Week 1

We started with a little pep talk to try and encourage students to perhaps approach science in a new way.

1.     Work hard

2.     Ponder problems with persistence(donít give up)

3.     Build models and confront them with the ideas presented.Be as self-consistent as possible.

4.     Start with the simplest approach.

We discussed in more detail these ideas and as you proceed through the course the goal is to really understand the material and not to simply memorize a set of disconnected facts.With experience you can self assess and recognize if you understand an idea and can apply your knowledge to reach conclusions or if you have gaps or points of confusion.This is a very potent skill.

As an example a graph of position versus time was presented and analyzed with emphasis on extracting the information based on intuition and basic ability to read a graph rather than referring to a set of rules perhaps learned as part of a physic class.

The topic of robotics was introduced as an overarching theme. Building, designing and developing robots requires a combination of math and science. The need to understand, for example, basic physics concepts such as forces and motion can be linked to problems in robot design.Robotics is also a hot topic that will most likely significantly impact society and us in the near future.The use and production of robots will present us with serious ethical, social and political questions.

The course will require the student to gain an overview on the current state of robotics.The student should also be able understand in a broad sense the makeup, challenges, successes that are the hallmarks of the field of robotics.

In addition we will cover in more depth some basics concepts in physics and perhaps other disciplines.

The students should read chapter 1 of Hewitt. If there are questions about the material in chapter 1 please be sure and ask a question in class.

Physics Topics:

Chapter 1:


weight (gravity)

-need to know the difference


-push or pull


static Ť balancesmall object ∑ forces=0, extended ∑ Torques=0

rotational force is a torque

speed velocity

instantaneous speed, average speed



Robotics Topics:


  1. brain == microprocessor, computer
    1. algorithms
    2. I/O
    3. control


The process broken into steps is an algorithm.While we give instructionsŤ Go over there.The implementation of a procedure to event the basic operations is often fairly complex.


  1. Structure (static)
    1. balance
    2. lift



You can imagine that for basic task choosing a material and a structure are simple and obvious but if you are performing other tasks then vibrations, stiffness and other properties might be vital factors.


How do you define balance? When is it sufficient to expect an object will remain in place and how stable is an object at what point might it fall down?


How do you know the impact of an arm at the end when you are driving it form the other end?


  1. movement
    1. arms to perform tasks
    2. movement to various locations



How do you know how the end effector moves


  1. sensors


Human Sensing

Sense:sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell



EM waves


Pressure waves


Chemicals -flavor


Chemicals -odor


Contact pressure


Othere senses heat, pain, balance, awareness?



Magnetoception (birds)

Electroception (sharks, etc.)

Electroception (sharks, etc.)

Echolocation (bats, etc.)

Pressure gradient (fish)