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University of Reading

Begin Robotics

University of Reading via FutureLearn


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.

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.


  • Introduction to Robotics
    • Welcome
    • Introducing robots
    • Robot applications
    • Robot simulations
    • Review and reflect
  • Robot anatomy
    • Welcome to Week 2
    • Sensors and Actuators
    • Moving a robot
    • Week 2 simulations
    • Anatomy of the robots at the University of Reading
    • Review and reflect
  • Cybernetics and control
    • Welcome to Week 3
    • Control
    • Feedback and interaction with robots at the University of Reading
    • Haptic technology
    • Week 3 simulations
    • Review and reflect
  • Robot behaviours
    • Welcome to Week 4
    • Living systems
    • Lights and Robot Behaviour
    • Robot-to-robot interaction
    • Instinct and learning
    • Cooperation
    • Simulations
    • Time to Reflect

Taught by

William Harwin, Tharindu Liyanagunawardena and Richard Mitchell


4.2 rating, based on 8 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at FutureLearn based on 57 ratings

Start your review of Begin Robotics

  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed taking this online course. It was challenging and full of information. I really wish the University of Reading would add more online options in this area. Also, having the opportunity to build mt own ERIC would be awesome!! Hint, Hint.
  • Profile image for Rishi Kumaran.J
    Rishi Kumaran.J
    videos are clear. Transcript given are very useful to understand. Glossary are helpful. The lessons will motivate the learners to continue.
  • Nadeem Nawaz
  • Prabhat
  • Jane
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  • Ernesto Simionato

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