CS380: Recent Advances in Computer Science: Developmental Robotics, Bryn Mawr College

Douglas Blank
Spring 2009


This course will focus on developmental robotics, a newly emerging paradigm of research, with the goal of creating intelligent robots through a developmental processes, rather than direct programming. The idea is that by endowing a robot with initial control architecture and adaptive mechanisms, it learns through interactions with the world, developing self-organized mental structures. Key questions include: What should be innate in the robot? What adaptive mechanisms are needed? What motivates the robot to act? Would such a system need emotions? The course includes seminar discussions and laboratory work.

This semester we will be exploring artificial intelligence, learning, and evolutionary systems in connection to the ideas behind developmental robotics.

General Information

Course URL: cs.brynmawr.edu/Courses/cs380/spring2009
Instructor: Douglas Blank, 248 Park Science Building, 526-6501
Email: dblank (at) cs (dot) brynmawr (dot) edu
Web: cs.brynmawr.edu/~dblank
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday, 1-2pm and by appointment
Course Meetings: Tues and Thursdays, 10-11:30am
Lab: Park Science Building, room 349
Lab Assistants: TBA


We will be reading a collection of papers this semester. The complete reading list will appear here.

Russell & Norvig, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (AI:AMA). Selected Chapters.


We will use the Python Robotics system, an open source framework for doing robotics experiments in Python. Pyro is available on the Computer Science Linux machines. You will get an account if you don't have one already.

We will also being using Tekkotsu, a programming system for exploring advanced robotics control.

Finally, we will also be exploring Microsoft's Robotics Development Studio, an advanced system for writing robotics programs.

Schedule (approximate weeks, schedule may change)

Read Russell and Norvig
1 Tue 01/20/2009, Thu 01/22/2009IntroductionWrite a short essay: "Can robots do things that you didn't program them to do?"
2 Tue 01/27/2009, Thu 01/29/2009Artificial Intelligence: SearchRead Chapter 3, AI:AMA. Do Part 1 for next Tuesday.
3 Tue 02/03/2009, Thu 02/05/2009Breadth, Depth, and Heuristic SearchesRead Chapter 4, AI:AMA. Do Part 2 for next Tuesday.
4 Tue 02/10/2009, Thu 02/12/2009Evolutionary SystemsRead Pyro Module on Evolutionary Algorithms for Thursday
5 Tue 02/17/2009, Thu 02/19/2009Robots and Neural NetworksRead Emergence of Communication and answer the 10 questions in the Additional exercises
6 Tue 02/24/2009, Thu 02/26/2009Robots and Neural Networks
7 Tue 03/03/2009, Thu 03/05/2009Neural + Evolution
8 Tue 03/10/2009, Thu 03/12/2009Spring Break! No classes
9 Tue 03/17/2009, Thu 03/19/2009Project Proposals Due
10 Tue 03/24/2009, Thu 03/26/2009Humanoid robots
11 Tue 03/31/2009, Thu 04/02/2009Tekkotsu: vision pipeline
12 Tue 04/07/2009, Thu 04/09/2009Tekkotsu: control
13 Tue 04/14/2009, Thu 04/16/2009Behaviors
14 Tue 04/21/2009, Thu 04/23/2009Developmental systems
15 Tue 04/28/2009, Thu 04/30/2009Presentations

Other dates of interest in Spring 2009:

Sunday, January 18 Deferred Examinations
Monday, January 19 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Classes begin at Swarthmore College.
Tuesday, January 20 Classes begin at at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges.
Friday, January 23 Bryn Mawr College Monday only classes meet.
Tues and Wed, January 27 and 28 Confirmation of Registration for upper class students.
Friday, February 6 Final day to drop HC or BMC class without penalty
Friday, February 27 Last day to declare Credit/No Credit Option--closes at 5:00 pm
Friday, March 6 First half semester classes end.
Friday, March 6 Spring Vacation begins after last class.
Monday, March 16 Spring Vacation ends--Classes resume at 8:00 am.
Monday, March 16 Second half semester classes begin.
Monday, April 13 Semester I 2008-2009 registration begins.
Friday, April 17 Semester I 2008-2009 registration closes.
Friday, May 1 Last day of classes--All written work due 5:00 pm (including papers and lab notes).
Saturday, May 2 Review Period begins.
Tuesday, May 5 Review Period ends.
Wednesday, May 6 Examination Period begins.
Saturday, May 9 Senior Examination Period ends 5:00 pm.
Monday, May 11 Senior grades due 12 noon
Friday, May 15 Examination Period ends--All work due by 12:30 pm
Sunday, May 17 Commencement
Friday, May 22 All grades due 12 noon


Final grades will be calculated as a weighted average of all grades according to the following weights:

Written work: 50%
Class participation: 25%
Project: 25%

dblank (at) cs (dot) brynmawr (dot) edu