CS223A / ME320 : Introduction to Robotics - Winter 2022

This course provides an introduction to physics-based design, modeling, and control of robotic systems, in particular of robotic arms. You will learn basic methodologies and tools, and build a solid foundation that will enable you to move forward in both robotic research (CS327A, CS326) and applications (CS225A). Concepts that will be covered in the course are Spatial Transformations; Forward and Inverse Kinematics of Robots; Jacobians; Robot Dynamics, Joint, Cartesian, Operational Space and Force Control as well as Vision-based Control.

Expected Learning Outcomes

After taking the class, students will be able to

  • Design a robot with an optimal workspace
  • Model a robot to sufficient precision
  • Implement and tune a robot motion controller that exposes desired behaviour
  • Implement and tune a compliant robot motion/force controller that exposes desired behaviour
  • Implement and tune a vision-based robot motion controller that is robust to noise
  • Assess limitations of traditional, model-based approaches, visualise these failure cases, and propose an approach on how they can be addressed (as assessed by bonus exercises in homework assignments)

All learning outcomes are assessed by homework assignments and a midterm.


Tue & Thu from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Lectures conducted over Zoom until Jan 17th, then in-person in Gates B1. See Canvas for Zoom link.

Course Reader

Available to order from the Stanford Bookstore here.


All course materials will be shared through the Canvas page, including important class announcements from the Teaching Staff.


This course uses Ed Discussion, a forum available through Canvas. Here you can ask questions about the homework, the exams, and class material in general.


Homework: 40%
Midterm (in class): 25%
Final (in class): 35%


7 assignments, total worth 40% of your final grade.
Due @ 11:59 PM on Fridays via Gradescope
(class code JBXVXE).


Generic placeholder image

Oussama Khatib


Generic placeholder image

Shameek Ganguly


Office Hours: Wed. 4:00 - 5:00 PM
Generic placeholder image

Wesley Guo

Course Assistant

Office Hours: Wed. 10:00 AM-12:00 PM & Thu. 5:00-7:00 PM
Generic placeholder image

Tracy Chen

Course Assistant

Office hours: Tue. 5:00-7:00 PM
Generic placeholder image

Catie Cuan

Course Assistant

Office hours: Wed. 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Generic placeholder image

Chinmay Devmalya

Course Assistant

Office hours: Mon. 1:00-3:00 PM & Thu. 1:00-3:00 PM
Generic placeholder image

Shenli Yuan

Course Assistant

Office hours: Mon. 10:00 AM-12:00 PM & Tue. 1:00-3:00 PM


Date Lecture Homework
Tue, Jan 04 Introduction
Thu, Jan 06 Spatial Representations HW 1 Out
Fri, Jan 07 Review - Essential Math (4:00 - 5:20 PM over Zoom, join the room here)
Tue, Jan 11 Articulated Body Systems
Thu, Jan 13 Forward Kinematics HW 2 Out
Fri, Jan 14 HW 1 Due
Tue, Jan 18 Velocity Propagation
Thu, Jan 20 Jacobians: Explicit Form HW 3 Out
Fri, Jan 21 HW 2 Due
Tue, Jan 25 Jacobians: Force/Torque Relationship
Thu, Jan 27 Trajectory Generation HW 4 Out
Fri, Jan 28 HW 3 Due
Tue, Feb 01 Inverse Kinematics and Workspace
Thu, Feb 03 Robot Perception (Guest Lecture)
Fri, Feb 04 HW 4 Due
Mon, Feb 07 Midterm Review I (Time TBD)
Tue, Feb 08 Robot Design
Tue, Feb 08 Midterm Review II (Time TBD)
Thu, Feb 10 Midterm HW 5 Out
Fri, Feb 11 Review - Essential Physics (Time TBD)
Tue, Feb 15 Dynamics: Acceleration/Inertia
Thu, Feb 17 Dynamics: Newton-Euler HW 6 Out
Fri, Feb 18 HW 5 Due
Tue, Feb 22 Dynamics: Explicit Form
Thu, Feb 24 Joint Space Control HW 7 Out
Fri, Feb 25 HW 6 Due
Tue, Mar 01 Operational Space Control
Thu, Mar 03 Artifical Potential Fields
Mon, Mar 07 HW 7 Due
Tue, Mar 08 Compliant Motion Control
Thu, Mar 10 Advanced Topics
Fri, Mar 11 Final Review Session I (5:30 PM - 7:30 PM), Office Hours Zoom Room (Link Here)
Mon, Mar 14 Final Review Session II (5:30 PM - 7:30 PM), Office Hours Zoom Room (Link Here)
Fri, Mar 18 Final Examination (8:30 AM - 11:30 AM, location TBD)

Detailed Info

Website & Other Information Channels

The course website will be on Canvas. All course materials will be shared through the Canvas website, including important class announcements from the Teaching Staff. All assignments should be submitted via Gradescope. To strengthen the background knowledge of students on essential math and physics concepts used throughout the class, we have several review sessions throughout the quarter that we strongly encourage students to attend.

