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.
View the Artificial Intelligence (AI) course

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

Animation and CGI Motion
Learn the science behind movie animation from the Director of Columbia’s Computer Graphics Group.
View the Animation and CGI Motion course


  • 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

edX® and MicroMasters® are registered trademarks of edX® Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Programme duration
    12 weeks
  • Estimated effort
    8-10 hours per week
  • Fee
  • Institution
  • Language
Start Dates
  • 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

Course Syllabus

  • Theme 1: Introduction to Robotics. Homogenous coordinates and transform representations
  • Theme 2: Kinematic chains. Forward kinematics
  • Theme 3: Inverse kinematics: analytical methods
  • Theme 4: Differential kinematics: Jacobian computation, singular configurations
  • Theme 5: Configuration space operation
  • Theme 6: Mobile robots. Differential drive kinematics
  • Theme 7: Motion planning in robotics