Introduction to robotics in QUT MOOC

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Robotic essentials

‘Robots play a major role in our world and this exciting six week course will help you to understand the fundamental mathematics and algorithms that underpin modern robotics.’

Professor Peter Corke

Course outline

This course includes an introductory week, followed by six weeks of lectures. Each week includes two video lectures, quizzes and MATLAB programming exercises.

  • Getting started: Pre-course activities are available in the week prior to week 1. These activities help you prepare for the course.
  • Week 1: Introduction to robotics and Where things are in 2D
  • Week 2: Where things are in 3D and Time varying coordinate frames
  • Week 3: Measuring the motion of things and Robot arms and forward kinematics
  • Week 4: Inverse kinematics and robot motion and Robot velocity in 2D
  • Week 5: Robot velocity in 3D and Robot joint control
  • Week 6: Rigid body dynamics and Robotics and the future
  • Final week: Submissions and project peer assessment. All quiz and MATLAB assessments must be submitted. Participants who have undertaken the Build a robot arm project must submit their video for peer assessment and participate as a peer assessor.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • describe and explain what robots are and what they can do
  • describe mathematically the position and orientation of objects and how they move
  • describe mathematically the relationship between robot joint coordinates and tool pose
  • reflect on the future role and development of robots in human society
  • compute the rigid-body forces in a robot and design a joint control system (optional advanced material)
  • apply the mathematical, algorithmic and control principles of robot arm manipulators to implement a working robot through physical construction and software development (applies to optional project).

Before the course

We recommend that you review these Khan Academy instructional videos on mathematics before the course starts:


Throughout the course you’ll have the opportunity to complete assessable quizzes and programming exercises. These will be marked automatically. The programming exercises will consist of several MATLAB tasks and will be based on the lecture content for that week.

Certificate of participation

If you complete the assessment successfully you will receive a certificate of participation. The certificate does not earn credit points towards a QUT qualification. The overall assessment is worth a total of 240 points (120 points for assessable quizzes and 120 points for MATLAB programming tasks). You need to achieve an overall score of 50% (120 points). The quizzes and programming tasks are weighted equally, so it does not matter how you make up your 120 points.

Optional project

As an optional project, you can choose to build a simple robot arm and write the software to control it. You’ll need a LEGO Mindstorms robotics development kit. This isn’t a requirement for the certificate of participation, however it’s a valuable opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills. A peer assessment or review process will allow you to share your experience and robot with others, while reviewing the robots your peers build.


You should spend about 4-8 hours per week on this course. Depending on your level of skill with MATLAB and programming in general, your studies might include:

  • 2 hours viewing the lecture videos and completing the optional quiz questions to check your understanding
  • 30 minutes for each of the six weekly assessable quizzes
  • 2 hours for each of the six weekly programming exercises
  • 1-2 hours building the robot (optional project) or doing further research and/or communicating on the discussion forum.

Hardware requirements

You’ll need a computer capable of running MATLAB. Visit the MathWorks website to check the MATLAB system requirements.

If you’re completing the optional project, you’ll need to purchase a LEGO Mindstorms robotics development kit. The kits cost approximately US$380, but this could vary depending on the supplier and your location. The project videos show components available in the 9797 LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education Base Set, but you’ll be able to do the project with the 45544 LEGO®MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Set as well.

Software requirements

You’ll need this software:

  • MATLAB, a proprietary technical computing and visualisation package which is a core requirement. MathWorks have generously provided a downloadable license to use MATLAB for free for the duration of the course. You can access the licence and the software from the course site once you’ve registered
  • open source toolboxes for MATLAB will be available from the course site
  • the open source RWTH Mindstorms NXT toolbox is required to complete the robot arm building project.


Access to the textbook written by Professor Peter Corke, Robotics, Vision and Control: Fundamental Algorithms in MATLAB (2011, Springer) is optional, but considered beneficial. The textbook will be available for purchase at a significant discount after you’ve registered. The course includes free extracts from the textbook for you to read online while studying with Peter.


Peter Corke is Professor of Robotic Vision at QUT and Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision. He wrote the textbook Robotics, Vision and Control (2011) and authored the MATLAB toolboxes for Robotics and Machine Vision .

Peter’s long-term research interests are in vision based robot control, field robotics and wireless sensor networks.


Author: iotmaker

I am interested in IoT, robot, figures & leadership. Also, I have spent almost every day of the past 15 years making robots or electronic inventions or computer programs.

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