Human and Machine Robotics

Module summary

Module code: ELEE1170
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Engineering
Module Coordinator(s): Wim Melis



The Module aims to provide students with a hands-on experience of developing robotic systems, covering the aspects of regulation and control to ensure that the robot is able to operate safely and appropriately in its environment. For a robot to operate in a certain environment, it will need to understand this environment through the appropriate use of its sensors and actuators. The environment in which robots are used, have moved from product manufacturing to helping with household chores and surgery, while moving even further towards cognitive robotics. In the latter case, the environments in which a robot is found is continuously changing, and so one needs to understand how robots can continue to function in such ever-changing environments. Furthermore, robots often need to work together in the same environment and that towards an individual or common goal. In these cases, it is essential to ensure constructive interaction between these robots.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
1 Demonstrate the ability to reflect on the design and control of robots to operate optimally in complex environments.
2 Analyse and examine behavioural characteristics of robots by reflecting on the significance of the environment in which they will operate.
3 Being able to reflect and formulate designs for robots that work together towards a common goal.

Indicative content

Robotic Behaviour & Adaptability - The regulation/control of a robot directly results in certain, behaviour. Feedback is essential in this context, and the level and accuracy of this feedback will determine the tasks that this robot can deal with. Considering that the robot behaviour may need to change depending on the environment, it is essential to understand the sensory input and decision-making processes used and be able to design adaptable control mechanisms to ensure compatibility within these changing environments.
To achieve most of this, robotics is moving more towards the use of cognitive systems, which therefore also necessitates an understanding of some basic concepts of cognitive psychology.

Robotic Abilities & Interaction - So far, robots have mainly been designed to do tasks for us humans, however their abilities have been more restricted, and it could be beneficial to understand these limitations when e.g. using robots in certain areas. Some challenges may require multiple robots and/or require them to interact with humans in which case the requirements can be quite different, and aspects such as dealing with emotion, or efficient interactions among themselves becomes key to achieving the required tasks.

Teaching and learning activity

The Module will be taught and learned through formal lectures, tutorials, and laboratory work resulting in a robotics challenge demonstrating several robots displaying different behaviours to reach a larger aim.


Practical - 40%
LO - 1,3.
Pass mrk - 50%
2000 words / 7 page ACM paper.
Robotics Challenge: Create a robot/robots that interact(s) and perform(s) a task efficiently, with a short report.

Exam - 60%
LO - 1,2.
Pass mark - 50%
2 hours.
Unseen exam.

All elements of summative assessment must be passed to pass the module.

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
Lab tasks; Mock Exam.