16-264: Humanoids
Spring 2015
Instructors: Chris Atkeson, cga at cmu
TA: Allison Funkhouser, afunkhou at andrew
Time: TR 3-4:20PM Place: NSH 3002 Units: 12

Events of interest

Aaron Dollar, Tuesday, March 31st 1 PM GHC 6115
Mechanical Intelligence in Robotic Manipulation: Towards Human-level Dexterity in Robotic and Prosthetic Hands

The human hand is the pinnacle of dexterity - it has the ability to powerfully grasp a wide range of object sizes and shapes as well as delicately manipulate objects held within the fingertips. Current robotic and prosthetic systems, however, have only a fraction of that manual dexterity. My group attempts to address this gap in two main ways: the mechanical design of effective hands and the study of human hand function and use as inspiration and performance benchmarking. In terms of hand design, we strongly prioritize passive mechanics, including incorporating adaptive underactuated transmissions and carefully tuned compliance, and seek to maximize open-loop performance while minimizing complexity. To motivate and benchmark our efforts, we are examining human hand usage during daily activities as well as quantifying functional aspects such as precision manipulation workspaces. Besides describing these efforts, I will touch on other work in the lab related to legged robots, novel fabrication techniques, modular robots, and the study of non-human hands.

Ex Machina (movie) opens April 10.

Course Description

For more information, take a look at the previous version of this course.



Ways to capture movies of your assignments

  • Assignment 0: Due Jan 19. Send email to Chris and Allison: Who are you? Done any robotics? Any project ideas? Google and send me some interesting URLs.
    Be sure your name is obvious in the email, and you mention the course name or number. We teach more than one course, and a random email from robotlover@cs.cmu.edu is hard for us to process.
  • Assignment 1: Due Jan 20. Watch a movie or TV show or read a book that has a significant humanoid robot character. Be prepared to discuss this character in class. Current movies: Big Hero 6 and Interstellar.
  • Assignment 2: Inverse Kinematics: Due Feb 11.
  • Assignment 3: Vision: Due Mar 4.
  • Assignment 4: Animation: Due ?.


* means with high probability it could turn into a summer job.
  • * Build a soft robot and control it. See my web pages on soft robots
  • * Build Baymax
  • * Build a "robot theater/diorama" for STEAM education.
  • * Help me build a sensor network for the Sarcos humanoid.
  • * Build a prototype robot skin (with CGA help).
  • * Figure out how to make the Robotis-Mini (Darwin) useful to the course.
  • Get a microprocessor to do something involving the real world (sensing or actuation). *Get an Intel Edison working.
  • Simulate something 3D in Matlab (hopping, walking, grasping, ...)
  • Simulate something 3D in ODE
  • Simulate something 3D in Gazebo
  • Develop a vision system to recognize your friends (Use a Kinect).
  • Develop a speech system for robot commands or robot interaction.
  • Train a neural net or other learning approach to do something interesting.
  • Implement some aspect of robotics that we discussed, or something that interests you.
  • Survey the state of the art in some aspect of robotics.
  • Research some topic of interest to you.

Things to Think About

Info on Humanoids



Other Humanoids Courses (mostly graduate) and Research Groups

Course Poster, suitable for framing.