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The University of Southampton

ELEC3201 Robotic Systems

Module Overview

Robots are becoming more widely used in society, with applications ranging from agriculture through to manufacturing, with increasing interest in autonomous systems. This module will introduce students to the fundamentals of robotic systems including kinematics and dynamics as applied to manipulators and mobile robots. To support many application sensors are required, the module will discuss tactile and vision sensing as applied to both fixed and mobile robots. The design and control of multifingered end effectors will be considered in detail. The module will conclude with a study on how biological systems have influenced the development of current and future robotic systems, including swarms and humanoid robotic systems.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Be able to identify the limitations of a robot (either mobile or static), together with its end effectors and sensors, when applied to a specific environment or task
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse the kinematics of a robot and its associated control system
  • Describe the operation and application of a range of sensors (e.g. vision, tactile) and how they can be applied to a mobile or static robot system
  • Appreciate the relevance of the biology-robotic interface and how it can benefit both the understanding of biological systems and the design of individual or groups of robots
  • Develop control algorithms for individual robots or robot swarms, to undertake simple tasks such as foraging.


Introduction - Definition of robotic systems, including an overview of manufacturing systems, biologically inspired robotics, medical applications, and space applications. Manipulators - Classification of types of robot - Identification of manipulator components and terminology - Joints classification - Mobile robot platforms. Kinematics - Axis transformations as applied to robotics - Application and definition of the DH matrix - Forward and reverse kinematics - Introduction to Jacobian and dynamic performance - Path generation - Definition of workspace. Teleoperation - Master-slave systems - Supervisory control - Latency problems. Robotic end effectors - Characteristic of the human hand - Underactuated systems - Stable grip - Constraints - Types of contact - Mathematical representation of stable grip - Use of screw twist, and wrench gripper design. Tactile Sensors - Construction of tactile and touch sensors - Interpretation of sensory information - Use of sensory data to determine kinematic information - Peg into hole problem - Contacts - RCC and IRCC systems. Vision Systems - Computer vision - Sobal operator - Perception - Optical flow - Road car - Quad-copter navigation Biologically inspired robotics - Bio-inspired morphologies - Sensors and actuators - What is intelligence - Reactive and deliberative control - Learning - SLAM - Behaviours - Multi-robot and swarm systems

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

All students will be provided with a hard copy of the lectured material. A number of tutoral sessions will be provide, particularly to cover the kinematic and control aspects of the module.

Follow-up work26
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Wider reading or practice56
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Craig J J (1993). Introduction to Robotics, Mechanics and Control. 

McKerrow P J (1993). Introduction to Robotics. 

Schilling R J (1990). Fundamentals of Robotics - Analysis & Control. 

Fu K, Gonzalez R and Lee C. Robotics (Control Sensing Vision & Intelligence). 



MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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