ME/CS 132a, Winter 2011

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Advanced Robotics: Navigation and Vision


  • Larry Matthies (coordinator),
  • Roland Brockers, Brian Williams, Adnan Ansar, Yang Cheng, Nick Hudson, Tom Howard, Yoshi Kuwata, Jeremy Ma
  • Lectures: Tue/Thu, 2:30-4 pm, 306 TOM
  • Office hours: Tue/Thu, 4-5 pm, 303 TOM (by appointment only)

Teaching Assistants (

  • Andrea Censi, Shuo Han
  • Office hours: Mon, 5-6:30 pm, 114 STL

Course Mailing List: (sign up)


  • The location of TA office hours has been changed to 114 Steele.
  • An FAQ page has been created for HW #1.
  • The TA office hours will be on Monday from 5-6:30pm, at 301 Thomas. Send your UID to Shuo Han (hanshuo at caltech) if you need access to Thomas after hours.
  • The instructors' office hours have been changed to "by appointment only". You can send the instructor email before class, or directly come to the instructor before/after class to schedule an office hour.
  • HW #1 has been posted. It is due 2:30pm, 18 Jan.

Course Information


There are no formal prerequisites for the course. ME 115 ab (Introduction to Kinematics and Robotics) is recommended but not necessary. Students are expected to have basic understanding of linear algebra, probability and statistics. We will review some of the required background materials during the first week of lectures. Besides these, students should have some prior programming experience and know at least one of the following languages: C, Python, or MATLAB. Depending on the background of the class, we will hold tutorials for some of the programming languages to help students get started.


There are no midterm/final exams for this course. The grade will be based on weekly homework (60%) and two week-long labs (20% each). Late homework will not be accepted without a letter from the health center or the Dean. However, you are granted a grace period of five late days throughout the entire term for weekly homework. Please email the TAs and indicate the number of late days you have used on the homework. No grace period is allowed for week-long labs.

  • Homework: Homework is usually due in one week after it is assigned. You can choose to turn in a hard copy in class or send an electronic copy to Andrea Censi (andrea at If you are unable attend the lecture, contact the TAs to find an alternative way to turn in your homework.
  • Labs: Students will form groups of 2-3 people and perform lab experiments together. Detail of this will be announced later in the course.

Collaboration Policy

Students are encouraged to discuss and collaborate with others on the homework. However, you should write your own solution to show your own understanding of the material. You should not copy other people's solution or code as part of your solution. You are allowed to consult the instructors, the TAs, and/or other students. Outside reference materials can be used except for solutions from prior years or similar courses taught at other universities. Outside materials must be cited if used.

Course Texts

There are two required textbooks, both of which are freely available online:

Other optional reference materials (books are on reserve at SFL):

  • David A. Forsyth and Jean Ponce, Computer Vision: A Modern Approach, Prentice Hall, 2003.
  • Sebastian Thrun, Wolfram Burgard, and Dieter Fox, Probabilistic robotics, MIT Press, 2005.

Lecture Notes

Week Date Topic Instructor
1 4 Jan (Tu) Overview Larry Matthies
6 Jan (Th) Illumination, Radiometry,
 and a (Very Brief) Introduction to the
 Physics of Remote Sensing Larry Matthies
2 11 Jan (Tu) Cameras Larry Matthies
13 Jan (Th) Camera Calibration Adnan Ansar
3 18 Jan (Tu) Feature Detection and Matching Roland Brockers
20 Jan (Th) Feature Quality Assessment Yang Cheng
4 25 Jan (Tu) Ego motion estimation and outlier detection Adnan Ansar
27 Jan (Th) Image processing Larry Matthies
5 1 Feb (Tu) Stereo vision Roland Brockers
3 Feb (Th) Overview of range sensors Jeremy Ma
6 8 Feb (Tu) No class (week-long lab 1)
10 Feb (Th) No class (week-long lab 1)
7 15 Feb (Tu) TBA TBD
17 Feb (Th) TBA TBD
8 22 Feb (Tu) TBA TBD
24 Feb (Th) TBA TBD
9 1 Mar (Tu) TBA TBD
3 Mar (Th) TBA TBD
10 8 Mar (Tu) No class (week-long lab 2)
10 Mar (Th) No class (study period)