Introducing Robotics: Build a Robot Arm

Peter Corke, Queensland University of Technology

Here’s your chance to build a simple robot.

Robotics is all about integrating hardware and software. In this course, you’ll design, build and program a simple robot, with at least two joints, that can carry a pen or pencil and draw a coordinated line on a sheet of a paper. There are lots of ways you could actually build such a robot and that will depend on your skill level, your budget, or what equipment you can source.

You may find the project challenging. You’ll need to bring together a number of skills, such as mechanical design and software development. The software needs to implement kinematic algorithms as well as communicate with sensors and motors. You will need to generate a trajectory of points for the robot to move on the worksheet and test and adjust the software to improve your robot’s performance. At the end of the course, you’ll be invited to submit a video of your completed robot for peer review.

This project is an exciting opportunity to apply mathematical, algorithmic and control principles of robot arm manipulators, so you’ll need to understand these principles before starting. This includes concepts from advanced high-school mathematics or engineering, especially analytic geometry and linear algebra. That is, you need to know about points, vectors, matrices, matrix-vector and matrix-matrix multiplication and linear transformations.

You’ll find the prerequisite knowledge and skills to build your robot in Introducing Robotics: Making Robots Move. Enrol now to check that you’re familiar with the concepts.

If you wish to build a robot arm, you will need access to robotic kits or components. Before you buy any equipment, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss different build options with your peers and the teaching team. If you’re not able to source equipment though, you can still learn the build principles in this course.

In this course, we demonstrate the build principles using the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT kit. While this kit is no longer produced, you can complete the project using a variety of technologies.

How you build your robot depends on what resources you have access to. You might choose to purchase a robotics development kit or borrow hobby robot components. You’ll need a 64-bit computer to install the MATLAB software and a software toolbox to control your robot. With support from MathWorks, free access to MATLAB will be provided for the duration of the course plus 30 days.

The software you need to program your robot depends on the hardware you choose to use. For example, you might choose a LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 kit, together with the MATLAB LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Support Package. If you are more experienced, you might choose to use an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, together with their relevant MATLAB Support Packages. We encourage you to discuss your build options with your peers and the teaching team before sourcing them.

Dates:
  • 14 October 2019
  • 8 October 2018
  • 7 May 2018
  • 6 November 2017
  • 10 July 2017
  • 20 February 2017
Course properties:
  • Free:
  • Paid:
  • Certificate:
  • MOOC:
  • Video:
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  • Email-course:
  • Language: English Gb

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