The Arrival of Robot Autonomy
Episode 1 of Robotics Series

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Robot Bodies and Trade-Offs
Episode 2 of Robotics Series
Why just watch robots when you can understand how they actually work? Deconstruct a Roomba to learn the five functional categories of parts all robots need. Then, explore a universal lesson about robotics: because robots can't do everything well, trade-offs (such as simplicity versus maneuverability) are always involved.
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Episode 6 of Robotics Series
In robotics, the most important problem mobile robots must solve is how to navigate, or move with purpose, in the world. Here, learn how simultaneous localization and mapping (using internal models, beacons, and dead reckoning navigation) is the key to a robot's autonomy in both structured and exploratory situations.
Extreme Robots
Episode 19 of Robotics Series
Walking and running robots, whether they move on four legs or two, offer some of the most extreme physical challenges in all of robotics. What are the advantages of legged robots that make them so attractive to roboticists? How do robots with legs balance themselves and move around in different…
The Futures of Robotics
Episode 24 of Robotics Series
Because it's a multidisciplinary field, there isn't just one future for robotics, but instead multiple futures. What could some of them look like? Consider everything from companion robots that can coordinate our activities to surgical robots that can work autonomously inside our bodies using updates from a "robotic cloud system."
Designing a New Robot
Episode 9 of Robotics Series
Move from kits and hacks into the actual design and construction of more complex robots for research or business. As you explore the iterative decision-making process used by robotics engineers, you'll meet intriguing robots including Madeline, the first transphibian vehicle, and RayBot, an artificial fish used for surveillance.
Swarm Robots
Episode 20 of Robotics Series
A huge challenge in robotics is getting robots to work as a team to do things they can't do alone. Enter swarm robots: simple, similar mobile robots that combine to generate complex behaviors. Investigate this area of robotics that's barely in its infancy, but has vast potential for scientific research,…
Robot Controllers and Programming
Episode 5 of Robotics Series
What turns a remotely controlled machine into an autonomous robot? Self-control. So where does self-control in robots come from? Find out in this lecture on robot controllers: the computer-like part of robots that uses sensory information to decide how the robot should achieve its immediate and long-term goals.
Social Robots
Episode 22 of Robotics Series
Enter the brave new world of social robotics, where robots are built specifically to communicate with humans and other autonomous physical agents. With the help of the robot Baxter, discover how simple signals like spoken words, expressions, and body language can create a dynamic user interface between human and robot.
Mobile Robots at Home
Episode 12 of Robotics Series
Advancements in modern robotics have made robots useful, safe, reliable, easy to use, and affordable to have in our homes. So how exactly do different home robots--such as vacuum cleaners like Roomba, gutter cleaners like Looj, and lawn mowers like MowBot--adjust to the unique demands of their respective tasks?
Robot Arms in the Factory
Episode 11 of Robotics Series
Each year, many tens of thousands of new robots are purchased to help us manufacture cars, medicines, and other everyday materials. And it all started with variations on the robotic arm. Here, examine early prototypes of pick-and-place robots; consider the trade-offs between range and control of motion; and ponder how…
Space Robots in Orbit and on Other Worlds
Episode 17 of Robotics Series
Find out how space missions have pushed us to the limits of what autonomous robots can do. Central to this lecture are several fascinating robots, including Robonaut 2 (a humanoid robot working on the International Space Station) and the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, who are helping us better understand the…
Robot Actuators and Movement
Episode 3 of Robotics Series
Investigate robot actuators: the motors and transmissions that underlie all robotic movement. You'll learn about the early use of springs as motors in automata; how electricity spins the magnets that make motors move; how movement defines what a robot is; and different types of motors (including DC and servo motors).