Intro to Robotics (2 point, 7-weeks)
Instructor: Rodolfo Cossovich

Lecture Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays  9:45am ~ 11:30am
Office hours:  Sign up here or email me if you need other time slot


Since the beginning of civilization people have fantasized about intelligent machines sensing and acting autonomously. In this course we will discover what robots are, learn how to design them, and use simple tools to build them. Students will use open source hardware to explore sensors and electronics, as well as design and build robot bodies and actuators through a variety of digital fabrication technologies. Using a set of community developed tools, students will become familiar with concepts such as mechatronics, inverse kinematics, domotics and machine learning.

No previous programming or electronics experience is necessary, however students will be guided through a series of design challenges that their robots should be able to accomplish. With an emphasis on experimentation, peer learning, and team work, the objective of this course is to share in the excitement of robotics by enabling students to make their own creations.


  • Week 1: Introduction. Robot as a concept. Electrical Parameters. Electronics, software and mechanical structures. DC Motors, drivers and H-bridges.
  • Week 2: Industrial applications. Sensors & Actuators. Analog/Digital Conversion. PWM and analog outputs. Common sensors used in robotics: ultrasound, light & infrared.
  • Week 3: Service applications. Mechatronics and degrees of freedom. Feedback loops. Filters. P.I.D. Servomotors. Software documentation. 
  • Week 4: Cloud robotics & other applications of connected robots. Telecommunication. Sketching. Mechanical construction techniques: laser cutting, 3D printing. Mechanical analysis: Center of mass & stability. Projects drafts concepts.
  • Week 5:. Social robotics. Subsumption & behavioral programming.
  • Week 6: Special applications.  Finite states machines & AI introduction. 
  • Week 7: Final projects. Design presentations.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this course students will be able to demonstrate basic understanding of:

  • what is a robot, how are they being used and which applications can they have
  • robot design, including electronics, software and mechatronics
  • difficulties and obstacles to overcome when assembling a a technical project


Grades will be determined based on the following breakdown:

  • 20% Attendance and Participation
  • 20% Assignments
  • 20% Deliverables
  • 40% Final project and presentation

Grading Criteria

A: Excellent performance showing a thorough knowledge and understanding of the topics of the course; all work includes clear, logical explanations, insight, and original thought and reasoning.
B: Good performance with general knowledge and understanding of the topics; all work includes general analysis and coherent explanations showing some independent reasoning, reading and research.
C: Satisfactory performance with some broad explanation and reasoning; the work will typically demonstrate an understanding of the course on a basic level.
D: Passable performance showing a general and superficial understanding of the course’s topics; work lacks satisfactory insight, analysis or reasoned explanations.
F: Unsatisfactory performance in all assessed criteria.

Classroom Conduct

Classes begin promptly at the scheduled start time. Please arrive early so as not to be late. This class will be highly participatory with lectures being very conversational. You are invited and expected to contribute to in-class discussions.

Recreational use of phones, music players, video game systems and other portable electronic devices is forbidden. Laptops are allowed for note taking, in class work, as well as relevant research only. Activities not related to the class, such as recreational browsing of the internet, including all social media websites, email and instant messaging, game playing, and work for other classes, will not be permitted. Such activities are disrespectful to the instructor and distracting to others. Your laptop should always be closed whenever a fellow student is presenting.


This course requires the use of equipment from the IMA Equipment Room. Some of them are not in our ER system. Policies and procedures for checking out, caring for, and returning equipment will be discussed during IMA Orientation as well as in class.

Keeping IMA equipment past due dates, abusing the equipment or failing to adhere to the policies of the IMA Lab will affect your grade in this course.

Academic Integrity

The presentation of another person’s words, ideas, judgment, images or data as though they were your own, whether intentionally or unintentionally, constitutes an act of plagiarism.  Students must retain an electronic copy of their work until final grades are posted on Albert. They must be prepared to supply an electronic copy if requested to do so by NYU Shanghai. Not submitting a copy of their work upon request will result in automatic failure in the assignment and possible failure in the class.

Attendance & Participation

Attendance in all class sessions is mandatory. Unexcused absences or lateness will adversely affect your grade. NYU policy does permit members of any religious group to absent themselves from classes without penalty when required for compliance with their religious obligations. If you are going to miss a class, it is your responsibility to make up the material you miss. Please let the instructor know ahead of time so that he/she can help you determine how to make up the material.

Your participation in this class is essential. Not only does it allow the instructor to gauge your interests and get to know you as an individual, but it also allows the instructor to asses your understanding of important concepts. It also provides the instructor with an opportunity to learn from your work. As a result, attendance and participation make up a meaningful percentage of your grade. Unexcused absence in more than three classes and / or labs will result in a failing grade.

Moses Center Statement of Disability

If you are student with a disability who is requesting accommodations, please contact New York University’s Moses Center for Students with Disabilities at 212-998-4980 or You must be registered with CSD to receive accommodations. Information about the Moses Center can be found at

Optional bibliography:

Make an Arduino-Controlled Robot

Autonomous and Remote-Controlled Bots on Wheels

By Michael Margolis

Publisher: Maker Media, Inc

Final Release Date: October 2012

Pages: 256

Paperback edition:

Online version:

Other optional media materials: