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The University of Sheffield

Building a Future with Robots

The University of Sheffield via FutureLearn


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Learn how your life could be changed by robots and autonomous systems

Robots and autonomous systems have already begun to transform our jobs and everyday lives. From self-driving cars and home robots to chatbots like ChatGPT, technology powered by artificial intelligence and robotics is set to play a pivotal role in our future world.

On this three-week course from the University of Sheffield, you’ll delve into current and future developments in robotics. You’ll discover how robots operate, learn, and interact with the world.

Understand how robots sense, learn, and interact

Over the three weeks of the course, you’ll explore how robots sense the world around them and how they can be made to work with humans and with one another.

You’ll build up a picture of the fundamental principles and challenges of robotic design, looking deeper into how research is working to overcome these.

Build skills and prepare for a future with robots

As you learn about the theory and science of robotics, you’ll also be building practical skills for your own career and life. You’ll learn what a future with robots might look like, and what role you could play within it.

You’ll finish the course with the expertise you need to understand and shape the future of robotics.

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning about the future of robots and robotics.

It will be particularly useful for aspiring mechanical, automotive, and robotics engineers, as well as product designers, technicians, and enthusiasts keen to understand the role robots are set to play in our domestic, economic, and industrial futures.


  • Sensing the world
    • Welcome to the course
    • Interpreting the environment
    • Building autonomous robots
    • Making responsible decisions
    • The future with robots that can sense
  • Learning from nature
    • Welcome to Week 2
    • Understanding nature
    • Modelling animal behaviour
    • Using mind control
    • The challenges of using mind control
    • The future of learning from nature
  • Working in teams
    • Welcome to Week 3
    • Interacting in teams
    • The future for robot teams
    • Preparing for a future with robots
    • Final steps

Taught by

Sandor Veres


4.7 rating, based on 69 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 39 ratings

Start your review of Building a Future with Robots

  • This course I actually completed only to 80% due to come difficulties but the course is worth it for people who want to get to know what robotics is about and how they are to be applied in the real world and the sectors they can be used in .
  • Anonymous
    I've recently completed the course, Building a Future with Robots. I've immensely enjoyed this course and learned far more than I thought I would. The course covers the challenges involved in designing and implementing autonomous robots. The ethical and legal implications of using robots in the real world is also covered. The most fascinating element of this course for me, was learning how robots can be trained to work in teams to accomplish tasks. Overall, I can highly recommend this excellent course.
  • Profile image for Anita Antwiwaa
    Anita Antwiwaa
    The course was very educative and informative. The videos were very concise as well. The lessons were well prepared. You are able to get the understanding even if you have no Robotics background.
  • Anonymous
    Really fun, interactive course, designed for beginners who are interested in robotics. Whilst it does include a couple of technical details, these are directly linked to the general content. It's also just really cool to learn about how different robots work, how they are inspired by biology, and how they will be integrated into society in the near future.
  • Anonymous
    This course was very interesting. It gave me a global and deeper understanding on how robotics evolve nowadays thanks to people dedicated to the activity and how can we expect for robots in the future. It was very complete. Each part of the course explained very well the subject from article to discussion and videos. I realize how fast our society develop itself and that we are at the beginning of a new era. I hope it would be in a near futur to see it by myself. I would like to thank every person who contribute to this course. Thank you :).
  • Anonymous
    A thorough course that manages to be substantial despite being non technical. The first such course I have done and I know realise its something developers ought to be strongly encouraged to do. It gives you perspective on the developments which I had bearly considered before.
    Again, thank you everybody for your work and comments along the way. Also a special thanks to the mentors who were very active and superbly encouraging as well as informative.
  • Anonymous
    This was a fantastic course well done. Congratulations to all the participants. I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in Robots or a technology impact of society
  • Anonymous
    The course was clear and concise. Very educational and thorough. The course was also easy to follow. Full of examples decriptions, and tons of videos.
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed this course very much. It was well organized and had a lot of information. It discussed machine learning, nature-inspired robots, how robots work in teams (with each other and humans), social issues with robots, and much more!

