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Teaching » CS 599 Computational Motor Control and Biomimetic Robotics


Time and Place:

3:30-6:00 Tuesdays in GFS 221

Course Description:

This course will review and discuss fundamental and advanced topics in the control of complex movement systems with focus on robot arms and humanoid systems. The basic question which we would like to explore is what it would take to build a human-like machine that can act and react in a daily life environment. The course will address computational theories that have been developed in psychology and computational neuroscience, compare them with state-of-the-art robotics approaches, and assess new ways how to approach biomimetic robot control and the modeling of biological motor control. Skills from this course will be beneficial for applied and basic research in robotics, biomechanics, computational neuroscience, experimental psychology, and cognitive sciences. Topics of the course will include the hierarchical organization of motor control and perception, feedforward and feedback control, optimization principles, reinforce-ment learning and navigation, adaptive control and learning methods for control, pattern generators and nonlinear dynamics approaches, antagonistic control and co-contraction, servo-hypotheses and equilibrium point theories, controlling contact forces, impedance control, internal models, and advanced methods to deal with redundant systems. The topics of the course will be discussed in the context of controlling manipulators like arms, legs, bodies, and eyes.

Class Format:

The course has a seminar format, i.e., the focus is on discussions of the course materials. Due to the lack of a text book about the presented topics, there will be reading assignments for every class. Every participant will present two of the reading assignment to the class and will carry out an independent final project in an area subject to the instructor's approval. There are NO exams.


  • 2 Paper presentations: each 25%
  • 1 Project: 25%
  • Participation in the course discussions: 25%


Basic knowledge in robotics, control theory, artificial intelligence and programming in C (or another language), or permission by instructor.


Dr. Stefan Schaal
Associate Professor
University of Southern California
Ronald Tutor Hall RTH-417
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2520
phone: (213) 740 9418
email: {$ \textrm{} $}

Office Hours:

According to email arrangement with instructor {$ \textrm{} $} .

Academic Integrity:

All students are required to abide by the USC code of Academic Integrity. Violation of that Code will be dealt with as described in SCAMPUS. If you have any questions about the responsibilities of either students, faculty, or graders under this policy, contact the instructor or the Office of Student Conduct.

Disabilities and Academic Accomodations:

Students requesting academic accomodations based on a disability are required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accomodations can be obtained from DSP when adequate documentaion is filed. Please be sure the letter is delivered to the instructor (or TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is open Monday-Friday, 8:30-5:00. The office is in Student Union 301 and their phone number is (213) 740-0776.

Designed by: Nerses Ohanyan & Jan Peters
Page last modified on October 21, 2005, at 10:37 AM