Introduction to Robotics

Jeremy Gottlieb: Author
David Leech Anderson: Author


This module gives an easily accessible introduction to robotics assuming no previous knowledge of the subject. It includes text, images, and videos as well as three complete virtual robotics labs where the user creates, programs and tests virtual versions of real robots. This module also introduces the exciting field of robotics in medicine covering artificial limbs and other robotic augmentation, research, surgery, and hospital navigation. Learn about two fundamentally different robot architectures while at the same time exploring some of the exciting breakthroughs that have been made in applying robotics to the medical sphere. The Mind Project has also developed inexpensive physical robots to give students hands-on experience in the classroom. (Our designs and building instructions are provided.)


I. Introduction to Robotics

This section uses text, images, and videos to give a brief overview of essential types and features of robots.

A. Robots: In the Beginning
B. Kinds of Robots
C. Parts of a Robot

II. Virtual Robotics Labs

We have built three virtual labs allowing users to build and program three different types of robots. One of the three labs is a Flash animation which can be played if you are able to download a stand alone Flash player. If not, there is a video version of the lab where you can watch someone else navigating through the lab.

A. Classic ("Top-Down") Robotics
B. Behavior-Based ("Bottom-Up") Robotics
C. Is the Human Control System "Top-Down" or "Bottom-Up"?

III. Physical Robots

The Mind Project has worked with other robot developers and designed two physical robots for use in the classroom that complement the online curriculum and the virtual robotics labs found in sections I.- II. above. While we are no longer able to offer support for these physical robots we do think it is helpful to see what hight school and undergraduate students have built and programmed using the principles used in this online curriculum.

A. Iris1 (An example of a "Top-Down" robot)
B. Bugbots (An example of a "Bottom-Up" robot)


This module was supported by National Science Foundation Grants #9981217 and #0127561 and a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) #R25RR020425, supported by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).