• The University of Sheffield

Building a Future with Robots

Explore the roles robots will play in future everyday life, from job automation and medical science to our homes and cars.

25,379 enrolled on this course

A kilobot swarm

Building a Future with Robots

25,379 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn how your life could be changed by robots and autonomous systems

Robots and autonomous systems have already begun to transform our jobs and everyday lives. From self-driving cars and home robots to chatbots like ChatGPT, technology powered by artificial intelligence and robotics is set to play a pivotal role in our future world.

On this three-week course from the University of Sheffield, you’ll delve into current and future developments in robotics. You’ll discover how robots operate, learn, and interact with the world.

Understand how robots sense, learn, and interact

Over the three weeks of the course, you’ll explore how robots sense the world around them and how they can be made to work with humans and with one another.

You’ll build up a picture of the fundamental principles and challenges of robotic design, looking deeper into how research is working to overcome these.

Build skills and prepare for a future with robots

As you learn about the theory and science of robotics, you’ll also be building practical skills for your own career and life. You’ll learn what a future with robots might look like, and what role you could play within it.

You’ll finish the course with the expertise you need to understand and shape the future of robotics.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds [A woman strokes toy-like robot animals] [The robot animals respond to the woman’s touch] [CAPTION:] ‘Will I help you feel better?’ [CAPTION:] ‘Will I help you learn?’ [A surgeon directs robotic arms to perform an operation] [CAPTION:] ‘Will I save your life?’

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 seconds [A technician operates a robotic arm lifting objects in a laboratory] [CAPTION:] ‘Will I work beside you?’ [CAPTION:] ‘Will I help you move things?’ [A small remote controlled drone flies inside a warehouse] [CAPTION:] ‘Will I find you if you’re lost?’ [A large number of small robot units activate and move together] [CAPTION:] ‘Will we repair the oceans?’

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds [CAPTION:] ‘See what we can do…’ [CAPTION:] ‘Building a Future with Robots’ [CAPTION:] ‘A free online course from the University of Sheffield’ [CAPTION:] ‘Search ‘Future Robots’ at www.futurelearn.com. #FLRoboFuture’

What topics will you cover?

Robots and autonomous systems are set to change our lives in the not-too-distant future; from travel (self-driving cars), to work (job automation), to medicine (biomedical robots), and even domestic life (household robots).

On this course, we’ll look at current and future developments in the field of robotics. You’ll learn how robots sense the world around them, how robotics takes inspiration from nature, and how robots will work with humans.

You’ll build up a picture of the principles and the fundamental challenges of robotic design and learn to demonstrate how research is working to overcome these.

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...

  • Describe the main challenges of working with autonomous systems and the ways in which we might meet these challenges.
  • Explore some basic principles of robotic design.
  • Apply knowledge of where developments in robotics are heading and their potential effect on our future.
  • Explain existing and potential real-life robotic applications.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning about the future of robots and robotics.

It will be particularly useful for aspiring mechanical, automotive, and robotics engineers, as well as product designers, technicians, and enthusiasts keen to understand the role robots are set to play in our domestic, economic, and industrial futures.

What do people say about this course?

Wide in scope of applications and very thought provoking.

"Enjoyable course; wide in scope of applications and very thought provoking, particularly on ethical issues."

It introduced many of the issues surrounding robotics.

"Really enjoyed the course. It introduced many of the issues surrounding robotics, and gave an insight into research and development, and offered a taste of what is yet to come."

Who will you learn with?

Sandor M Veres is professor of Autonomous Control Systems at the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

Who developed the course?

The University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield is one of the world’s top 100 universities with a reputation for teaching and research excellence.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

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

Buy this course

$109/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

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 9 Jul 2024

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

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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