Introduction to Robotics

Robots have a fundamental role in our lives, being more and more common the products that use robotics concepts to work. They are also an excelent way to develop school projects, envolving knowledge of areas such as automation and control, sensors, programming and algorithms.

The goal of this training course is to construct and program a Lego® Mindstorms® robot. The participants will be divided in teams, each one responsible for a specific function. With this method we mimic the organization of an industrial project, envolving several people with distinct functions, being the final product the result of a cooperative effort in which all are rewarded or penalized in view of the global performance.

In the construction stage the participants are divided in 3 teams:

  • Project team: must assure the the assembly is performed accordingly to project specifications;
  • Logistics team: responsible for supplying parts and materials needed by the production team, accordingly to the instructions given by the project team:
  • Production team: using the instructions provided by the project team and the parts supplied by logistics must construct the robot.

Each team has a supervisor that should coordinate his subordinates and report to the project leader, me, of the progress. It's also his duty to have frequent meetings with the supervisor of the other teams to plan upcoming work.

After construction is complete the robot must be programmed to perform the task it's designed to do. At this stage participants will also be divided in 3 teams:

  • Project team: will design the algorithms that allow the robot to function properly;
  • Programming team: writes the program that executes the designed algorithms;
  • Tests and quality control team: tests the robot and reports errors to the other teams.

Remark: programming a Lego Mindstorms robot is done on LabView™ software. It's a visual programming environment that doesn't require any previous experience with programming languages.

Course organization:

  • Session 1: Introduction and goals of the course and role selection. Preparation meetings beetwen the supervisors and the project leader. Preparation meeting of the teams.
  • Sessions 2 and 3: Construction of the robot.
  • Sessions 4, 5 and 6: Programming the robot.
  • Sessions 7 and 8: Final states, tests and official launch of the robot.

How to attend?

Usually I perform training courses only in Portugal. If, however, you'd like to have this course at your school, even in a foreign country, have your school contact me to see if it can be arranged.