Published: Dec. 16, 2022 By

Professors Nikolaus Correll, Bradley Hayes, Christoffer Heckman and Alessandro Roncone have received a recognition award from the College of Engineering and Applied Science for their work, Introduction to Autonomous Robots: Mechanisms, Sensors, Actuators, and Algorithms, an open textbook focusing on computational principles of autonomous robots.

The award was created to recognize the achievements of CEAS faculty who author or co-author a significant educational textbook. 

The textbook is being published this month by MIT Press and it is also available on GitHub via a Creative Commons 4.0 (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.

Under that license type, readers can use images and content from the book for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution, but cannot post compiled versions of the book online. This includes labs and slides to help instructors create their own introductory courses, said Roncone.

"As many students rely on YouTube videos and their phones as primary reading devices, the classical textbook becomes more and more obsolete. Freely available illustrations are critical for actively transitioning into new formats, carrying CU and the MIT Press forward," Correll said.

Correll said their textbook model is forward-thinking, providing the best trade-off between a freely available resource that folks can contribute to while also providing a consistent curriculum that others can rely upon. 

Roncone said he agreed. 

"Robotics is a fast-moving field, and the future of robotics education will strongly benefit from a model that combines a traditional editorial process with open-source community engagement that magnifies our impact," he said.

The curriculum the textbook lays out is robot-agnostic, focusing not on the particular specifications of one robot's architecture, but on the underlying mathematics and logical decisions that govern autonomous robotic decisions. 

The book is also aimed at undergraduate students, which is notable as most robotics books leave algorithm design to a graduate student audience. This resource has already been used by undergraduate students over the past several years through classes taught by the co-authoring professors.