Discussions and Student Questions

If you have a question, to get a response from the teaching staff quickly we strongly encourage you to post it to the class discussion forum at Ed Discussion. This forum is also accessible directly through canvas. This is a great place to ask questions of the staff, as well as share information among your peers. For private matters, please make a private note visible only to the course instructors. For longer discussions with CA's, we strongly encourage you to come to office hours.

Office Hours

Office Hours begin the week of January 10th. Office Hours will be conducted over Zoom until in-person instruction begins. All sessions will be held at this Zoom Link. Afterwards, this room will continue to be used for SCPD Office Hours (see below)



There will be 7 homework problem sets that are pen-and-paper exercises. Their purpose is to practice the concepts covered in class by applying them to different robotics-related example problems. All assignments will be submitted to Gradescope by 11:59 PM on the due date.

Collaboration Policy

Although group discussion and work is encouraged, each student should submit their own assignment and perform any necessary calculations on their own.


There will be a midterm and a final for this course. It will include similar problems to those you have encountered in the homework, and will additionally include problems and questions covering the content from the lectures. TA Review Sessions (see Timeline) will help you to prepare for the exam.


Homework: 40%
Midterm (in class): 25%
Final (in class): 35%

Late Policy

Each student will have a total of two free late (calendar) days to use for homeworks. Once these late days are exhausted, any assignments turned in late will be penalized 20% per late day. However, no assignment will be accepted more than three days after its due date. Each 24 hours or part thereof that a homework is late uses up one full late day.


Regrades will also be handled through Gradescope. We will begin to accept regrades for an assignment the day after grades are released for a window of three days. We will not accept regrades for an assignment outside of that window. Regrades are intended to remedy grading errors, so regrade requests must discuss why you believe your answer is correct in light of the deduction you received. We do not accept regrade requests of the form "I deserve more points for this" or "that deduction is too harsh."


The Course Reader is available at the Stanford Bookstore. You can pick it up from the store in-person or order online for delivery to any address here. The reader comes with a digital PDF copy you can access via a link inside the front cover. Additionaly, to facilitate course shopping and extended reader delivery times, the first two chapters of the reader are availalbe on Canvas here.

Supplementary Material (Optional)

  • Textbook: Robotics - Modelling, Planning and Control by Siciliano, B., Sciavicco, L., Villani, L., Oriolo, G. Available on Springer within Stanford network.
  • Essence of Linear Algebra by 3blue1brown
  • Python tutorial

Students with Documented Disabilities

Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is made. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066, URL: http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/oae).

SCPD Accommodations

SCPD students who cannot physically attend lecture can still participate and ask questions through the Zoom lectures. Once we return to in-person instruction, you can do the same by going to Canvas Course Videos tab. This tab will show a 40-second delayed livestream of the lecture, and the associated text chat will be monitored by a TA. The Course Videos tab will also contains recordings of past lectures and out-of-class review sessions.

This quarter, some of our Office Hours sesssions will be designated as SCPD priority sessions (times TBD). The TA administering these office hours will be available through the Zoom video conference platform for live discussion of course material and homework. SCPD students will receive priority during this time, but non-SCPD students are also encouraged to attend. Also, before in-person instruction begins, feel free to come to any Zoom office hours that work best for your schedule.

For Exam Monitors and Proctoring, consult the information in the SCPD handbook here. You should designate an Exam Monitor by the second week of class to ensure that you can properly send and recieve your exams.

The Stanford University Fundamental Standard is a part of this course

It is Stanford’s statement on student behavioral expectations articulated by Stanford’s first President David Starr Jordan in 1896. It is agreed to by every student who enrolls at Stanford. The Fundamental Standard states: Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the university such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens. Failure to do this will be sufficient cause for removal from the university.

The Stanford University Honor Code is a part of this course

It is Stanford’s statement on academic integrity first written by Stanford students in 1921. It articulates university expectations of students and faculty in establishing and maintaining the highest standards in academic work. It is agreed to by every student who enrolls and by every instructor who accepts appointment at Stanford.
The Honor Code states:

  • The Honor Code is an undertaking of the students, individually and collectively
    • that they will not give or receive aid in examinations; that they will not give or receive unpermitted aid in class work, in the preparation of reports, or in any other work that is to be used by the instructor as the basis of grading;
    • that they will do their share and take an active part in seeing to it that others as well as themselves uphold the spirit and letter of the Honor Code.
  • The faculty on its part manifests its confidence in the honor of its students by refraining from proctoring examinations and from taking unusual and unreasonable precautions to prevent the forms of dishonesty mentioned above. The faculty will also avoid, as far as practicable, academic procedures that create temptations to violate the Honor Code.
  • While the faculty alone has the right and obligation to set academic requirements, the students and faculty will work together to establish optimal conditions for honorable academic work.