CS 395T: Intelligent Robotics


The focus of this course will be on the Intelligent Wheelchair. Some of the relevant questions are: Start early to understand the problem: More details below!


This is a research seminar, intended first to bring you to the state of the art, and then to help you do a term project and write a paper of publishable quality at AAAI, ICRA, IROS or some other major conference. There will be a significant amount of reading and discussion of recent research papers that will be handed out.

The requirements of the course will be:

The focus of the course will be on the intelligent robotics and human-robot interface challenges related to the Intelligent Wheelchair. You are strongly encouraged to select a project topic in that area. Select a topic that fits well with your background and with your other research interests.

Project Topics

The Intelligent Wheelchair is an intelligent robot, sensing and learning about the environment it travels in. This role leads to one set of problems, related to how knowledge of the environment is represented, learned, stored, retrieved, and used. The Intelligent Wheelchair is also a mobility aid for a human driver, able to act autonomously, but always subordinated to the human driver. This leads to a second set of problems, related to how the human-robot interface can increase the human driver's autonomy while performing a necessary service. You will pick a project topic from one of these two sets.

See the Project Topics Addendum for the specific set of project topics from which you may choose, and suggested starting points for your search for relevant literature.

Class Presentations

Each student will make a presentation to the class on the background readings relevant to their term project topic. This should be a summary of existing work, evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses, a synthesis of the valuable parts that the term project can build on, and a clear definition of the remaining problem(s) to be solved. Essentially, it's the literature review for your term project.

The presenter is responsible for finding and reading additional material, becoming an expert in the area, creating an illuminating example to present, and leading a discussion. Many papers are available through the UT Library or elsewhere on the Web. Others I can help you find.)

If possible, identify a paper for the whole class to read before the presentation, to be up to speed on the topic. (Make it available at least a week before your presentation. Ideally, this would be a good review article or tutorial that provides good background for everyone. But a particularly good individual research report can also illustrate how things are done in this area.

Be prepared to give a 45 minute presentation, followed by specific questions and more general discussion of the value and importance of the material presented.

Here is a thematic outline. You don't need to cover the points in exactly this order, but try to address these needs for your audience.

Prepare PowerPoint slides for your presentation. Send me a copy of your slides two or three days before your presentation, and I will give you feedback as quickly as I can. Make copies of your slides (4-6 slides per page) to hand out to the class before your presentation.

Readings and Textbooks

Most of the readings will be technical papers, which will be provided.

Our own approach to robot exploration and spatial mapping is described in

The required reference text is: This will be used as a reference, rather than as a textbook, but we will use quite a few methods from it, and it is a valuable addition to your professional library.

Valuable books for your library

The following are useful books that would be valuable to have in your professional library, and that are related to this course. If you do not already have a background in Artificial Intelligence, the following excellent textbook would be another valuable addition to your library, and is undoubtedly available used. Some assignments and projects may be best done in a high-level programming environment such as R, MATLAB, or LabVIEW. Make sure you have any documentation you need.

The Computer Science Department has a Code of Conduct that describes the obligations of faculty and students. Read it at http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/ear/CodeOfConduct.html.