UCLA Extension

Robotic Systems Design and Engineering

This course provides the fundamentals for the design and development of advanced robotic systems for industrial and space applications. Emphasis is on the basic skills required to understand the multidisciplinary nature of robotic systems, including system design, feedback control systems, vision-based control, and autonomy. Gain an appreciation for the many facets of robotic systems and obtain detailed knowledge of the techniques needed to develop and implement manipulation and semi-autonomous/autonomous robotic systems. Driven by the need to develop robust robotic systems that can operate with minimal interaction from a supervisory user, the course also emphasizes requirements for autonomous operation.

Complete Details

Upon completing the course, you should be able to apply new knowledge of robotic system design and engineering to autonomous and robust operations of robotic systems and controls for industrial, military, and space systems.

The course is intended for engineers, managers, and other professionals who specify, design, and develop industrial automation systems and seek further understanding of the state-of-the-art in advanced robotic system design and control. Lectures are based on real-world system applications, including practical implementation approaches.

Major Topics

  • Manipulator kinematics and dynamics
  • Closed-loop control for robotic systems
  • Mobile robots
  • Vision techniques for robotics
  • Building robotic systems
  • Autonomous systems

Course Materials

Lecture notes are distributed on the first day of the course. These notes are for participants only and are not otherwise available for sale or unauthorized distribution.

Coordinator and Lecturer

Terrance L. Huntsberger, PhD, Principal Member of Research Staff, Autonomous Systems Division, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California; and Adjunct Full Professor, University of South Carolina, Columbia. Dr. Huntsberger’s research interests include machine vision, behavior-based robotic control, wavelet-based image analysis, and autonomy algorithms for unmanned ground, sea surface, and underwater vehicles. He has produced over 140 technical publications in these and related areas. Previously, Dr. Huntsberger was a faculty member and director of the Intelligent Systems Laboratory in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Carolina.

Dr. Huntsberger has received four ICB (Inventions and Contributions Board) Awards from NASA HQ for his work on distributed control systems for autonomous robotic systems, autonomous instrument placement for planetary surface rovers, and sun sensor design for localization of planetary surface rovers. He served as a MER (Mars Exploration Rover) driver from 2005-2007 and is currently supporting the analysis of the daily downlink feeds from MER. He holds a patent on a 360-Degree Non-Rotating Imaging System periscope design. He was a member of the FIDO rover team that received two NASA HQ Team Awards for their field training of the MER Science Team. He holds 26 NPOs (NASA Public Offerings) for developed technology. He is a reviewer for the National Science Foundation; IEEE Transactions on Neural NetworksIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man & CyberneticsAutonomous RobotsJournal of Robotics and Autonomous SystemsFuzzy Sets & SystemsPattern Recognition LettersIEEE Transactions on Robotics & AutomationJournal of Field RoboticsJournal of Adaptive Behavior; and International Journal of Computer Vision. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE; and a Member of SPIE, ACM, and INNS.


Brett Kennedy, MSME, Supervisor, Robotic Vehicles and Manipulators, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California. Mr. Kennedy’s areas of expertise include space robotics, novel mobility systems, robotic manipulators, underactuated grippers, and bio-inspired robotics. At JPL he has divided his time between research and space flight robotics. On the research front, he conceived and led the development of the bio-inspired Lemur series of robots as well as acting as the lead mechanical engineer for JPL’s Tactical Mobile Robot (TMR) program, the Exploration Technology Rover (FIDO), and the All-Terrain Explorer tasks, among others. He also has acted as the lead robotic engineer on several DARPA studies of subjects such as orbital telescopes and humanoid robotic mobility.

On the flight side, Mr. Kennedy was responsible for two elements of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) chassis and he is currently responsible for the design, fabrication, and testing of the robotic arm for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, which is due to land in August of 2012. Visit the following websites for more information on Mr. Kennedy’s work and these specific projects:


Daily Schedule

Day 1


Manipulator Kinematics and Dynamics for Robotic Systems

  • Forward kinematics for manipulators
  • Inverse kinematics for manipulators
  • Manipulator dynamics
  • Manipulator Jacobian
  • Aerial vehicle dynamics

Closed-Loop Control for Robotic Systems

  • Actuator control
  • Trajectory generation and control
  • Force feedback and control
  • Teach-repeat techniques
  • Dynamic Vehicle Control
  • System Identification

Day 2

Mobile Robots

  • Kinematics of non-holonomic robots
  • Path planning and path tracking
  • Sensors for mobile robots
  • State estimation techniques

Vision Techniques for Robotics

  • Feature matching
  • Feature tracking
  • Image mosaic techniques
  • Wavelet techniques
  • Camera modeling
  • Stereo systems

Day 3

Building Robotic Systems

  • Mechanical hardware
  • Actuation systems
  • Embedded computing platforms
  • Motion control systems
  • Robot software requirements
  • Robotic system examples

Autonomous Systems
(Huntsberger and Kennedy)

  • Telemanipulation and telerobotics
  • Vision-based manipulation for 2D and 3D applications
  • Mobile manipulators
  • Planetary rovers
  • Autonomous vehicle navigation
  • Planetary aerobots

For more information contact the Short Course Program Office:
shortcourses@uclaextension.edu | (310) 825-3344 | fax (310) 206-2815