ME 4524 - Robotics & Automation

Virginia Tech, Fall 2021
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:30-4:45pm
Lavery Hall, Room 340

ME 4584 - Robotics Laboratory

Randolph Hall, Room 7E


Robots will change the future of our society. Self-driving cars, assistive prostheses, and surgical robots are already here — what will be next? This course provides an introduction to modern robotics. You will learn the fundamental methods needed to represent, model, and control robotic systems. These tools will enable you to move forward in both research and industrial applications.


ME 2004, ME 3524, and ME 3534


ME 4584 - Robotics Laboratory

Learning Objectives

Imagine that someone gives you a new robot that they have no idea how to use. By the end of this class, you will be able to: (a) formulate the position, orientation, and motion of the robot, (b) build geometric and dynamic models of the robot, (c) control the robot to safely follow a desired trajectory.


Prof. Dylan Losey
213D Goodwin Hall

Teaching Assistant

Yohan Sequeira


  • (Primary) Modern Robotics by Lynch and Park, 2019. Download here.
  • (Secondary) Robot Modeling and Control by Spong, 2006. Download here.


Homework: 32%
Labs: 18%
Midterm: 20%
Final: 30%


All readings are from Modern Robotics unless otherwise stated. RMC marks a reading from Robot Modeling and Control.
Date Lecture Reading Assignment
Aug. 24 Introduction
Aug. 26 What is a Robot? 2.1, 2.2, 2.5
Aug. 31 Rigid-Body Motion: Rotation 3.1, 3.2.1
Sept. 2 Rigid-Body Motion: Rotation 3.2.2, 3.2.3 HW1 Due
Sept. 7 Rigid-Body Motion: Transformation 3.3.1 Lab 1
Sept. 9 Rigid-Body Motion: Transformation 3.3.1 Lab 1
Sept. 14 Rigid-Body Motion: Twists 3.3.2, 3.3.3
Sept. 16 Forward Kinematics 4.1 HW2 Due
Sept. 21 Forward Kinematics 4.1
Sept. 23 Forward Kinematics + Jacobian 5.1, 5.1.1
Sept. 28 Jacobian 5.1, 5.1.1 Lab 2, HW3 Due
Sept. 30 Jacobian 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 5.1.5 Lab 2
Oct. 5 Jacobian 5.3, 5.4 Lab 3
Oct. 7 Inverse Kinematics 6.1, 6.2 Lab 3, HW4 Due
Oct. 12 Midterm
Oct. 14 Inverse Kinematics 6.1, 6.2
Oct. 19 Dynamics 3.4, 5.2
Oct. 21 Dynamics 8.1.1 + RMC 7.1.1 HW5 Due
Oct. 26 Dynamics 8.1.2 + RMC 7.2, 7.3, 7.4
Oct. 28 Dynamics 8.1.2 + RMC 7.2, 7.3, 7.4
Nov. 2 Control 11.1, 11.2
Nov. 4 Control 11.4.1 + RMC 6.2, 6.3 HW 6
Nov. 9 Control 11.4.1 + RMC 6.5
Nov. 11 Control 11.4.2 + RMC 8.1
Nov. 16 Control 11.5, 11.6
Nov. 18 Motion Planning 10.1, 10.2.1-10.2.3 HW7 Due
Nov. 30 Motion Planning 10.5, 10.6
Dec. 2 Motion Planning 10.5, 10.6
Dec. 7 Future Directions HW8 Due
Dec. 13 Final Exam 10:05-12:05pm

Office Hours

Wednesdays, 1:00-2:00pm and Fridays, 1:00-2:00pm
On the weeks when homework is due

All students are invited to attend! You don't need to have a particular question — you’re welcome to just stop by for 5 minutes and introduce yourself, or talk about a recent lecture. I also encourage students to use the Discussion feature on Canvas, which I regularly check to answer questions. I will not respond to emails requesting help on a specific homework problem.


There are 8 assigments, each of which is worth 4% of your final grade. Homework is due on Saturday by midnight. Late assignments are not accepted, except when the student has an illness, emergency, or other pressing issue. If you need to ask for an extension due to one of these reasons do not hesitate to contact me. However, you must make your request before the homework deadline.


The course has a midterm and a final exam that will be conducted in Lavery Hall 340. The midterm will occur during our regular class time. Both the midterm and the final are closed book, and you are not allowed to use online resources, calculators, or computers. However, you are encouraged to bring up to 2 sheets worth of notes (with writing on the front and back of each) for reference during the test.


Group discussion and collaborative work is encouraged on the homework, labs, and when studying for exams. However, you must submit your own assignment. All assignments submitted are considered graded work and are subject to the Honor Code. Students are not allowed to collaborate during the exams.

Services for Students with Disabilities

Every student in this course should have an equal opportunity to succeed. If you anticipate or experience academic barriers that may be due to disability, including but not limited to ADHD, chronic or temporary medical conditions, deaf or hard of hearing, learning disability, mental health, or vision impairment, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office (540-231-3788,, or visit If you have an SSD accommodation letter, please email me as soon as possible so that I can accommodate your needs. I am happy to discuss your accommodations in a private meeting during office hours (or by appointment).

Honor Code

The Undergraduate Honor Code pledge that each member of the university community agrees to abide by states:

“As a Hokie, I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do.”

Students enrolled in this course are responsible for abiding by the Honor Code. A student who has doubts about how the Honor Code applies to any assignment is responsible for obtaining specific guidance from the course instructor before submitting the assignment for evaluation. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the University community from the requirements and expectations of the Honor Code. Academic integrity expectations are the same for online classes as they are for in person classes. All university policies and procedures apply in any Virginia Tech academic environment. For additional information about the Honor Code, please visit:

Honor Code Pledge

The Virginia Tech honor code pledge for assignments is as follows:

``I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this assignment.''

The pledge is to be written out on all graded assignments at the university and signed by the student. The honor pledge represents both an expression of the student's support of the honor code and a commitment to uphold the academic standards at Virginia Tech.

Academic Misconduct

If you have questions or are unclear about what constitutes academic misconduct on an assignment or exam, please speak with me. The normal sanction I will recommend for a violation of the Honor Code is an F* sanction as your final course grade. The F represents failure in the course, and * identifies a student who has failed to uphold the values of academic integrity at Virginia Tech.