Final Project


For your final project, you will present an overview of a historically important robotic system in a short talk. There is a list below of suggested robots to check out, but you may also propose an alternative (subject to approval from the professor). Your presentation should address these three main questions:

Your presentation should also include images (and video, if available) of the robot, as well as any equations or diagrams that help your audience understand the technical content.

Each presentation is expected to be 15 minutes, plus approximately 5 minutes for questions. You will work in groups of three students. All group members should present for roughly equal time periods.



A prominent early AI/robotics project. Led to the development of A* and other foundational algorithms/techniques.

Nilsson, Nils J. "Shakey the robot." SRI International Technical Note 323, April 1984. [PDF]


Foundational platform of the late 80's / early 90's behavior-based robotics movement. Brooks went on to found iRobot, which produces the Roomba and the PackBot, among others.

Brooks, Rodney A. "A Robot that Walks: Emergent Behaviors from a Carefully Evolved Network." MIT AI Lab Memo 1091, February 1989. [PDF]


Behavior-based robotics approach to autonomous driving. Trained an artifical neural network to imitate a human driver given camera images of the road. NavLab 5, a relative of the system described here, successfully drove cross-country in July 1995.

Todd Jochem and Dean Pomerleau, "Life in the Fast Lane: The Evolution of an Adaptive Vehicle Control System," AI Magazine, Vol. 17, No. 2, 1996, pp. 11-50. [PDF]

Dante II

Statically stable legged robot envisioned as a prototype of a planetary rover. Designed to descend into volcanoes to collect scientific data.

Bares, John E., and David S. Wettergreen. "Dante II: Technical description, results, and lessons learned." The International Journal of Robotics Research 18.7 (1999): 621-649. [PDF]


Winner of the DARPA Grand Challenge, an autonomous race across the desert. Thrun is a co-developer of Google Street View and also works with their driverless car technology.

Thrun, S. et al. "Stanley: The Robot that Won the DARPA Grand Challenge." Journal of Field Robotics, 2006. [PDF]

Spirit & Opportunity

Mars rovers capable of autonomous navigation. Planned for 90 days of operation, but far exceeded that. Opportunity has been operating continuously since early 2004.

Maimone, Mark W., P. Chris Leger, and Jeffrey J. Biesiadecki. "Overview of the Mars exploration rovers autonomous mobility and vision capabilities." IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Space Robotics Workshop. 2007. [PDF]

HRP Series

The HRP-3 is the third generation in the series of humanoid robots designed and manufactured by researchers in Japan. The HRP series were among the first robots to demonstrate stable bipedal locomotion.

Kaneko, Kenji, et al. "Humanoid robot HRP-3." IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. IEEE, 2008. [PDF]


Hydraulically driven quadruped designed to be the "army's robotic pack mule".

Raibert, Marc, et al. "BigDog, the rough-terrain quadruped robot." Proceedings of the 17th World Congress of the International Federation of Automatic Control. 2008. [PDF]


Winner of the DARPA Urban Challenge, which added road rules and safe driving among other cars to the previous Grand Challenge. Urmson currently works with Sebastian Thrun (above) on Google's autonomous cars.

Urmson, C. et al. "Autonomous driving in urban environments: Boss and the Urban Challenge." Journal of Field Robotics Special Issue on the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge, Part I, Vol. 25, No. 8, June, 2008, pp. 425-466. [PDF]


Project intended to help endow BigDog with ability to deliberate about footsteps over rough terrain. Many teams from various institutions participated, but I have a personal connection to this author.

Zucker, Matt, et al. "Optimization and learning for rough terrain legged locomotion." International Journal of Robotics Research, 30.2 (2011): 175-191. [PDF]

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