Robot Lab (Spring 2010)

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  • Class will meet weekly, starting March 30th, 2010.

Course Logistics

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.
Class Time: TR 15:30->17:00
Class Location: TBD
Office Hours: Rob Lass: TR 5-6PM in the CLC; Dr. Regli: By appointment only.
Course Instructor: William C. Regli, Ph.D.
Teaching Assistants: Rob Lass Urlass.png
Instructor Contact: Email regli (at) drexel (DOT) edu (not that this will help keep the spammers away)
Phone 215.895.6827; Office: UC 143

Course Objectives and Outcomes

Design, analysis and implementation of multi-robot systems in simulation Robotic systems will be “virtual” and interact in a synthetic environment. Students will have weekly programming assignments with the Player / Stage / Gazebo environment.

At the end of the course, students will

  1. understand the basic concepts of robotics (from a computer-science point of view), including kinematics, dynamics, actuators, controllers, etc;
  2. design experiments for robotic platforms;
  3. gain experience with biologically-inspired robotics techniques (swarming, biologically inspired design, etc)
  4. implement robot control algorithms, both open loop and closed loop
  5. Design robot modeling & simulation experiments
  6. Develop path planning techniques and Simultaneous Location & Mapping (SLAM) algorithms
  7. Work with Robot Teaming and Planning, including flocks, swarms, leader-follower, predator-prey, etc
  8. Have an introduction to human-Robot Teaming


Date Assignment Topic Summary Notes Links and References
March 30
April 1

Intro to Robot Lab


Player/Stage/Gazebo Wiki Tutorial, Media:Psg-tutorial.ppt,Media:Psg-tutorial.pdf,

Introduction to Robotics Media:Introduction_to_Robotics.ppt
April 6
April 8 S2010RL-Homework 1 due Simulation Media:Simulation_of_Robotic_Systems.ppt
April 13
April 15 Simulation Media:Simulation_of_Robotic_Systems.ppt

Media:2009-SLAM-a.ppt Media:2009-Robot-Lab-Path-Planning.ppt

XPM manual

Media:p5-goldberg-Floating-Point.pdf ACM Computing Surveys article on Floating point computation.

April 20
April 22 Robotics Videos
April 27
April 29 SLAM Media:SLAM.ppt
May 4
May 6
May 11
May 13
May 18
May 20
May 25
May 27 Path Planning Media:Robot-Lab-Path-Planning.ppt
June 1
June 3


Relevant texts and readings:

  1. Intelligence without Representation, Rodney Brooks.
  2. Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us (Paperback) by Rodney Brooks, Publisher: Vintage (February 4, 2003); ISBN-10: 037572527X.
  3. Introduction to the Kalman Filter from UNC.
  4. SLAM for Dummies
  5. J.J. Craig. Introduction to Robotics: Mechanics and Control. Prentice Hall; 3rd edition, 2003.
  6. Kiyoshi Toko. Biomimetic Sensor Technology. Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  7. Karl Williams. Amphibionics: Build Your Own Biologically Inspired Reptilian Robot. McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics, 2003.
  8. David Cook. Robot Building for Beginners. Apress, 2002.
  9. What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic

Player/Stage Documentation:

  1. How to Use Player / Stage


The due dates are listed on the week by week breakdown of the course below. When an assignment is due on a particular date, that means the assignment is really due that week.

Please note that May 7th is the last day you may withdraw from the course.


This class will be nearly entirely executed in simulation using Play/Stage/Gazebo. Students not comfortable with software development, hacking and programming will find this course difficult, if not impossible. We will not be providing remedial programming or operating systems tutorials in this course. All information needed to execute the assignments is available (or will be made available) on the web, either at the course wiki page or using services like

It is recommended that students compile Player / Stage v3.0 or later from source on Ubuntu (or an Ubuntu VM) to use when completing their assignments. The grader will not attempt to recreate the development environment of every student in the class to run their assignments. Students MUST complete the assignments in Java, unless they get permission from Rob to use a different language IN ADVANCE.

Miscellaneous Resources

Wiki page for Winter 2009 Robot Lab: [1]

Wiki page for Winter 2007 Roomba Lab: [2]

Page from Spring 2007 Robotics Lab: [3]

iRobot Create Forums: [4]

Robotics Primer Workbook based around the Create [5]