CS223A / ME320 : Introduction to Robotics - Winter 2023

This course provides an introduction to physics-based design, modeling, and control of robotic systems, in particular of robotic arms. You will learn basic methodologies and tools, and build a solid foundation that will enable you to move forward in both robotic research (CS327A, CS326) and applications (CS225A). Concepts that will be covered in the course are Spatial Transformations; Forward and Inverse Kinematics of Robots; Jacobians; Robot Dynamics, Joint, Cartesian, Operational Space and Force Control as well as Vision-based Control.

Expected Learning Outcomes

After taking the class, students will be able to

  • Design a robot with an optimal workspace
  • Model a robot to sufficient precision
  • Implement and tune a robot motion controller that exposes desired behaviour
  • Implement and tune a compliant robot motion/force controller that exposes desired behaviour
  • Implement and tune a vision-based robot motion controller that is robust to noise
  • Assess limitations of traditional, model-based approaches, visualise these failure cases, and propose an approach on how they can be addressed (as assessed by bonus exercises in homework assignments)

All learning outcomes are assessed by homework assignments, midterm and final exam.


Mon & Wed from 3:00 PM - 4:20 PM
Lectures conducted in-person in Gates B1

Course Reader

Available at the Bookstore.


All course materials will be shared through the Canvas page, including important class announcements from the Teaching Staff.



Homework: 40%
Midterm (in class): 25%
Final (in class): 35%


There are 7 assignments, total worth 40% of your final grade.
Due @ 11:59 PM on Thursdays on Gradescope (class code TBA).


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Oussama Khatib


Office hours: Mon + Wed, 4:30 - 5:30 PM, Gates 203
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Wesley Guo

Course Assistant

Office hours: Wed + Thu, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Gates 200
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William Chong

Course Assistant

Office hours: Wed + Fri, 1:00 - 3:00 PM, Gates 200
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Adrian Piedra

Course Assistant

Office hours: Mon 1:00 - 3:00 PM, Tue 3:00 - 5:00 PM, Gates 200
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Chinmay Devmalya

Course Assistant

Office hours: Mon + Wed, 6:00 - 8:00 PM, remote on Zoom at this link
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Bo Kim

Course Assistant

Office hours: Tue + Thu, 1:00 - 3:00 PM, Gates 200


Date Lecture Homework
Mon, Jan 09 Introduction & Course Review
Wed, Jan 11 Spatial Descriptions
Thur, Jan 12 HW 1 Out
Fri, Jan 13 Review - Essential Math (3:20 PM - 4:20 PM, Gates B3)
Mon, Jan 16 Holiday, No Class
Wed, Jan 18 Articulated Body Systems
Thur, Jan 19 HW 1 Due, HW 2 Out
Mon, Jan 23 Forward Kinematics
Wed, Jan 25 Velocity Propagation
Thur, Jan 26 HW 2 Due, HW 3 Out
Mon, Jan 30 Jacobians: Explicit Form
Wed, Feb 01 Jacobians: Force/Torque Relationship
Thur, Feb 02 HW 3 Due, HW 4 Out
Mon, Feb 06 Trajectory Generation
Wed, Feb 08 Inverse Kinematics and Workspace
Thur, Feb 09 Midterm Review Session I (Details TBD) HW 4 Due
Fri, Feb 10 Midterm Review Session II (Details TBD)
Mon, Feb 13 Midterm
Wed, Feb 15 Dynamics: Acceleration and Inertia
Thur, Feb 16 HW 5 Out
Fri, Feb 17 Review - Essential Physics (Time TBD)
Mon, Feb 20 Holiday, No Class
Wed, Feb 22 Dynamics: Newton-Euler
Thur, Feb 23 HW 5 Due, HW 6 Out
Mon, Feb 27 Dynamics: Explicit Form
Wed, Mar 01 Joint Space Control
Thur, Mar 02 HW 6 Due, HW 7 Out
Mon, Mar 06 Operational Space Control
Wed, Mar 08 Advanced Topics
Thur, Mar 09 HW 7 Due
Mon, Mar 13 Perception in Robotics
Wed, Mar 15 Lecture Review
Thur, Mar 16 Final Review Session I (Details TBD)
Fri, Mar 17 Final Review Session II (Details TBD)
Tue, Mar 21 Final Examination (8:30 AM - 11:30 AM, location TBD)

