MECH 6905 Autonomous Robotics / CSCI 6905 Special Graduate Topics

This new course will be offered Fall 2011 in collaboration with Dalhousie Engeneering and Computer Science, and with Computer Science at Acadia University


Introduce the student to advance topics in autonomous robotics.  This should be of interest to graduate students in engineering and computer science working in robotics or intelligent control and machine learning as applied to robotics at Dalhousie and Acadia Universities.  The intelligent aspect of marine robots will be the focus. Emphasis is on hands-on implementation with LEGO MindStorms robots as test beds.  Course culminates in a competition to showcase solutions to a challenge.


Fri, 9:00 am – noon, Teaching Lab 2, Goldberg Computer Science Building (Dal);  Carnegie Hall 410 (Acadia);  tutorials occur in the last hour.


Dr. Thomas Trappenberg                       
contact info:, 494-3087 (Dalhousie Computer Science, Campbell Building)

Mae L. Seto, Ph.D., P.Eng., SMIEEE
contact info:, 494-3170 (Dalhouse Mechanical Engg, Rm C309), 426-3100 x274 (Defence R&D Canada)

Dr. Danny Silver
contact info:, 902-585-1413, Acadia, Jodrey School of Computer Science


Thrun, S., Burgard, W., Fox, D. (2005), Probabilistic Robotics, MIT Press. (optional)
Russell and Norvig, (2005), Artificial Intelligent, (optional)


undergraduate probability and statistics, some programming and calculus


Please contact the instructor from your respective Faculty


quizzes and assignments 60% course projects 40%

Link to online class:


Date Topic Lead Instructor Assignment Test
Sep 9 Introduction to Intelligent Marine Systems Seto    
Sep 16 Baseline Probability and Statistics Background / Introduction to MATLAB for Robotics Programming Trappenberg A1  
Sep 23 Robotic Perception, Motion, & Control, Introduction to the MindStorm Robots


Sep 30 A bit Control Theory and Localization & Bayesian Filters Trappenberg A2  
Oct 7 Path-Planning and Navigation Seto A4  
Oct 14 Simultaneous Localization and Mapping Seto    
Oct 21 Supervised and unsupervised learning Trappenberg A5  
Oct 28 Canceled      
Nov 4 Knowledge Based Agents Seto Project  
Nov 11 Remembrance Day      
Nov 18 Markov Decision Processes & Reinforcement learning Trappenberg    
Nov 25 Project Implementation Seto/Silver/
Dec 2 Project Competition Seto/Silver/

Links to Resources 

TED talk by Sebastian Thrun


Solution to A1.5

Manuscript for basic control theory

Some example programs to discuss control. A simple linear contoller: linearController.m and a proportianal feedabck conoller: feedbackController.m 

Videos to illustrte particle filter (from here)videos including 1. Dead reckoning video, 2. Known initial location Particle Filter video, 3. Unknown initial location Particle Filter video, 4. Problem in symmetric environment video.

Autonomous Science Agent and Sensor Web_sherwood_ieeeaero06_beyond.pdf

Autonomous sensor based path planner for rovers_icra99.pdf

Coordinated Athlete Lift.wmv

Manuscript for MDP & RL

A brief guide to writing a scientific paper

Academic Integrity & Plegarism:

(Based on the sample statement provided at Written by Dr. Alex Brodsky.)

Please familiarize yourself with the university policy on Intellectual Honesty. Every suspected case will be reported.

At Dalhousie University, we respect the values of academic integrity: honesty, trust, fairness, responsibility and respect. As a student, adherence to the values of academic integrity and related policies is a requirement of being part of the academic community at Dalhousie University.


What does academic integrity mean?

Academic integrity means being honest in the fulfillment of your academic responsibilities thus establishing mutual trust. Fairness is essential to the interactions of the academic community and is achieved through respect for the opinions and ideas of others. Violations of intellectual honesty are offensive to the entire academic community, not just to the individual faculty member and students in whose class an offence occurs. (see Intellectual Honesty section of University Calendar)


How can you achieve academic integrity?

• Make sure you understand Dalhousies policies on academic integrity.

• Give appropriate credit to the sources used in your assignment such as written or oral work, com- puter codes/programs, artistic or architectural works, scientific projects, performances, web page designs, graphical representations, diagrams, videos, and images. Use RefWorks to keep track of your research and edit and format bibliographies in the citation style required by the instructor (

• Do not download the work of another from the Internet and submit it as your own.

• Do not submit work that has been completed through collaboration or previously submitted for another assignment without permission from your instructor. • Do not write an examination or test for someone else.

• Do not falsify data or lab results.

These examples should be considered only as a guide and not an exhaustive list.


What will happen if an allegation of an academic offence is made against you?

I am required to report a suspected offence. The full process is outlined in the Discipline flow chart, which can be found at: and in- cludes the following:

1. Each Faculty has an Academic Integrity Officer (AIO) who receives allegations from instructors.

2. The AIO decides whether to proceed with the allegation and you will be notified of the process.

3. If the case proceeds, you will receive an INC (incomplete) grade until the matter is resolved.

4. If you are found guilty of an academic offence, a penalty will be assigned ranging from a warning to a suspension or expulsion from the University and can include a notation on your transcript, failure of the assignment or failure of the course. All penalties are academic in nature.


Where can you turn for help?

• If you are ever unsure about ANYTHING, contact myself.

• The Academic Integrity website ( has links to policies, defini tions, online tutorials, tips on citing and paraphrasing.

• The Writing Center provides assistance with proofreading, writing styles, citations.

• Dalhousie Libraries have workshops, online tutorials, citation guides, Assignment Calculator, Ref- Works, etc.

• The Dalhousie Student Advocacy Service assists students with academic appeals and student discipline procedures.

• The Senate Office provides links to a list of Academic Integrity Officers, discipline flow chart, and Senate Discipline Committee.