Online Short-Course | From Columbia University


Learn the core techniques for representing robots that perform physical tasks in the real world. We think of Robotics as the science of building devices that physically interact with their environment.

The most useful robots do it precisely, powerfully, repeatedly, tirelessly, fast, or some combinations of these. The most interesting robots maybe even do it intelligently.

This course will cover the fundamentals of robotics, focusing on both the mind and the body. We will learn about two core robot classes: kinematic chains (robot arms) and mobile bases.

For both robot types, we will introduce methods to reason about 3-dimensional space and relationships between coordinate frames.

For robot arms, we will use these to model the task of delivering a payload to a specified location.

For mobile robots, we will introduce concepts for autonomous navigation in the presence of obstacles

Class projects will make use of ROS - the open-source Robot Operating System widely used in both research and industry.

Computer requirements for working on the projects will include a computer set up with Ubuntu Linux and high bandwidth internet access for downloading and installing ROS packages.

This course is part of the Artificial Intelligence MicroMasters® Programme, offered through the edX® platform.

Associated Programmes:

MicroMasters® Programme: Artificial Intelligence

Associated Courses:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Learn the fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and apply them. Design intelligent agents to solve real-world problems including, search, games, machine learning, logic, and constraint satisfaction problems.

Machine Learning

Master the essentials of machine learning and algorithms to help improve learning from data without human intervention.

Animation and CGI Motion

Learn the science behind movie animation from the Director of Columbia’s Computer Graphics Group.


  • College-level introductory linear algebra (vector spaces, linear systems, matrix decomposition)
  • College-level introductory calculus (partial derivatives, function gradients)
  • Basic knowledge of computer programming (variables, functions, control flow)
  • Projects will be carried out in the Python language, with C++ as an option

No Need to Travel

04th February 2019


12 Weeks

8-10hrs Effort per week/module

Represent 2D and 3D spatial relationships, homogeneous coordinates

Manipulate robot arms: kinematic chains, forward and inverse kinematics, differential kinematics

Program and navigate mobile robots: robot and map representations, motion planning

Plan complete robot systems

Develop present and future applications for robots

Week 1

  • Introduction to Robotics
  • Homogenous coordinates and transform representations

Week 2

  • Kinematic chains
  • Forward kinematics

Week 3

  • Inverse kinematics: analytical methods

Week 4

  • Differential kinematics: Jacobian computation, singular configurations

Week 5

  • Configuration space operation

Week 6

  • Mobile robots
  • Differential drive kinematics

Week 7

  • Motion planning in robotics

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