Grading policy (tentative, subject to change):
Homeworks: 20%
Mid-term (1): 20%
Mit-term (2): 20%
Laboratory sessions: 20%
Final project: 20%

Late policy: No late submissions will be accepted.

Exam policy: Permission to take exams on other dates than scheduled will not be given, except for extreme medical emergencies.

Academic integrity: Students are encouraged to study together, however each student must individually prepare his/her solutions. Cheating or plagiarism are not permitted and will be sanctioned according with the UNR policy on Academic Standards. You should carefully read the section on Academic Dishonesty found in the UNR Student Handbook (copies of this section are on-line). Your continued enrollment in this course implies that you have read it, and that you subscribe to the principles stated therein.

Disability Services: Any student with a disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with me or the Disability Resource Center (Thompson Building, Suite 101) as soon as possible to arrange for appropriate accommodations.

Academic Success Services: Your student fees cover usage of the Math Center (784-4433 or URL), Tutoring Center (784-6801 or URL), and University Writing Center (784-6030 or URL). These centers support your classroom learning; it is your responsibility to take advantage of their services. Keep in mind that seeking help outside of class is the sign of a responsible and successful student.

Audio and Video Recording: Surreptitious or covert video-taping of class or unauthorized audio recording of class is prohibited by law and by Board of Regents policy. This class may be videotaped or audio recorded only with the written permission of the instructor. In order to accommodate students with disabilities, some students may have been given permission to record class lectures and discussions. Therefore, students should understand that their comments during class may be recorded.


Announcements regarding the assignments or other updates will be posted on the class web page and also sent by e-mail.

Created by: Monica NICOLESCU (e-mail:monica@cse.unr.edu)