Basic Robotics

Winter, 2002

Prerequisite: CMSC 214 with a grade of C or better and permission of department. Designing, building and programming small autonomous robots in both static and dynamic environments. Students will learn the basics of robot design and programming using Lego technics and the Handyboard. Note: This course may only be taken pass/fail, does not count for upper level CS elective credits and is a 2 (TWO) credit course.


Name: James Maybury
Office: 1119 A.V. Williams
(301) 405-2672
Office Hours: by appt.

Class Meeting Times and Location:

Classes will be held on Monday thru Thursday from 10:30 to 12noon with lab class occuring on Tuesday thru Thursday from 1:30 to 2:30pm. Classes will be held in room 3258 of the A. V. Williams Building and lab will be held in room 0112 0121 of the "Garage" (building #95).

Text Books (optional):

"Mobile Robots : Inspiration to Implementation", Jones, Flynn, and Seiger, A K Peters, Ltd., © 1998.
"Introduction to AI Robotics", Murphy, The MIT Press © 2000.

Lab Fee (optional):

The CMSC department will supply all materials necessary for a student to build an autonomous robot using lego technics and the Handyboard. This material however is property of the CMSC department at all times.

Students will be given the opportunity to pay for the supplies to build their own robot that they will be permitted to keep upon completion of the course. This may range from $250 to $500. The one project in mind at the time of the writing of this webpage (6-26-01) is the following:
The parts to build the robot at the page above cost roughly $300 without the cost of the palm pilot (a used one will do). Altogether the cost for the complete robot would be around $400.

Class Webpage:

The CMSC 298M class webpage will be located at
It is your responsibility to refer to this webpage on a regular basis. In particular, class assignments will be posted on the class webpage along with any important class announcements (for example, if the University is closed due to inclement weather, instructions regarding how the class will be made up will be posted on the main class webpage - see below for more details on the specific issue of inclement weather).

Course Requirements/Grading:

Lab Assignment(s)
Robotics Project
Final Paper

Robotics Project:

There will be flexibility in the project chosen based upon the students decisions. Students may work in groups on the project or they may work individually. The instructor will provide several suggested projects however alternative suggestions will be considered.

Grading Policy:

All students must be signed up for this course pass/fail. In order to receive a passing grade, an overall average of 70% or better must be acquired. This course is intended to be a fun course, however every student will be required to participate in the Robotics Project and to submit a Final Paper, approximately 2-4 pages in length, details of which will be announced at the start of class.

Inclement Weather Policy:

In the event that the campus is closed due to snow or other reason, any class time missed will be made up (if deemed necessary by the instrutor) on one or more of the following dates: Thu., Jan. 24; Fri., Jan. 25 and Sat., Jan. 26 (these dates are determined by the University and the earliest of these dates will be used - for example, say 2 days during the winter semester are missed due to snow, the first will be made up on Thu., Jan. 24 and the second on Fri., Jan. 25 - however, suppose the University was closed on the 25th, also due to snow, then the 2nd day would be made up on the 26th - the next possible date).

Official announcements on school closing(s) will be made through the usual radio and television channels (and probably on the University's main website In the case that the University is closed for a prolonged period of time, the University has a specific Winterterm policy to address this issue (in particular students may receive a full refund of their Winterterm tuition, and all classes will be cancelled, click here for more details).

Late/Excuse Policies:

From time to time something may come up that requires you to miss, or turn in late, a course requirement. If such a time does arise, an excused absence or extension may be granted assuming proper documentation is provided. All valid documentation must indicate which days you were unable to attend classes.

If it is known in advance (to yourself) that you will be missing an assignment (due to a job interview, medical surgery, religious obligation, ...) you must notify the instructor prior to missing the course assignment (and provide written documentation to verify your absence). If you miss an assignment due to an unplanned emergency (car accident, sudden illness, ...) and are unable to notify the instructor in advance, you must notify them as soon as physically possible afterwards (by phone, e-mail, or in person).

In all cases, you must, and it is your responsibility to, provide the instructor with written verification of the event causing you to miss the course requirement in question. For clarification on documenting medical excuses please read the following:

A medical excuse consists of written verification from the Health Center, or a letter from your personal physician stating that you were incapacitated and listing exact dates of incapacitation. If you have a "Verification of Visit" form from the Health Center, you must request that the physician that treated you specifically write on it your dates of incapacitation, otherwise the excuse will not be accepted. You may have to sign a release at the Health Center in order to permit your dates of incapacitation to be listed. If the note does not state dates of incapacitation, the instructor must assume that you were not incapacitated, and therefore able to attend classes. Staying at home during an illness, even with documentation from parents, etc. (unless they are physicians), does not constitute a valid medical excuse.

Academic Honesty:

In this course you are responsible for both the University's Code of Academic Integrity and the University of Maryland Guidelines for Acceptable Use of Computing Resources.

Course Schedule/Topics:

This list may vary according to the pace of lecture topics. The following link contains a tentative calendar of project and exam deadlines.
Topics Chapter(s)
Introduction to the lab --
Basic overview of robotics 1

Additional Info:

All material on this syllabus is tentative, and given due notice to the student, the instructors reserve the right to change it at any time.

Direct questions and comments to: James Maybury
Last Modified: Thu Jan 3 10:02:05 EST 2002
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