Copyright © Maja Mataric, USC

Course Information

Time and place: This course meets three times per week: two lectures and a lab (schedule on Home Page). The size of the lab is limited, so each student/team should go to a fixed lab every week. Make sure you sign up for a lab!

Prerequisites: C-language programming ability or equivalent + CS 101 + junior or senior standing.

 Fees: Because this course involves the use of the computer and electronics laboratory, the students will be charged a standard lab fee of $175/person.

Textbook and readings:

  • The Robotics Primer by Maja J Mataric
  • Robotic Explorations: An Introduction to Engineering Through Design by F. Martin (available in the bookstore)

     Two other texts are recommended as background reading for the course. They are: Vehicles, Experiments in Synthetic Psychology by Valentino Braitenberg, and Artificial Intelligence, A Modern Approach by S. Russell and P. Norvig. These will be available on reserve at the library.

    Course objective and description

    The objective of this course is to use a hands-on approach to introduce the basic concepts in robotics, focusing on mobile robots and illustrations of current state of the art research and applications. Course information will be tied to lab experiments; students will work in teams to build and test increasingly more complex LEGO-based mobile robots, culminating in an end-of-semester robot contest.

    The course will use the LEGO robot kits to cover and illustrate the historical development of robotics as a field, the importance of integrating sensors, effectors and control, basic control, the key approaches to mobile robot control (reactive, behavior-based, and hybrid), and briefly discuss robot learning and multi-robot systems. Additionally, several guest presenters will describe state-of-the-art in robotics research. In the lab, robot kits will be used in weekly exercises illustrating lecture material; the last month of the lab will be spent in applying the learned material to a final project, in which the students will design and build a robot for a final competition.

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