Research Proposal

The objective of writing this research project proposal is to identify open question in robotic manipulation research and to develop an approach towards adressing it. The choice of topic is up to you, but it should be related to the general theme of the course. As part of the project you should:

  • describe and motivate an approach (built upon existing work or newly developed),

  • describe the application of this approach to a problem of interest related to robotic manipulation, and

  • develop the experiments (hypothesis, scenarios, baselines and metrics) to analyze the performance of the approach.

Your topic may be related to your graduate research or another class project (as long as permission is granted by the instructor of your other class); however, you must make the relationship to your other work clear in your proposal and final paper and describe how you have extended this research for this class. If you have difficulty finding an appropriate topic, feel free to talk with the course staff during office hours or post to Piazza.

Here you can find some example project ideas.

Format of the Proposal

Clearly motivate and describe the problem to be solved, the approach to be taken, and how you will measure success. Please reference any prior work that you plan to build upon. A first (minimum) one page version will be due October 17 to ensure the quality of the direction of the proposal so that you have a chance to refine the final product.

The final proposal is worth 10% of your final grade and should be written in the following form:

For formatting the final and the draft proposal use the paper templates from here. When using Latex, feel free to use pdflatex to compile the PDF. For the one-page draft proposal, you don't need a separate abstract. Consider the one-page draft as an extended abstract.

Pages listed below are based on double-column IEEE paper format. We expect your proposal to be 4-6 pages long. We will remove points if you go above this 6 page limit.

ABSTRACT (about 150 words)

This is the most important section of any report and should summarize the key points of your paper.


Briefly describe what you will be presenting and why it is important.


Present a review of previous research on this topic. Do not simply review a number of individual papers, but try to synthesize what has been done. This section should be in a form such that the current state-of-the-art is easily appreciated. State the shortcomings in our current knowledge, and in a final paragraph or two suggest several areas that require further research.


From areas suggested at the end of the previous section, state concisely and specifically a particular problem that you propose to address. In broad terms, describe how you might investigate this problem with experiments, computer simulations, or both. Point out the difficulties that you may expect to encounter in this research. State what you believe will be the significance of your proposed research. Provide a realistic timetable for the completion of the work. Include figures that help to illustrate your hypotheses, methods, or experimental design.


Your paper should be referenced using primarily journal articles or conference papers. References and reference citations should conform to the style of IEEE.

Research Project

If you are going for the 4 unit version of the course, your task is to implement your project proposal. It may be done in any programming language, and you may use any libraries or software available to you. If you have difficulty finding an appropriate topic, feel free to talk with the course staff during office hours or post to Piazza.


On October 17 at 11:59pm you will need to submit the initial one-page draft in PDF through Canvas. The final proposal is due Dec 5 at 11:59pm.


The final proposal is worth 10% of your final grade. It will be graded based on the following criteria:

  • Significance of contribution

  • Structure of paper

  • Writing quality

  • Appropriateness of the approach

  • Clarity of drawings, graphs, and tables

  • Appropriateness of abstract

  • Quality of discussion of potential outcomes

  • Adequacy of references and discussion of prior work


You will present your research proposal during the last few class meetings. The allotted time is 10 minutes if you are taking the class for 3 units followed by 2 minutes of QA (Total = 12 min), and 15 mins if taking the class for 4 units followed by 5 minutes of QA (Total = 20 min). Time constraints will be enforced. You may use your own laptop or you may submit your presentation on Canvas. The presentation is worth 10% of your final grade.

Peer Review

Peer review is an important part of science and engineering. Understanding the review process will make you a better writer. As part of this class, you will be randomly assigned two research proposals to peer review in the spirit of a real conference or journal article review. The task of the referee is outlined in this article by Alan Jay Smith. Although you will not be making recommendations for or against publication, you will need to answer the questions listed in Section 4 of Smith's article.

Each of your reviews will be 1-2 pages each and will be worth 10% of your grade. You will be graded according to the quality and constructiveness of your review. Your reviews will be provided anonymously to the authors, so please do not include your name in your review. If you would like to nominate one or both of the papers for the “best paper award,” please note this in your review.

Please submit your two reviews in PDF format to Canvas.