• University of Reading

Begin Robotics

Learn robotics as you explore their history, anatomy, and intelligence before test driving robots using exciting simulations.

70,366 enrolled on this course

Scampi is a 28 gram walking robot created by Robotics student Rory Mangles and is mostly made of paperclips.

Begin Robotics

70,366 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Gain an introduction to robotics

Robots today are roving Mars, hoovering our floors, building cars and entertaining us in films. But how do robots achieve particular tasks? And is our relationship with them evolving?

On this four-week course, you’ll gain a solid introduction to robotics to answer these questions and more.

You’ll delve into the different applications of robots, human-robot interaction, and robot cooperation that mimics living systems.

Robot anatomy

As you discover the basics of robot anatomy, you’ll explore the key components of robot design, control, and behaviour.

Through a series of practical simulations, you’ll test drive an ERIC – our very own University of Reading mobile robot.

You’ll command ERIC to explore its environment avoiding obstacles, follow a line, and act like a Braitenberg vehicle.

Gain an understanding of cybernetics

Next, you’ll delve into cybernetics and the importance of control, feedback and interaction.

You’ll command ERIC to track a moving object and be introduced to virtual reality, interaction, and haptics.

Learn robotics with the University of Reading

Finally, you’ll examine robot instincts and learning, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of robots adapting their behaviour.

Learning from the experts at the University of Reading, you’ll gain theoretical knowledge and practical skills as you’re guided through simulations to help you practise what you have learned.

By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to move onto more advanced robotics topics.

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  • Week 1

    Introduction to Robotics

    • Welcome

      Welcome to the course. Find out what we have in store for you over the next few weeks.

    • Introducing robots

      Let's get started by looking at the definition and history of robotics. We'll also introduce you to some of the robots here at the University of Reading.

    • Robot applications

      In this section, we'll look at how robots are used and our relationship with them.

    • Robot simulations

      In the first two of a series of simulations throughout the course, you will be able to test drive an ERIC. This week you will be able to set the speed of ERIC to determine movement.

    • Review and reflect

      Review and reflect on what you've learnt this week and test your knowledge with a quiz.

  • Week 2

    Robot anatomy

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Have a look at what will be covered this week - robot anatomy.

    • Sensors and Actuators

      Let's look in detail at sensors and actuators and how these allow a robot to move, measure quantities and achieve certain tasks.

    • Moving a robot

      Now we'll look at how a robot moves. In particular, types of motors, power supplies and the 'brain'.

    • Week 2 simulations

      Check out these simulations, where you will get the chance to navigate an ERIC around a racetrack.

    • Anatomy of the robots at the University of Reading

      Let's look at the anatomy of some of our very own robots at Reading including ERIC and the rover robots. Then we'll meet R2-D2.

    • Review and reflect

      Review and reflect on the week and then test your knowledge with a short quiz.

  • Week 3

    Cybernetics and control

    • Welcome to Week 3

      This week we'll be looking at feedback control and why it's so important in robotics.

    • Control

      Let's take a closer look at how we can control a robot and also how it can be done automatically.

    • Feedback and interaction with robots at the University of Reading

      We'll show you some of the ways you can interact with the robots here at the University.

    • Haptic technology

      Find out about what haptic technology is and why it plays such an important part in psychology research at the University of Reading.

    • Week 3 simulations

      In this week's simulations, command a robot to do specific actions and to track a moving object.

    • Review and reflect

      Review what we've covered this week, before testing yourself with a short quiz.

  • Week 4

    Robot behaviours

    • Welcome to Week 4

      Find out what you will be learning in this final week.

    • Living systems

      What features do robots have in common with living systems?

    • Lights and Robot Behaviour

      Check out robot 'eyes', simple 'neurons' and responding to light.

    • Robot-to-robot interaction

      Explore how light and light sensors can be used to control robot-to-robot interaction and mimic examples of behaviour found in nature.

    • Instinct and learning

      Find out about the relationship between instinct and learning in nature and why it can be useful to devise a way for some robots to 'learn'.

    • Cooperation

      Ants, flocking and Craig Reynolds boids; this is where you'll look at examples of robot cooperation that mimic cooperative behaviour in living systems.

    • Simulations

      In this Week's simulations; define motor speeds to help ERIC navigate along the walls of a maze and define neurons for Braitenberg-type robots.

    • Time to Reflect

      Take some time to think about what you've learnt, what you've achieved and what's next.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the wide variety of robots and their applications.
  • Explain how a robot moves, senses and responds to its environment using motors, sensors and actuators.
  • Demonstrate the various ways robots are controlled by humans through automation, haptic technologies and virtual reality.
  • Compare robot behaviour, cooperation and learning with that of living systems.
  • Practise the skills developed on the course through simulations that allow you to experiment, explore and test your knowledge.

Who is the course for?

The course is designed for anyone interested in robotics - you don’t need to own your own robot to take part. If you’ve always wanted to learn about robotics, robot design, or the history of robots, this is the course for you.

Please be aware that this course contains video clips that include sequences of flickering/flashing lights which might affect learners who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy.

Who will you learn with?

I am Professor of Cybernetics in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Reading. My interests include Education, Computing, Control, Robotics, AI Gaia Theory and Programming.

Professor of Interactive & Human Systems at the University of Reading.

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 22 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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