CMPT415 Directed Study: Energy-aware exploration for Autonomous Robots

Richard Vaughan []



The class consists of a 90-minute weekly reading group based on the reading list below, and a practical robotics research project.


Each week, read the first two or three papers listed. Then read and watch the extra material if you wish. Naturally, the books contain much more depth than the papers, but may take more time to read than you have available.

The more you read and think about this topic, the more successful the class will be. Further reading, thinking, movie watching and debate is recommended. Evidence of wider reading apparent in the assignments will be rewarded in the final grade.

Links are given to local copies where available. The raw directory of papers is here.


Design and implement an autonomous mobile robot system, in simulation and on a lab robot. The robot must perform the task described below indefinitely, recharging itself as necessary. The project examines robot autonomy, including energy management. I propose a contest to see how far we can get a robot to travel away from the lab and return without running out of power. The lab has several different configurations of robot, from minimal to bristling with power-hungry sensors and computers. We will design models of energhu consumption for te robot, and determine the paramters by empirical tests with the robots. After some exploratory missions to make maps and calibrate its energy consumption models, the robots will strike out to beat the previous distance record (mapping and modelling as they go), then return to the lab for a battery change. This has never been done before, and (if we do a good job) would be of interest at the best robotics conferences (ICRA and RSS). The ICRA deadline is early September. Authors of accepted papers will be sent to the conference.

Getting started

  1. Install Stage and familiarize yourself with the example controllers in (stage source dir)/examples/ctrl.
  2. Write a new world file and a robot controller that explores the environment, recharging as necessary
  3. Individual projects will be discussed in class


Final grade is based on a project including coding and conference-paper style project report.

Reading list

Week 1: Introduction


Week 2: AI, Robots and the Frame Problem


Week 3: Autonomy and Energy


Week 4: Behavior-based robots


Week 5: Navigation


Week 6: Localization and Mapping


Week 7: Multiple Robot Systems


Week 8: Minimalist and Nano-Robots


Week 9: Internal Dynamics, Emotion & Consciousness


Week 10: Biomimetics


Week 11: Evolutionary Robotics