Lecture 1 | Introduction to Robotics | Summary and Q&A

July 22, 2008
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Lecture 1 | Introduction to Robotics

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This video is a lecture from the Stanford Center for Professional Development on the foundations of robotics. The speaker covers topics such as the need for sensors, kinematic modeling, dynamics, control, and advanced topics in robotics. The lecture also explores the evolution of robotics and the various applications of robotics in different fields.

Questions & Answers

Q: How can we determine the location of a robot?

One way to determine the location of a robot is by using GPS, but GPS can only provide X and Y coordinates. Another option is to use encoders that measure the angle of rotation, but this only gives relative positions. To determine the exact location, vision systems or differential navigation can be used.

Q: What is the kinematic model?

The kinematic model represents the relationship between the different rigid bodies of a robot. It helps determine the position and orientation of different parts of the robot, such as the hands and head. This model is important for controlling the robot's movements.

Q: How do we control a robot's movements?

One way to control a robot is through forward kinematics and inverse kinematics. Forward kinematics helps determine the position of the hand, while inverse kinematics helps determine the joint angles needed to achieve a desired hand position. By solving the inverse kinematics problem, the robot can be controlled to move to the desired position.

Q: What are the challenges in controlling a robot with multiple degrees of freedom?

Controlling a robot with multiple degrees of freedom becomes more difficult because of redundancy. There are multiple solutions to achieve a desired end effector position, and there can be infinite ways to reach that position. Finding a solution and avoiding collisions or obstacles becomes more complex.

Q: How does robotics relate to haptics?

Haptics is the sense of touch, and robotics has applications in haptic interaction. Through haptic devices or master devices, humans can control robots remotely or interact with physical environments. Haptic devices enable the exploration of physical worlds that cannot be physically touched, like the atomic level.

Q: How are robots becoming more human-like?

Robotics is evolving to create robots that resemble humans and can perform tasks similar to humans. Examples include robots assisting surgeons during operations, exoskeleton systems that enhance human strength, and robots that mimic human behavior and motion. The development of human-like robots opens up new possibilities in various fields.

Q: What are the challenges in making robots work effectively in the human environment?

When robots are introduced into the human environment, safety becomes a major concern. The interaction between humans and robots must be carefully managed to avoid any potential harm. The development of safe and flexible structures for robots is crucial in ensuring their effectiveness and acceptance in the human environment.

Q: How do you describe the dynamics of a robot?

The dynamics of a robot involve understanding how forces and torques affect the robot's motion. By analyzing the relationship between forces, masses, and accelerations, the dynamics of the robot can be described. The Jacobian plays an important role in connecting forces and accelerations.

Q: How can contact forces be controlled in robotics?

Controlling contact forces is important when the robot is interacting with its environment. By using force control techniques, the robot can stabilize the transition from free space to contact space. The Jacobian can be used to relate forces applied at the end effector to the resulting acceleration and ensure controlled contact with the environment.

Q: How can motion planning be achieved in robotics?

Motion planning in robotics involves creating trajectories or paths for the robot's motion. Reactive planning techniques can be used to modify trajectories in real-time based on obstacles or changes in the environment. By applying the concept of repulsive potential energy, the robot can navigate around obstacles and efficiently reach its goal.

Q: What is the potential of digital modeling in robotics?

Digital modeling of humans allows for the replication of human motion and the learning of human behaviors. Motion capture technology can be used to capture human motion and transfer it to robots. This enables the creation of more natural and human-like movements in robots, as well as a better understanding of human motion for research and applications.


This lecture provides a comprehensive overview of the foundations of robotics. It covers topics ranging from sensor technology and kinematic modeling to dynamics, control, and advanced topics. The evolution of robotics and its applications in various fields are also explored. Understanding the kinematics and dynamics of robots is essential for effective control and planning of robot motions. The use of force control and contact planning enables safe and efficient interaction with the environment. Digital modeling allows for the replication of human motion and learning from human behaviors. Overall, robotics continues to advance and get closer to humans, opening up exciting possibilities and challenges in various domains.

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