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Robotics education at the undergraduate level is most effective as a coupling between theoretical concepts and tangible experiments. Making this connection effective requires a pragmatic way of applying the traditional robotic material to exciting laboratory exercises. A course recently offered in Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, simply titled "Introduction to Robotics," utilizes an open-architecture robotic arm to give students hands-on experience with topics that they encounter in lecture. None of the experiments conducted in this course are wholly novel; however, the use of an open-architecture hardware or software system enables the instructor to rapidly prototype lab exercises with minimal effort. This column will give an overview of the apparatus and experiments used for this course.
Date of Publication: September 2008