COURSE: SPRING 2021 ABE 424/ ECE 498
Principles of Mobile Robotics

Teaching Staff

Meeting Times

  • The class meets Tuesday and Thursday 11:00 AM to 12:20PM online only
  • The lab meets every Wednesday from 9:00 AM to 10:50 AM online only
  • The class counts for 4 credits, and includes a lab
Instructor's Office Hours
  • Half hour before and after class or by appointment
TA's Office Hours
  • Location: online
  • Times: TBA

Course Description

The objective of this course is to prepare students in designing system architectures, algorithms, and software for autonomous aerial and ground mobile robots that operate. The course will cover three primary aspects of mobile robotics: Perception, Motion Control, and Data Analytics, and bring everything together through labs involving Ground robots and flying Unmanned Aircraft (Drones).


This course will draw from a number of texts, in addition to notes supplied by the instructor. I do not expect that you will be purchasing all of these texts, but if you are interested in building a robotics library, these texts will be the right ones to invest in. I will provide scans and summaries where appropriate on Piazza. In addition, a number of papers will are included in the required reading.The primary texts utilized are:

  • Siegwart et al., Autonomous Mobile Robots
  • Kuipers, Quaternions and Rotation Sequences
  • Farrell, Aided Navigation, GPS with high-rate Sensors
  • Instructor notes
Optional additional reading:
  • Kelly, Mobile Robotics: Mathematics, Models, and Methods
  • Dudek and Jenkin, Computational Principles of Mobile Robotics

Course Motivation

This section of the syllabus explains the motivation behind the creation of this course and what you can expect to get out of it.

Robots are systems that perceive and understand the world around them and are capable of navigating the world or manipulating objects to perform tasks. The last century has seen an unprecedented growth in manufacturing productivity and quality largely due to the advent of factory based robots. These robots accomplish complex manufacturing and assembly tasks in structured and highly controlled factory environments. In contrast, mobile robots operate in the real-world, which in many cases is not a controlled environment, and in some cases can be harsh, full of uncertainty, and dynamically changing. The next age in robotics will be enabled by rapid and profound advances in mobile and field robotics. Unlike factory robots, which need highly structured environments, field robots will be able to accomplish complex tasks in the face of high level of uncertainty.

We are already seeing exciting developments in the field robotics front. Autonomous driving cars; GPS enabled precision agricultural autonomous seeders, harvesters and sprayers; extraterrestrial rovers; and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are but some examples of field robots. As the century progresses, we will see field robotics enabling a vast array of exciting applications, from smart-grids, smart and connected traffic networks to smart cities, and mobile internet of things.

In all of these and other emerging applications, the enabling technology is seamless integration of Cyber and Physical components. Cyber components include software, embedded computers, sensors, and other electronic and computational artifacts; while physical components include hardware (cars, airplanes, power lines) that is subject to the rules of physics (dynamics, kinematics, elctromechanics, fluid flows).

Robotic cyber-physical systems (CPS) are expected to achieve the following:

  • Understand, perceive, and model the environment in which they operate
  • Make real-time decisions to meet higher level objectives
  • Ensure the safety of the system and its stake-holders
  • Operate robustly in a wide variety of environments
  • Collaborate with other systems
This course has been created to provide an introduction to the underlying scientific and engineering principles for the design and automation of mobile field robots.

Lecture Schedule


Module Slides & NOTES



  • Coordinate frame transformations
  • Quaternions and mobile robot dynamics