    My only recommendation would be to include a section that gives us an introduction on simple codes used in programming languages in robotics.
  • Anonymous
    I lived everything about the course . I learned new things about Robotics which I'm really facinated about .
  • Profile image for Sfvarandas
    It was a very interesting course, which brought me up-to-date knowledge in the area of robotics, which I am studying now as part of professional and personal improvement. The course was well developed, showing several practical implementations in different areas with a focus on the social, which is very important. I read 90% of the comments, the point of view of others helps me to understand the world and how others think and that they can add to my knowledge. Also as a contribution I commented on all the items that can serve to help someone. I will continue to learn because life is an eternal learning and to be able to contribute with fellow students for mutual growth.
    "Thank you for this opportunity!"
  • Anonymous
    Brilliant course! I knew very little about robotics before and I've learned a great deal in an introductory way. I had no idea there was so much going on in the field of robotics, nor the extent to which AI and robotics are already in use. It's given me a huge amount to think about in terms of the future and how robots are going to be part of it and influence it. I'd say it might have focused a bit more on the ethics of the usage of robots and AI in wider society - it seemed so very focused on all the fantastic and amazing stuff being done by robots - there was not a great deal focus on concerns about misuse and societal disruption. But I'm so glad I've done this course.
  • Anonymous
    This course is useful for beginners and professionals as It has a great content with amazing team of instructors .
    The syllabus contains informative articles and videos about [ Driveless car - Drones - Surgery robots - Remotely operated robots - Mind controlled applications - ......... ]. Also topics related to environmental and ethical roles of robotics developer are included .
    My knowledge about general robotic topics is enlarged as you will find many useful external links. The course price is reasonable.
    I recommend it for who is interested in robotics as it requires only 20 studying hours to download the content and understand it.
  • Profile image for John Michael Apuyan
    John Michael Apuyan
    Very Informative and engaging topics with regard to robotics. The weekly courses are not tedious to do so making learning productive. Delving into the topics at hand, I really enjoyed the concept of robotics and how it distinguishes itself from a machine by possessing attributes on sensing, perception, cognition, and action. The bioinspiration that lead to various robot that imitates biological system was rather fascinating as well making robots adaptive to different environment where inspired features are utilized greatly. The future of robotics are still far in the future but we are definitely heading towards that horizon.
  • Anonymous
    Dear course developers, professors and lecturers,
    Many thanks for offering such an interesting course on robotics that is very comfortable for armatures in the field. There are many questions raised, fascinating work performed by universities presented. The prospects for further self-development like programming languages to learn and ethical questions of using robots to consider make the course content valuable too. It is beneficial to learn from this course about industrial, medical, military and other applications of robots. Bionic design is a great topic. Thank you for the course which seems to be profoundly designed.
  • Anonymous
    I found the course really interesting and understandable for someone like me without any science or engineering knowledge. I liked the videos and their ability to explain [points more but also to show us the type of robots the text covered. I've met robots at my local university and attended a couple of lectures, for example on the ethics of robotics, and have also completed another futureLearn course where students interacted with robots on the screen. I will not be able to complete any higher level courses in this area because (1) it's not my field of expertise; (2) I have other areas I need/want to study further.
  • Anonymous
    A stimulating course to an increasingly important influence on every-ones lives. The course can be considered as being complete in itself but directs to much information which can be obtained from other sources. Robotics extends into many fields such as manufacture, medical, education, services and military not to mention the area of artificial intelligence. The course is well presented with the opportunity for students to partake with comments and answer the occasional quiz which is useful for reinforcing the students understanding of the course.
  • Anonymous
    As an older person who has had very little experience with old or new technology, I have been enriched by following this course. I now know what a stickybot, a shrewbot and a kilobot is. I have thought about how biology and nature's solutions can provide inspiration for engineers dealing with the problems of today. I know what synthetic psychology refers to and that BMI stands for Brain controlled robot. An excellent introduction course for adults and an insight for those who may intend to pursue a career in this field.
  • Anonymous
    This course was a really good introduction to the field of robotics. It looked at what robots are and how they work using sensors and motors, allowing them to act autonomously within their environment. The course helped to better understand how the design of robots is done and where the inspiration come from (i.e. largely from the physical world we live in). Looking at such areas as swarms and bioinspiration was truly fascinating.
  • Anonymous
    I feel I have learnt a lot on this course, more than I thought I would. It has been well thought out and structured. I enjoyed participating in the tests and they helped me see what I needed to learn more about. I work in a school technologies department which now includes the computer science department so I was eager to learn more about robotics and I have found this was an ideal course to do just that. Thank you - LR

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