Robotics (Fall 2007)

Instructor: Dr. John F. Santore
Phone: 508-531-2226
Office: Hart 220

Instructor Web Page:
Course Web Page:

Office Hours: I also will take appointments if you cannot make my other office hours, however, I generally have meetings and work prepared for a day or two ahead so plan on about 48 hours from the time I get your request to us being able to meet.

Course Description:

The course description given in the course catalog is outdated and referred to the robotic arms used in previous versions of this class.

In this class we will explore a variety of robotic concepts necessary for working with small mobile robotics. The class will cover the acquisition and processing of sensor data, the use of effectors/motors, planning/navigation, object detection, and skills necessary to programming in a small microcontroller with limited memory and processing power rather than a modern PC with few such limitations. If we get new robot bodies in time, we will also look as simple robot vision and color blob tracking.


The prerequisites listed for this course are also out of date. If you have a good working knowledge of calculus and have passed data structures with a grade of c+ or better you will prepared for this course. If you do not have these, you ought to see me.


Required: Introduction to AI Robotics by Robin Murphy

Class Requirements and grading:

Robotics projects: 48%
Exams: 48%
Everything else (mostly participation and demonstrating that you understand the material regularly): 4%

Project work:
In robotics, you must work with actual robots in order to completely understand the concepts you are learning. There will be 4 projects in this course involving the actual robots. These projects will be group projects and must be done in the robot lab itself. You will be responsable for designing and building the robots as well as programming them. Each project will have an in class demo (with the possible exception of the last project which may have a public demo instead). Each project will also be accompanied by a project report wherein you will discribe your sucesses, failures and lessons learned from that project. The project reports will be worth about 1/3 of the total credit for the project and so should be well written.


There will be two exams in this class, a midterm and a final. The final will be scheduled by the college. The midterm will be on Oct 11th.  If you have a legitimate reason for missing an exam, see your instructor before the scheduled exam time to arrange for reasonable accomidation. If you miss the exam without prior approval, you will forfeit the exam. (emergency room visits and the like excepted of course)

Everything else (quizzes etc):
There will be several quizzes in this class intended to acclimate you to my examination style in a low threat environment. There may also be a homework or two to practice a concept that is important, but not something we have time to build a lab around.

Students with special needs:

Anyone who has special needs should contact me in the first week of classes so that reasonable accommodations can be agreed on.

Academic Integrity:

See for a complete description of the academic integrity procedure at Bridgewater.

Academic integrity will be taken very seriously in this class. All individual work must be your own. If you cheat or otherwise represent the work of others as your own. You will receive an F for the course.

Guidelines for proper academic integrity:

All in class exams and quizzes are closed book and closed neighbor unless the class is explicily told otherwise. If you are found using a data storage device of any kind during one of these evaluations, you will be failed for the course.

The papers are to be your own work. I can and often do type entire sentances into google to see if someone else has written the same thing. Large segments of "your" paper being on-line with someone elses name attached will result in an academic integrity hearing.  

Standards for in class behavior:

You are all adults and are expected to act as adults in this class. While questions are encouraged in this class, if a particular line of questioning is taking us too far afield, I will ask the student to come by my office hours or to see me after class.

Cell phones, pagers, electronic organizers and other devises should be silenced while in class. If you work of EMS or something similar, please turn your cell phones/ pagers etc to vibrate mode so that you are not disrupting others in the class.

In the unlikely case of trouble makers in the class, those who are simply attempting to disrupt the class will be asked to stop; those who will not, will be referred to the college for appropriate action.

I do not take regular attendance. Because of the census day regulations, I'll have to take occasional attendance. You are adults and are paying for this class. If you miss a class, you are expected to get notes from a classmate and familiarize yourself with the material that was covered before returning to class. I do find from dealing with students in the past that attendance at lecture (and paying attention rather than surfing the web the whole class) is highly correlated with doing well in my classes.

Week Topic Assignment
Week 1 Introduction, History of robotics.
Week 2 Sensors and locamotion
Week 3 overview of robot control paradigms and
Hierarchical robot control Summary
Week 4 Reactive robot control
Week 5 Designing reactive robots
Week 6 Hybrid robot control and exam
Week 7 Navigation
Week 8 Navigation and space
Week 9 Robotic Vision??
Week 10 Robotic Vision II ??
Week 11    Multi-robot systems
Week 12 Robot demo slip time
Week 13 Localization and Mapping (SLAM?)
Week 14 finishing up and review for final