University of Notre Dame
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

ME 469: Course Syllabus


The final grade will be based on homework sets, a midterm exam,a final exam and three projects. Note: the undergraduate robotics lab is under renovation. As such, there is a small chance that some of the equipment necessary for the above projects may not be available in time for the project. In the unlikely event that a project is canceled, the 15% of the grade for that project will be evenly divided and 5% added to the homework, midterm and final exam grade weights.

Homework policy:

Collaboration on homework assignments in encouraged. You may consult outside reference materials, other students, the TAs, or the instructor. However, all solutions that are handed in should reflect your understanding of the subject matter at the time of writing. Homework solutions from previous semesters are off limits. Referring to them before submitting an assignment will be considered a violation of the honesty policy.


For each project, you will work in groups of three of four. The instructor will assign each group. Except for dire circumstances, the group composition will remain fixed throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, you will be able to grade the general effort and contribution of each member of your group (including yourself), which will be considered when allocating individual grades.

The projects are designed, for the most part, to be open-ended. As such, prior to "doing" each project, you are responsible for asking questions when you have them and doing any preliminary reading (such as the PUMA programming manual). It will generally be virtually impossible for a group to finish a project in less than a couple of days, and the projects are specifically designed to require coordinated effort on the part of group members over a period of time on the order of more than a week. As a group, you are responsible for determining individual responsibilities and duties for each project. You have complete flexibility in this regard, and the obvious goal is to allocate work in the most efficient way possible. As a group, you will submit only one report, and they must be prepared in an acceptable manner.

Project descriptions will be distributed at least two weeks before the project report is due. As a group, you may submit a proposal to modify the project, or even to substitute a completely different project. Insightful proposals, e.g. ideas to do something better than the original project description in an easier way, will be viewed favorably.

Course text and references:

The required text for the course is: The following text will be useful as well, and has been placed on reserve in the engineering library: The following technical writing references may be helpful for writing good project reports and are available in the Engineering Library:


Computer exercises will be assigned as part of the regular homeworks. Many computations you will do as part of this course will involve the manipulation of relatively large matrices. Since Mathematica is a very useful tool for such computations, you are strongly encourage to learn how to use it, if necessary, and to regularly use it for the homework assignments. The following are a few resources to help you become familiar with Mathematica:

Course outline:

  1. Introduction. 
  2. Rigid Body Transformations. 
  3. Manipulator Kinematics. 
  4. Inverse Manipulator Kinematics. 
  5. Jacobians: Velocities and Forces. 
  6. Manipulator Dynamics
  7. Trajectory Generation. 
  8. Introduction to Robotic Vision. 
  9. Introduction to Mobile Robot Motion Planning. 
  10. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. 
Target dates:

January 13
January 15 - January 22
January 25 - January 29
February 1 - February 5
February 8 - February 12
February 15 - February 19
February 22 - February 26
March 1 - March 19
March 22 - May 2
April 5 - April 19

Items 1 through 7 are from Craig's book. Supplemental notes will be available for the last three topics.

Return to the ME 469 Homepage.

Last updated: January 13, 199.9
B. Goodwine (