CS378 - Autonomous Vehicles: Driving in Traffic - Spring 2007

CS378 - Autonomous Vehicles : Driving in Traffic - Spring 2007

Instructor: Peter Stone
Department of Computer Sciences

Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 12:30-1:45pm
Place: CBA 4.344

Please complete the midterm course evaluation survey.

Yes! A major part of this course concerns the DARPA Grand Challenge 2007, or the Urban Challenge. We are teaming with Austin Robot Technology to enter the race.

Instructor Contact Information

office hours: Thursday afternoon, 4:15-5:15 by default, unless I email the class list to move it earlier.
office: TAY 4.122
phone: 471-9796
fax: 471-8885
email: pstone@cs.utexas.edu

Teaching Assistants


This course is designed explicitly to provide hands-on research experience to undergraduates of all levels, including Freshmen, who are interested in Computer Science. It will be a demanding course requiring a good deal of self-motivation and discipline. But it will also be very rewarding.

Registration is by consent of instructor. Students will be admitted with an aim of having a class that is balanced in terms of having some Freshmen, Sophmores, Juniors, and Seniors, as well as some students from outside of CS (most likely engineering).

Class Wiki

Syllabus and Text

This page serves as the syllabus for this course.
There is no textbook.

Assigned readings for 1/16: Please try to read before class on Thursday (no, there is no test/quiz, but it will give you a good idea of what the course will be like)

Another interesting article to look at:

Mailing List

Please subscribe to the class mailing list. The listname is "cs378-pstone-spr07".
Once you have subscribed to the list, you can send mail to the class at cs378-pstone-spr07@lists.cc.utexas.edu.
Important class information may be sent to this list. It is the student's responsibility to be subscribed.

Philosophy and Goal

The foremost goal of this course is to expose the student to the full range of activities required of a real-life computer science researcher. It turns out that computer scientists rarely read textbooks, sit silently in lectures, work on programming assignments with correct and complete answers, or take exams. Rather, they

Most upper-division CS students have determined that they enjoy taking CS classes (or at least that they're relatively good at it). However, this determination may not be indicative of a propensity for computer science research. This course presents an opportunity for students to help decide whether they would enjoy going on to graduate school and an eventual career as a computer science researcher. In particular, students will be required to read published research papers, participate in class discussions, propose and execute a solution to a challenging open-ended problem, and write about their work. They will collaborate with one other student on the course project.

The content of the course will be related to autonomous robotics. In order to succeed, students will need to attain a mastery of the subject. However evaluation will be based primarily on the above activities. There will be no exams.

Content Overview

The 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge proved that autonomous vehicles are currently technologically feasible. 5 cars navigated more than 100 miles in the Mojave Desert without any human control. However in that case, the cars were given pre-specified routes, and did not need to deal extensively with each other. The obvious next challenge is getting cars to drive in traffic. Indeed DARPA is hosting the 2007 Urban Challenge with exactly that focus. This course will begin with an existing autonomous vehicle that has the necessary hardware for autonomous control. The challenge of the class will be to create all the software necessary to get it to drive successfully. The class will work collaboratively on group research projects designed to accomplish this goal. Topics will include.

Content Objective

With respect to content, the goal of this course is to give the student an appreciation for the broad research topics currently being pursued in the field of autonomous agents and multiagent systems. By the end of the course, the student should be able to

The course is designed to include key activities engaged in by researchers, including generation of ideas and programs, critical oral discussion of ideas, and written evaluation and presentation of ideas.

The course is designed to present a solid entry point to the field of artificial intelligence and autonomous robotics. For those students with continued interest, it could possibly lead to subsequent research opportunities.


Teams: here

Some related links:

Course Requirements

Students are expected to be actively involved in class discussions and the collaborative class project throughout the semester. Evaluation will be based heavily on class participation and the final project and written report. Access to the autonomous vehicle will likely be concentrated in the evenings and on weekends off campus. We will help coordinate transportation to test locations, but ultimately students will be responsible for getting there when needing to test code on the vehivle.

Academic Dishonesty Policy

You are encouraged to discuss assignments with classmates. But all written work must be your own. And programming assignments must be your own except for 2-person teams on the final project. All work ideas, quotes, and code fragments that originate from elsewhere must be cited according to standard academic practice. Students caught cheating will automatically fail the course. If in doubt, look at the departmental guidelines and/or ask.

Notice about students with disabilities

The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. To determine if you qualify, please contact the Dean of Students at 471-6529; 471-4641 TTY. If they certify your needs, I will work with you to make appropriate arrangements.

Notice about missed work due to religious holy days

A student who misses an examination, work assignment, or other project due to the observance of a religious holy day will be given an opportunity to complete the work missed within a reasonable time after the absence, provided that he or she has properly notified the instructor. It is the policy of the University of Texas at Austin that the student must notify the instructor at least fourteen days prior to the classes scheduled on dates he or she will be absent to observe a religious holy day. For religious holy days that fall within the first two weeks of the semester, the notice should be given on the first day of the semester. The student will not be penalized for these excused absences, but the instructor may appropriately respond if the student fails to complete satisfactorily the missed assignment or examination within a reasonable time after the excused absence.

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