The Department of Computer Science & Engineering

CSE 736: Seminar on Cognitive Robotics
Stuart C. Shapiro
Spring, 2009
Registration No. 492877

Mondays, 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM, 242 Bell Hall,

Prof. Stuart C. Shapiro, 326 Bell Hall, 645-3180 ext. 125,
Office Hours: TBA. Or make an appointment via email. See my schedule for my available times.

Use the UBlearns site for communication among participants and other non-public materials.

The seminar will be a cooperative project in which each participant will implement at least one, hardware or software, cognitive robot over the course of the semester, while sharing techniques with the group, and discussing theoretical background as we go.
"Research in Cognitive Robotics is concerned with the theory and the implementation of robots that reason, act and perceive in changing, incompletely known, unpredictable environments. Such robots must have higher level cognitive functions that involve reasoning, for example, about goals, actions, when to perceive and what to look for, the cognitive states of other agents, time, collaborative task execution, etc. In short, Cognitive Robotics is concerned with integrating reasoning, perception and action within a uniform theoretical and implementation framework." [From the description of the AAAI 1998 Fall Symposium on Cognitive Robotics]

Students can work singly or in groups of two. Each group is to work on some particular hardware or software robot platform. Available platforms include (in no particular order):
Hardware Platforms
  • The Scribbler+Fluke designed by the Institute for Personal Robots in Education If you want to use this platform, order it from Georgia Robotics Inc.. Its cost is similar to that of a textbook. Order it promptly to insure that you get it by the start of the Spring Semester.


    1) We (Georgia Robotics) begin to offer refurbished Scribblers and Flukes at $40 and $60 respectively. They will come with a 120 day (1 semester) guarantee.
    2) We also begin to offer a buy-back program: $20 for robots, $30 for Flukes. We'll take them back, test them, then offer them as refurbished per #1. This means an individual student could essentially "rent" a robot for a semester at a total cost of $50.
  • The Magellan Pro robot owned by the SNeRG Research Group.
  • Rovio by Wowwee robotics, available from various sources for about $250-$300. This platform has been suggested by one of the students. It's not entirely clear that it satisfies all of the criteria listed below. See the Rovio API Specifications.

Software Platforms

Other Platforms
Other platforms may be proposed, but they must satisfy the following criteria:
  • They must be controllable from a program the user is able to write. For example, it must not be controllable only via human remote control (a teleoperated robot).
  • The program must be able to perform an on-line sense-reason-act cycle:
    1. Sense: receive data indicating relevant aspects of the environment;
    2. Reason: execute a procedure that computes the next act(s) to be performed based on the sensor data;
    3. Act: perform the act, or the sequence of acts, determined by the reasoning procedure;
    The act or acts performed then change the environment and/or the robot's position in it, which affect the sensor readings on the next sense-reason-act cycle, and the cycle continues.
  • It is not absolutely required, but it is preferred, that the program that controls the robot either be in Common Lisp (CL), or be in a programming language accessible from CL via its foreign-function interface. This is so that the robot may be incorporated in the GLAIR architecture with the Knowledge Layer implemented by SNeRE, the SNePS Acting System.
  • Course Expectations:
    • Actively participate in all seminar meetings. At each meeting, we will: work on and demonstrate our robots; share techniques; and discuss theoretical background, including whatever outside reading has been assigned.
    • Read the outside reading assignments.
    • Work on your robot outside of seminar meetings. You should work on the course outside of meetings at least about 6.5 hours per week.
    • Write a term paper describing your robot implementation. Your paper must be detailed enough so that future students can use it as a guide to implementing their own cognitive robots on the same platform as you used. Some example papers are:

    This seminar will abide by the Departmental policy that all seminars are graded on an S/U basis. To earn a grade of S, a student must satisfy the course expectations listed above.

    Academic policies:
    This course will abide by the Departmental Academic Integrity policies and procedures,
    and the Departmental Incomplete policy.

    The short versions are:

    • all work turned in with your name on it must be your own work;
    • unless something disastrous and unavoidable happens to you, you will not receive an incomplete in this course.

    Last modification: 7/25/03.

    Stuart C. Shapiro <>