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Queensland University of Technology

Introduction to Robotics: Learning Kinematics to Make Robots Move

Queensland University of Technology via FutureLearn

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Discover how robots can be programmed to move

This three-week course delves into the growing world of the robotics industry, and what it takes to make robots move.

You’ll begin by exploring the capabilities of robots and learning the mathematics behind robotic movement.

With this knowledge, you’ll consider objects in a two-dimensional plane, exploring the concepts of position, pose, rotation, and translation, as you unpack the process of how robots work and move.

Understand the principles of kinematics including forward and inverse kinematics

Robot movement relies on the principles of kinematics – the motion of a body or bodies.

You’ll develop your programming skills as you learn how to program forward kinematics equations in practical MATLAB assignments.

You’ll also learn approaches to inverse kinematics and dive into principles of join control theory to increase your theoretical and practical knowledge of robotic movement.

Move on to advanced techniques in 3D robotics

Guided by the experts at the Queensland University of Technology, you’ll get a taste of 3D robotics to understand the complexity of types of motion in 3D.

By the end of the course, you’ll feel comfortable in being able to explain the capabilities of robots, with an understanding of the mathematics and programming behind making a robot move.

This course is designed for those with some knowledge of advanced high-school mathematics or engineering – in particular, analytic geometry and linear algebra.

You should also know how to program in MATLAB to complete the practical exercises.

Everything you need to succeed in this course is provided, or can be downloaded for free. If you’d like to attempt the exercises throughout this course, you will be using a program called MATLAB. With support from MathWorks, free access to MATLAB will be provided for the duration of the course plus 30 days.

All exercises are embedded in the course, so you don’t need to have MATLAB to participate.

However, if you’d like to follow along with Professor Corke’s MATLAB demonstrations, work on the exercises, or explore topics on your own, MathWorks has provided a licence for MATLAB Online for this course. We will guide you through the setup of MATLAB and the Robotics Toolbox at the beginning of the course. The use of MATLAB is what will really give you a powerful learning experience, letting you try out the exercises and examples provided.

If you have not used MATLAB before, and would like to take a two-hour introductory course, please check out the MATLAB Academy’s MATLAB Onramp course. This covers the MATLAB basics with walk-through activities. This is an optional activity.


  • Knowing where things are
    • Getting ready to move
    • Geometry recap
    • Frames of reference
    • Summary and next steps
  • Introducing kinematics
    • Welcome back
    • Types of robots
    • Forward kinematics
    • Inverse kinematics
    • Summary and next steps
  • Robot motion and joint control
    • Welcome to Week 3
    • Types of motion in 2D
    • Joint control
    • A taste of 3D robotics
    • Summary and next steps

Taught by

Prof Peter Corke


3.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

Start your review of Introduction to Robotics: Learning Kinematics to Make Robots Move

  • Beginner level Kinematics course. Helpful for undergraduates just getting into robotic kinematics and dynamics. Very basic stuff. The Robotics Toolbox developed by Peter Corke (the designer of the course) is the peak point of the course.

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