List of all ROB courses

4 Credits
Winter term, even years
Lecture and Lab

Graduate Standing, and prior courses on dynamics and control (at the discretion of the instructor) such as ME 535, ME 531, ME 533


Jonathan Hurst
313 Graf Hall

Course Description

Robots and automated systems move using many different methods of actuation, including electric motors, hydraulic systems, and pneumatic systems. While the motions of the robot are largely controlled through software, the physical system can impose significant constraints. These constraints are not only speed or force limits; all physical systems have passive dynamics, such as inertia or compliance. Passive dynamics can either limit the performance, or enhance it. This course covers various actuation methods, and how to utilize passive dynamics for a specific task. Examples include robotic manipulation tasks, robot-human interaction, CNC Machines, or legged locomotion.


  • Robotic manipulation tasks
  • Robot-human interaction
  • CNC machines
  • Legged locomotion

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the operation and dynamic model of actuation methods, including brush and brushless electric motors, hydraulics, and pneumatics.
  2. Calculate the physical performance limits of an actuator for a particular task.
  3. Create or simulate an actuator, and experiment at the limits of its performance.