Detailed Info

Website & Other Information Channels

The course website will be on Canvas. All course materials will be shared through the Canvas website, including important class announcements from the Teaching Staff. All assignments should be submitted via Gradescope. To strengthen the background knowledge of students on essential math and physics concepts used throughout the class, we have several review sessions throughout the quarter that we strongly encourage students to attend.



There will be 7 homework problem sets that are pen-and-paper exercises. Their purpose is to practice the concepts covered in class by applying them to different robotics-related example problems. All assignments will be submitted to Gradescope by 11:59pm on the due date.

Collaboration Policy

Although group discussion and work is encouraged, each student should submit their own assignment and perform any necessary calculations on their own.


There will be a midterm and a final for this course. It will include similar problems to those you have encountered in the homework, and will additionally include problems and questions covering the content from the lectures. TA review sessions (schedule TBD) will help you to prepare for the exam.


Homework: 40%
Midterm (in class): 25%
Final (in class): 35%

Late Policy

Each student will have a total of three free late (calendar) days to use for homeworks. Once these late days are exhausted, any assignments turned in late will be penalized 20% per late day. However, no assignment will be accepted more than three days after its due date. Each 24 hours or part thereof that a homework is late uses up one full late day.

Due to the proximity of the midterm, the above policy will not apply for Homework 4. This homework will not be accepted late.


Regrades will also be handled through Gradescope. We will begin to accept regrades for an assignment the day after grades are released for a window of three days. We will not accept regrades for an assignment outside of that window. Regrades are intended to remedy grading errors, so regrade requests must discuss why you believe your answer is correct in light of the deduction you received. We do not accept regrade requests of the form "I deserve more points for this" or "that deduction is too harsh."


The Course Reader is available at the bookstore.

Supplementary Material (Optional)

  • Textbook: Robotics - Modelling, Planning and Control by Siciliano, B., Sciavicco, L., Villani, L., Oriolo, G. Available on Springer within Stanford network.
  • Essence of Linear Algebra by 3blue1brown
  • Python tutorial

Students with Documented Disabilities

Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is made. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066, URL: http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/oae).

The Stanford University Fundamental Standard is a part of this course

It is Stanford’s statement on student behavioral expectations articulated by Stanford’s first President David Starr Jordan in 1896. It is agreed to by every student who enrolls at Stanford. The Fundamental Standard states: Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the university such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens. Failure to do this will be sufficient cause for removal from the university.

The Stanford University Honor Code is a part of this course

It is Stanford’s statement on academic integrity first written by Stanford students in 1921. It articulates university expectations of students and faculty in establishing and maintaining the highest standards in academic work. It is agreed to by every student who enrolls and by every instructor who accepts appointment at Stanford.
The Honor Code states:

  • The Honor Code is an undertaking of the students, individually and collectively
    • that they will not give or receive aid in examinations; that they will not give or receive unpermitted aid in class work, in the preparation of reports, or in any other work that is to be used by the instructor as the basis of grading;
    • that they will do their share and take an active part in seeing to it that others as well as themselves uphold the spirit and letter of the Honor Code.
  • The faculty on its part manifests its confidence in the honor of its students by refraining from proctoring examinations and from taking unusual and unreasonable precautions to prevent the forms of dishonesty mentioned above. The faculty will also avoid, as far as practicable, academic procedures that create temptations to violate the Honor Code.
  • While the faculty alone has the right and obligation to set academic requirements, the students and faculty will work together to establish optimal conditions for honorable academic work.