Rapid Robotics: Autonomous Systems with Open Source Software

Course Summary

Thanks to open source libraries and inexpensive robot platforms, creating advanced robot capabilities has never been more accessible. This course is a hands-on introduction to applied robotics software programming. You will learn to use the popular ROS robotics framework, open source autonomy libraries, and a small ground robot equipped with an RGB-depth sensor to demonstrate behaviors such as person-following, patrolling, exploration, and map-making. Lectures accompanying the laboratory exercises will cover the basics of robotics and autonomy algorithm theory. Participants will work in teams of two on robot systems.
Please note that laptops compatible with VirtualBox or VMWare visualization software are required for this course. Laptops should have 10GB of available hard drive space to install the Virtual Machine. A recent (2009+) laptop with a Core i3, i5, i7, or equivalent processor and 2+ GB of RAM should be sufficient.

Learning Objectives

The participants of this course will be able to:
  1. Leverage open source robotics libraries, e.g. ROS, to rapidly create autonomous robot behaviors
  2. Understand the components of an advanced robot software system
  3. Understand the basic theory underlying robotics and state-of-the-art autonomy algorithms
  4. Understand autonomous system capabilities and technical challenges from a hands-on perspective
  5. Interface with off-the-shelf robot hardware
  6. Acquire and process RGB-depth sensor data      

Who Should Attend

This course is intended for novice robotics engineers, educators, experienced roboticists interested in learning open source robot software frameworks, or managers / program managers who would benefit from a hands-on understanding of autonomous systems.

No prior robotics experience is necessary. The course will focus on selecting, integrating, and tuning existing software packages with some software coding to tie components together and modify behavior. Some familiarity with a Linux/UNIX command line and an interest in programming robots in C++ or Python is recommended.

Course schedule and registration times View 2013 Course Schedule

Registration is on Monday morning from 8:15 - 8:45 am.

Class runs 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Monday through Thursday and ends at 4:00 pm on Friday.

9:00 am – 10:00 am – Lecture
10:30 am – 12:30 pm – Lab
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm – Lunch Break
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm – Lecture
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm – Lab

About The Lecturers

Harry Asada - Ford Professor of Engineering, MIT
Michael Boulet
Mr. Michael Boulet is a member of the technical staff in the Control Systems Engineering Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. His research interests are centered on autonomous control of unmanned vehicles operating in uncertain and dynamic environments. He has over 3 years of experience developing advanced autonomous systems with the ROS robotics software ecosystem. In 11 years at Lincoln, he has developed control and embedded software systems for off-road, airborne, and space-based platforms. Mr. Boulet received a SM degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, both in Mechanical Engineering.

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