CS 326 - Topics in Advanced Robotic Manipulation

Humanoid robots 
Humanoid robots 

Course Description

This course provides a survey of the most important and influential concepts in autonomous robotic manipulation. It includes classical concepts that are still widely used and recent approaches that have changed the way we look autonomous manipulation. We cover approaches towards motion planning and control using visual and tactile perception as well as machine learning. This course is especially concerned with new approaches for overcoming challenges in generalization from experience, exploration of the environment, and learning representation so that these methods can scale to real problems. Students are expected to present one paper in a tutorial, debate an approach championed by a paper once from the Pro and once from the Con side. They are also expected to propose an original research project.

This year, the course will be given online with live lectures through zoom (links on canvas). The goal is to only have the interactive parts of the course in zoom (Q&A for foundational and tutorial papers, debates). Presentations of the tutorial papers will be available on demand.

Students are recommended to have taken courses covering at least one of the following subjects: Robotics, Computer Vision, Machine Learning, Control, Filtering and Recursive Estimation, Optimization. Recommended Prerequisites are CS131, CS223A, CS229 or equivalents.

Course Information

  • Fall 2020

  • Location: Zoom (see Canvas for links)

  • Times: Tue, Thu 10:30 AM - 11:50 AM


CS326 will be offered for 3-4 units for either a letter grade or credit/no credit. Students registering for the 4 unit version of the course will be required to spend at least 30 additional hours implementing their course project proposal and preparing the paper for a peer-reviewed conference submission (actual submission is not required).

Expected Learning Outcome

As part of this course, students will:

  1. Obtain a broad fundamental understanding of concepts in autonomous, robotic manipulation.

  2. Read, review and critique technical papers, design a tutorial, present a tutorial and debate once for the Pro and Con side (assessed by written reviews, course presentation and debates).

  3. Become familiar with the open research questions in the subject area, pose new research questions, and write a proposal (assessed by project proposal and presentation).

Expected Work Required by Students

The course is organized in debates each revolving around one paper and the particular approach put forward. Each student shall

  • Evaluate each foundational paper in a short review

  • Present one tutorial paper + background in a 10-15min tutorial

  • Take the Pro side for an approach taken in a paper of choice in a class debate

  • Take the Con side for an approach taken in a paper of choice in a class debate

  • Develop a research proposal that adresses an open research question identified during the course

  • Review the research proposal of one of your peers

  • (4 units) Implement the project proposal and prepare a paper for a peer-reviewed conference submission

Reading Material

The course sessions will review papers that are available for free through Stanford's subscription. For information on how to access readings while off campus, click here.


Tutorial Presentation: 20%

  • 20% Present one paper + background

Debating: 25%

  • 12.5% Debate for the Pro side

  • 12.5% Debate for the Con side

Reviews: 25%

  • 25% Short written reviews per paper

Project Proposal: 30%

  • 1% Draft Proposal

  • 9% Written Proposal

  • 10% Presentation

  • 10% Peer Review

Students with Disabilities

Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is made. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066, URL: http:studentaffairs.stanford.edu/oae)