Why take this course?
Robots are ubiquitous in the modern world. Robot manipulators and controllers are key to the mass-production of essential goods in the manufacturing industry, assisted surgery in the medical sector, as well as rapid harvesting, greenhouse regulation, and automated field preparation in the agricultural industries. It is hard to overstate the impact of robotics on our lives; and yet, robots still have a ways to go. There are many applications of robotics riddled with open problems, including space exploration, self-driving vehicles, and general-purpose home assistants. In this class, we will take the first steps towards understanding the design of machines that can think and act, and learn what is about these open problems that makes them so challenging. We will begin by reviewing principles of optimization and machine learning before diving in to the fundamentals of kinematics, dynamics, control, and planning. To conclude the course, we will see how modern ideas in optimization and AI can enable robotic grasping, self-driving, and walking. This is an introductory class, and so our focus will be on understanding foundational robotic concepts while broadly looking at their application in the real world.
What is expected of you?
This class is aimed towards advanced undergraduates and is intended to serve as a "first exposure" to concepts in robotics and robot AI. Grading will be on the basis of homework and class participation, and as such, there will be no exams or final project. A portion of the lecture slots will be devoted to hands-on tutorials taught by the course teaching assistant (please see the syllabus for details).