Robotics Practicals

Teaching Robots to Accomplish a Manipulation Task

Section Microtechnique; – Master Level



Prof. Aude Billard  
LASA Laboratory

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – EPFL

Office Hours: Monday, 14:00 to 16:00, by appointment. (office : ME A3 393)

[email protected]

tel:  +41 (21) 693.54.64
fax: +41 (21) 693.78.50

CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland



Michael Bombile

[email protected]

tel:  +41 (21) 693 56 93

Time and Location

Monday, 13:15 – 17:00 in room ME A3 484

The reports should be uploaded on moodle one week after the last exercise.

Grades for the practicals will be posted 3 weeks after the practicals.

Project Description

Objective: In this robotic practical, you will be teaching a robot to build a tower by stacking several objects on top of each other. Each group is provided with five objects with different shapes and sizes. In order to accomplish this task, the robot must be capable of 1) identifying the objects; 2) estimate the location and pose of the objects; 3) generate appropriate motion to pick up each object and stack these on top of other objects.
You will learn how you can teach a robot through human demonstration to acquire the first and third competence. The second competence, namely estimating the position and orientation of the object is beyond the scope of the practical and hence, you will be provided with a ready to use package to perform this step.

Structure: The practical composed of 3 main steps:

  • Training your object identification model.
  • Teaching the robot how to perform reaching and placing movements.
  • Implement your code to let the robot to build a stable and high tower.

Timeline: This practical lasts 12 hours (three weeks x 4 hours). In each week, you tackle one of the steps mentioned above.

Materials: Each student group will receive the following:

  • A 6-DoF Katana Robot.
  • 5 objects with different shape and size to build your tower.
  • Two web-cameras for object recognition.
  • Some tools (screw-driver, etc)
The experiment set-up

Course Material

  • Theoretical material for the practical and the assignment sheet can be found HERE.