ME 449 Robotic Manipulation (Archive Fall 2015)

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Fall Quarter 2015


Course Summary

Mechanics of robotic manipulation, computer representations and algorithms for manipulation planning, and applications to industrial automation, parts feeding, grasping, fixturing, and assembly.


Grading for the course will be based on problem sets and a final project. There will be no exams.

Course Text

"Introduction to Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control," F. C. Park and K. M. Lynch. These course notes will be undergoing revision throughout the quarter; check the timestamp in the table of contents.

Summary of important equations.

How to obtain Matlab


Assignments are graded based on correctness, how well you organize your homework (it should be easy to understand your thinking and easy to find your responses), and how well you follow the submission instructions below. You will lose points if you don't follow these instructions.

Instructions for uploading assignments to Canvas:

0. Upload on time! Late submissions are not accepted. The cutoff time is at the beginning of class on the day the assignment is due.

1. Only upload one zip file or rar file for each assignment;

2. In your zip file or rar file, include all source codes in their original form, such as .cpp, .m, .py, .nb.

3. If there is a demo, combine the screen shots into one SEPARATE pdf file, OR, show the results in one SEPARATE .txt file (DON'T show them in your source code file format, e.g. .nb file), and include it in the zip file (or rar file).

4. Please name the codes by their corresponding problem numbers.

5. Please name the upload file in the following format:

Visualizing Manipulators in MATLAB or ROS

We provide two different methods for visualizing the motion of a robotic arm, one in MATLAB and the other in ROS. Choose whichever method sounds more appealing to you.

The Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB

If you would like to use MATLAB, we recommend the Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB. Please download the version we provide on the ME 449 wiki. We've made a minor change to the original code, so that the base and end-effector frames are shown by default. Instructions on how to visualize poses and animate arm trajectories can be found here and in the zip file below.

Download: MATLAB Robotics Toolbox for ME


If you would like to use rviz, a visualization package in ROS (Robot Operating System), we provide installation and usage instructions for native Linux users and a virtual machine for Windows and Mac users.

Linux users, follow these instructions: Kinematics Tool Guide for Native ROS on Linux.

Windows and Mac users, you should follow these instructions: Kinematics Tool Guide in a Virtual Machine (Mac, Windows).

Approximate Syllabus

Configuration Space

reading: Chapter 2

  • degrees of freedom, Grubler's formula, parameterizations, holonomic and nonholonomic constraints

Rigid-Body Motions

reading: Chapter 3

  • rotation matrices, Euler angles, exponential coordinates, unit quaternions
  • angular velocities
  • rigid-body motions
  • spatial velocities

Forward Kinematics

reading: Chapter 4

  • product of exponentials formula

Velocity Kinematics and Statics

reading: Chapter 5

  • coordinate, space, and body Jacobians
  • statics of open chains, singularities, manipulability

Inverse Kinematics

reading: Chapter 6, but you may skip 6.1

  • 2R example, numerical methods, and redundant open chains

Dynamics of Open Chains

reading: Chapter 8.1 and 8.2 on Lagrangian formulation, rest of the chapter on Newton-Euler and task space coords

  • Lagrangian formulation, dynamics of a single rigid body
  • Newton-Euler inverse and forward dynamics of open chains, dynamics in task space

Trajectory Generation

reading: Chapter 9, but you may skip 9.2 and 9.3

  • definitions and time-optimal time scaling

Motion Planning

reading: Chapter 10 through 10.5.1

  • overview, foundations, and complete path planners
  • grid methods and the RRT sampling method

Robot Control

optional: Chapter 11

Grasping and Manipulation

reading: Chapter 12

  • contact kinematics, planar graphical methods, and form closure
  • contact forces, planar graphical methods, and force closure, Chapter 12.2
  • other manipulation, Chapter 12.3

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