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Autonomous Robotics: Action, Perception, and Cognition

This course will be taught in the inverted classroom format combining presence and online features ("hybrid"). 

For each lecture (EXCEPT THE FIRST ONE ON APRIL 6) a video will be made available that students should watch BEFORE the lecture hour. During the lecture hour, we'll discuss the material presented in the video. So to profit from that, you MUST have seen the video beforehand. That discussion takes place in the classroom, but can also be followed in real time through a Zoom channel. Both students in the class room and students following online should and can ask questions. 

The same format and same Zoom channel will be used for the exercise sessions. In these, the solutions of the corrected exercises will be discussed. The exercise session can also be used to ask general questions. 

The course uses e-learning features provided through the present webpages. This course is NOT managed through moodle! To take the course, you must registerm, therefore, through this webpage: Go to "e-learning", select this course, and follow the instructions there. You will need an email address of the Ruhr-University or the Technical University Dortmund for registration. If you are an exchange student without such an email address or come from another university within the Ruhr-Alliance, contact us by email as instructed there. When registering, please fill in your degree program (for example, "MSC Angewandte Informatik", not just "Master of Science"). This is important information for us to manage exams and credit points. 

Autonomous robotics is an interdisciplinary research field in which embodied systems equipped with their own sensors and with actuators generate behavior that is not completely pre-programmed. Autonomous robotics thus entails perception, movement generation, as well as core elements of cognition such as making decisions, planning, and integrating multiple constraints.

This course touches on various approaches to this interdisciplinary problem. In the first half of the course, the main emphais will be on dynamical systems methods for generating movement in vehicles.  The main focus of the course is, however, on solutions to autonomous movement generation that are inspired by analogies with how nervous systems generate movement. The second half of the course will review core problems in human movement  science, including the degree of freedom problem, coordination, motor control, and the relex control of muscles. 



Course type
6 CP
Summer Term 2023
e-learning course available


Takes place every week on Thursday from 14:15 to 16:00 in room NB 3/57.
First appointment is on 06.04.2023
Last appointment is on 13.07.2023
Takes place every week on Thursday from 16:15 to 17:00 in room NB 3/57.
First appointment is on 06.04.2023
Last appointment is on 13.07.2023


The emphasis of the course is on learning concepts, practicing interdisciplinary scholarship including reading and writing at a scientific and technical level. Mathematical concepts are used throughout, so understanding these concepts is important. Mathematical skills are not critical to mastering the material, but helpful. The mathematics is mostly from the qualitative theory of dynamical systems, attractors and their instabilities. Short tutorials on some of these concepts will be provided. 

Further reading

Readings will be posted on this web page. Also have a look at the web page of the Dynamic  Field Theory community that is interested in related problems and solutions. There you find more exercises, reading material, slides and lecture videos that have some overlap with the lecture.

Teaching Units

Lecture slides Introduction/motivation
Dynamical systems tutorial
Lecture slides Dynamical systems tutorial
Video Dynamical systems tutorial
Exercises Exercise 1: Dynamical Systems Tutorial
Review of previous lectures
Document Review
Video Review of previous lectures

Review of previous lectures

Lecture slides Navigation
Video Navigation
Human movement and its neural basis
Lecture slides Human motor control Part 1
Video Human motor control Part 1

This is last year's video. The lecture is not in inverted classroom format, but this video may help in reviewing the material. 

Lecture slides Human motor control Part 2

The Institut für Neuroinformatik (INI) is a central research unit of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. We aim to understand the fundamental principles through which organisms generate behavior and cognition while linked to their environments through sensory systems and while acting in those environments through effector systems. Inspired by our insights into such natural cognitive systems, we seek new solutions to problems of information processing in artificial cognitive systems. We draw from a variety of disciplines that include experimental approaches from psychology and neurophysiology as well as theoretical approaches from physics, mathematics, electrical engineering and applied computer science, in particular machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision.

Universitätsstr. 150, Building NB, Room 3/32
D-44801 Bochum, Germany

Tel: (+49) 234 32-28967
Fax: (+49) 234 32-14210