Flying Robots: How to Build and Program Small UAVs Using the Robot Operating System

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 24, 2019 - July 12, 20196/24 - 7/12M-F 3:30P-6:20PWaitlistedPeter Haas

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Course Description

This course will combine both hardware and software skills, teaching you not just how to build a UAV, but how to control that UAV with the robot operating system (ROS). This will lay a foundation for controlling other robots, from vacuum cleaners to humanoid robotic arms. You will learn basics in electronics, linux, ROS, and PID controllers. The course will be hands on and at the end of the semester, students will take home a functioning autonomous UAV.

Each student will build and program their own small quadcopter. The course will provide basic components and a small number of replacement parts. We will cover PID controllers for stable flight, localization with a downward facing camera, and autonomous planning. At the end of the semester, students will take home a functioning autonomous quadcopter.

We will cover the following topics:

Safety and ethics.
Sensing and actuation.
PID controllers.
High-level programming.
Networking and message passing.
ROS basics.

The course will be hands on both building and programming the quadcopter. In class students will focus on building and programming. Out of class students will have related readings and software based assignments.

By the end of the course students should have a grasp of:

UAV construction
PID controllers
Safety and Ethics of UAV use

This course should provide a solid base for taking an introductory robotics course in the future.

Prerequisites: An understanding of python, linux and matrix math would be advantageous but not required. Access to a laptop is required.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEN0935
  • Length: 3 weeks
  • Supplemental Fee: $250

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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