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The Use Of Matlab For Robotic Control In An Undergraduate Robotics Laboratory

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Computers in Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1193.1 - 7.1193.8



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Paper Authors

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Jenelle Piepmeier

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Kenneth Knowles

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Bradley Bishop

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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Session XXXX

The Use of MATLAB for Robotic Control in an Undergraduate Robotics Laboratory Jenelle Armstrong Piepmeier, Kenneth A. Knowles, Bradley E. Bishop U.S. Naval Academy 105 Maryland Ave (Stop 14A) Annapolis, MD 21402


An effective undergraduate robotics course will have strongly coupled laboratory and classroom components. It is important that the students experience the application of classroom theory. Often, this application is transparent when using the vendor supplied programming environments. For example, Cartesian move commands will move the robot to a desired point in the workspace without a need for explicit solution of the inverse kinematics problem by the student. Programming environments such as MATLAB, Maple, or C\C++ have long provided an ideal simulation environment for studying kinematic or dynamic robotic models. Environments such as MATLAB are especially ideal for engineering students with limited programming expertise. By taking advantage of the serial port capabilities in MATLAB’s Release 12 and later versions, along with the ability to compile existing C\C++ code under the MATLAB shell, the instructor can devise assignments that allow the student to easily model and control robotic systems in the MATLAB environment. This paper discusses two approaches and representative laboratory assignments.


Robotic textbooks such as those by Niku [5], Spong [6], and Craig [1] present common topics such as transformations, inverse and forward kinematics, Jacobians, manipulator dynamics, and trajectory generation. Additional topics include control, sensors, vision, and artificial intelligence. The degree to which each of these topics is covered in a course depends on the level of the students and the departmental emphasis (electrical, mechanical, or computer science). Problem sets at the end of each chapter typically assign problems that are worked by hand. Craig [1] includes programming assignments such as software generation of forward or inverse kinematic function s. Few suggestions are given for laboratory exercises in any of these standard textbooks, primarily due to the wide variance in laboratory equipment and protocols typical in robotics education. Common assignments such as the Towers of Hanoi focus on algorithm flow, while other standard labs focus on behavior or path planning. These are all easily implemented using vendor supplied move commands.

A shortcoming in these common laboratory strategies is that they do not build on the introductory material that is emphasized in the classroom. This paper presents methods for utilizing the capabilities of MATLAB to quickly engage undergraduate students in an introductory robotics course. In order for us to adequately discuss these methods, Section II addresses t he curriculum into

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Piepmeier, J., & Knowles, K., & Bishop, B. (2002, June), The Use Of Matlab For Robotic Control In An Undergraduate Robotics Laboratory Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10576

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