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Robotics: Kinematics and Mathematical Foundations

Provided by University of Pennsylvania (PennX)
8–10 hours
per week, for 12 weeks

$349 USD for graded exams and assignments, plus a certificate

Master the foundational math concepts that drive robotics and put them into practice using MATLAB.

Before you start

  • College-level algebra and trigonometry (matrices, vectors)
  • Fundamentals of calculus (derivatives, partial derivatives)
  • Basic knowledge of computer programming (variables, functions, control flow, some knowledge of graphs)
Course opens: Apr 17, 2017
Course ends: Feb 2, 2020

What you will learn

  • How to describe, analyze and think critically about fundamental problems in robotics, such as how to change the position or configuration of a robot
  • The role of mathematics in describing robotic arms, mobile robots and other robotic platforms
  • How to use the industry standard programming environment, MATLAB

Math Fundamentals
Week 1: Vector spaces, inner products, vector norms, orthogonality
Week 2: Linear transformations, matrix multiplication, matrix groups
Week 3: Coordinate transformations, rigid transformations, rotation matrices quaternions, Matrix groups SE(2) and SE(3)
Week 4: Project

Robot Kinematics
Week 5: Kinematic chains, forward kinematics,
Week 6: Inverse kinematics
Week 7: Parallel mechanisms
Week 8: Project

Kinematic Path Planning
Week 9: Graph based methods, Dijkstra’s method, A*Star
Week 10: RRT, configuration space
Week 11: Artificial potential fields
Week 12: Project


Welcome to the first course in the Robotics MicroMasters series. This is an advanced course designed for learners who have a bachelor's degree in engineering or a similar field.

Learners will succeed in this course if they have familiarity with basic operations on matrices and vectors, as well as exposure to derivatives and partial derivatives.

The fundamental challenge this course addresses is how one can create robots that operate well in the real world.

Meet your instructors

Camillo J. Taylor
Professor, Computer and Information Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Pennsylvania
Mark Yim
Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, School of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Pennsylvania

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

View Courses
This course is part of:

Earn a MicroMasters® Program Certificate in 1 year if courses are taken one at a time.

View the program
  1. Robotics: Kinematics and Mathematical Foundations
  2. 96–120 hours of effort

    Learn how to design robot vision systems that avoid collisions, safely work with humans and understand their environment.

  3. 96–120 hours of effort

    Learn how to design and engineer complex, dynamic robotic systems.

  4. 96–120 hours of effort

    Learn how to design, build, and program dynamical, legged robots that can operate in the real world.

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