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Northwestern University

Modern Robotics, Course 3: Robot Dynamics

Northwestern University via Coursera


Do you want to know how robots work? Are you interested in robotics as a career? Are you willing to invest the effort to learn fundamental mathematical modeling techniques that are used in all subfields of robotics?

If so, then the "Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control" specialization may be for you. This specialization, consisting of six short courses, is serious preparation for serious students who hope to work in the field of robotics or to undertake advanced study. It is not a sampler.

In Course 3 of the specialization, Robot Dynamics, you will learn efficient numerical algorithms for forward dynamics (calculating the robot's acceleration given its configuration, velocity, and joint forces and torques) and inverse dynamics (calculating the required joint forces and torques given the robot's configuration, velocity, and acceleration). The former is useful for simulation, and the latter is useful for robot control. You will also learn how to plan robot trajectories subject to dynamic constraints.

This course follows the textbook "Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control" (Lynch and Park, Cambridge University Press 2017). You can purchase the book or use the free preprint pdf. You will build on a library of robotics software in the language of your choice (among Python, Mathematica, and MATLAB) and use the free cross-platform robot simulator V-REP, which allows you to work with state-of-the-art robots in the comfort of your own home and with zero financial investment.


  • Chapter 8: Dynamics of Open Chains (Part 1 of 2)
    • Lagrangian formulation of dynamics, centripetal and Coriolis forces, robot mass matrix, dynamics of a rigid body, and Newton-Euler inverse dynamics for an open-chain robot.
  • Chapter 8: Dynamics of Open Chains (Part 2 of 2)
    • Forward dynamics of an open chain, task-space dynamics, constrained dynamics, and practical effects due to gearing and friction.
  • Chapter 9: Trajectory Generation (Part 1 of 2)
    • Point-to-point "straight-line" trajectories and polynomial trajectories passing through via points.
  • Chapter 9: Trajectory Generation (Part 2 of 2)
    • Time-optimal motions along a specified path subject to robot dynamics and actuator limits.

Taught by

Kevin Lynch


4.7 rating at Coursera based on 154 ratings

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