Course Descriptions
MECH_ENG 448: Flexible Automation and Robotics





picIntroduction to state-of-the-art research in robotics. Robot geometries and kinematics; robot programming languages; dynamics and control; motion planning; machine vision; parts-feeders and jigs; assembly planning; sensors and actuators; scheduling; mobile robots.

Who Takes It

Grad students in robotics or related fields, with an interest in computational aspects of robotics. Advanced undergraduates are welcome too; talk to instructor.

What It's About

Robotics is an interdisciplinary field, combining aspects of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, mathematics, biology, psychology, and others. This course offers a broad perspective of robotics by studying important research papers on a variety of topics. The purpose is to engage the class in an active, scholarly discussion about issues in robotics.

We are particularly interested in the following questions:

  • What is robotics? What are the key problems?
  • What makes a good research paper? Critical thinking is required in this course.
  • What is left to be done?
  • What problems are most interesting to you?


  • Kinematics
  • Motion planning
  • Nonholonomic motion planning
  • Dynamics and control
  • Force control manipulation planning
  • Industrial parts feeding and assembly
  • Sensors
  • Computer vision
  • Artificial intelligence and robot learning
  • Behavior-based robots

Class Activity - Reading/Discussion

Reading, understanding, and actively discussing the papers is the most important facet of this course. Each paper will be assigned to a student who will initiate the discussion with a 10-minute presentation of the paper. The presentation may use overhead projector or blackboard. The presentation should highlight the main points of the paper, offer a critique, and raise some questions for class discussion. The presenter is free to call on anybody for his/her topic for discussion.


In general, the grading would be given upon assessment of student discussion participation, and homework, there would be no exams. However, assessment and evaluation systems do vary with instructors.


Professor: Kevin Lynch