UCSB “Introduction to Robotics: Planning and Kinematics”
ME/ECE 179P, Fall 2014
Instructor: Stephen L. Smith

This is the website for the UCSB course ME / ECE 179P “Introduction to Robotics: Planning and Kinematics”, Fall 2014.

Piazza Course page: https://piazza.com/ucsb/fall2014/meece179p/home


Motion planning and kinematics topics with an emphasis on geometric reasoning, programming and matrix computations. Motion planning: configuration spaces, sensor-based planning, decomposition and sampling methods, and advanced planning algorithms. Kinematics: reference frames, rotations and displacements, kinematic motion models.

Course Learning Outcomes

  • An ability to apply knowledge of geometry, graph algorithms and linear algebra to robotic systems

  • An ability to use a numerical computing environment, such as MATLAB, to solve engineering problems

  • An ability to formulate and solve planning problems in robotics

  • An ability to formulate and solve kinematics problems in robotics


Eng 3 and either ME 17 or ECE 130C (concurrent enrollment is allowed).

Knowledge of basic concepts in matrix theory (matrix multiplication, traces, determinants, eigenvalues), differential equations, and familiarity with MATLAB programming.

Lecture Time and Place

Tuesday and Thursday 6:00 - 7:15pm, Engineering Building II, room 2243

Final Exam

  • Time: Wednesday December 17, 2014 from 7:30 - 10:30pm.

  • Place: Engineering Building II, Room 2243

Course credit

Units: 4, including 3 units of lecture, 1 unit of computer lab per week


Weekly lecture notes are available in pdf format. Warning: the lecture notes may be updated during the course. I will inform you when a new version of the notes is available.


Professor Stephen L. Smith
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Waterloo, Canada

Visiting Professor at UC Santa Barbara for Fall 2014

Email: stephen.smith@uwaterloo.ca
Website: https://ece.uwaterloo.ca/~sl2smith/

Office hours

Place: Room 2328, Engineering Bldg II
Time: Thursday, 5-6pm. Or, just send me an email to set up a time.

We will be using Piazza for class discussion. The system is highly catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates, and myself. Rather than emailing questions to me, I encourage you to post your questions on Piazza.

Find our class page at: https://piazza.com/ucsb/fall2014/meece179p/home

If you plan to come to office hours for questions about homework, please be prepared to show attempts at solving the problem that you prepared before coming.


The grading scheme for the course is as follows

  1. Homework: 15%

  2. Projects: 15%

  3. Midterm: 35%

  4. Final: 35%

Partial credit might be given whenever the overall performance is low. If answers are not accompanied by satisfactory explanations (e.g., all intermediate steps, clearly readable handwriting), then no credit will be given.

Exams and quizzes will be closed book and closed notes. You may prepare an exam aid (cheat sheet) in your own handwriting, consisting of one, one-sided sheet (letter size, 8.5x11in) for the midterm and one, two-sided sheet for the final exam. No calculators/tablets/cellphones are allowed during the exams (they would be useless anyway).

In exceptional cases, I reserve the right to give extra points for excellent performance on the final. Please, do not count on it as a way to avoid doing homework assignments.

Homeworks due dates are by 6pm on the posted date. Paper answers will be submitted in the ME179P box near room 2243, in the Engineering Building II. Electronic submissions will be done via email. No late homework will be accepted, but as compensation, I will drop the homework with least score when computing the homework average.

Computer Access & MATLAB

You should all be be familiar with the College of Engineering computer laboratories. Some of the homework and all computer laboratory assignments will require working knowledge of MATLAB.

A MATLAB primer is available in the handout section of the course website.

Collaboration Policy

Collaboration Policy for this course & Academic Dishonesty @ Wikipedia

Copyright Policy

All course materials (class lectures and discussions, handouts, examinations, web materials) and the intellectual content of the course itself are protected by United States Federal Copyright Law, the California Civil Code. The UC Policy 102.23 expressly prohibits students (and all other persons) from recording lectures or discussions and from distributing or selling lectures notes and all other course materials without the prior written permission of the instructor (See Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline). Students are permitted to make notes solely for their own private educational use. Exceptions to accommodate students with disabilities may be granted with appropriate documentation. To be clear, in this class students are forbidden from completing study guides and selling them to any person or organization.