Cosi119a FAQ

  • What do we learn? You will become very knowledgable about mobile robotics in general and the Robot Operating System (ROS) in particular. Mobile Robotics is a very hot and interesting area (the Boston area is the silicon valley of robotics). It is the area of robotics that deals with robots that move around. (For example, the ones that build cars don’t move around, but the ones that deliver packages do.) The problems of Mobile Robotics are: Localization (where am I), Navigation (how do I get to where I need to be), Planning and operation (how do I do what I need to do.) We will tackle each of these in the class.

  • What are there prerequisites? We require that you have completed and done well in Cosi21a and that you have completed at least one additional Cosi course successfully. While we work in Python, if you are good in Java or Ruby or some other language that is acceptable. Mostly you need to be very comfortable programming because the expecations and challenges are significant.

  • When, where and how? The class meets once a week, Tuesdays from 9 to 11:50. Attendance for the whole duration is mandatory. There will be a maximum of 15 students. It will feel more like a lab or a startup than a class. Most of the work and learning will happen in the lab at other times. You should assume a minumum of 15 hours per week. A lot of self-study, independent work, self-management.

  • How does the class work? The first several weeks we learn how to program our Robots with ROS, the Robot Operating System. There will be a lot of hands-on coding and experimenting during that period. Then we start iterating on a weekly basis working from Trello cards describing sub projects. You will be working alone or in teams which form and reform. The team gets to figure out just how to achieve that goal. We have weekly discussions where each team is required to demonstrate what they built last week, and each team proposes their plan and demo for the next week. A kind of modified scrum.

  • What is the Robotics Lab? We have a Robot lab where we will hold the class, and that you will have access to 24x7. It is where the Robots live so if you need to do live testing that’s where you will do it. The lab is in the basement of GZang. Go go GZang 124 and keep walking to the glass door. The Robotics Lab is down there.

  • What language do we work in? What is ROS? ROS is a very cool distributed operating system that runs on as a layer top of Linux. It’s pretty complicated and we will be spending a lot of time with it. Our programming will mostly be in Python although C++ is also there if you prefer it. It is by far the most common environment for robotics software used in academia and the commercial world. In case you end up working with Robots in the future you can almost count on it being with ROS.