Carnegie Mellon University Personal Robotics Lab

RI 16-843: Manipulation Algorithms

Instructors: Siddhartha Srinivasa (siddh --

Lectures: M/W, 1:30-2:50, NSH 3002


This is an advanced graduate-level class on the theory and algorithms that enable robots to physically manipulate their world, on their own or in collaboration with people. The class will first focus on functional aspects of manipulation, such as synthesizing robust and stable grasps for dexterous hands, the geometry of manipulation configuration spaces, and motion planning in these space. Moving forward, we will discuss additional requirements that arise from performing manipulation tasks collaboratively with people: moving from functional to optimal motion, learning from demonstration, and coordination via understanding and expressing intent.

Course Syllabus

Important Dates

October 12
Project proposals due
November 15
Mid-term report due
December 7
Final presentations
December 9
Final presentations
December 21
Final report due
December 23
Final grades due


# Day Date Topic Reading Notes
1MAug 31 Introduction Creation Myths: The Beginnings of Robotics Research, Mason, IEEE RAM 19(2), 2012. URL
The Summer Vision Project, Papert, AIM, 1966. URL
2WSep 2 Grasping Chapter 5 Multifingered Hand Kinematics, A Mathematical Introduction to Robotic Manipulation, Murray, Li, Sastry, 1994. URL Lecture
3MSep 7 No class - CMU holiday
4WSep 9 Grasp Metrics The condition for contact grasp stability, Montana, ICRA 1991. PDF Lecture
5MSep 14 Student Presentations Divish Ajmani - Grasp Planning: How to Choose a Suitable Task Wrench Space, Ch. Borst, M. Fischer and G. Hirzinger, PDF
David Butterworth - Task-Oriented Optimal Grasping by Multifingered Robot Hands, Li and Sastry, PDF
Shen Li - Knowledge-Based Prehension: Capturing Human Dexterity, Iberall et al., PDF
6WSep 16 Grasp Planning Grasping, Prattichizzo and Trinkle 2008. PDF Lecture
7MSep 21 Student Presentations Clint Liddick - Automatic Grasp Planning Using Shape Primitives, Miller et al., PDF
Devdatta Narote - Grasp Synthesis in Cluttered Environments for Dexterous Hands, Berenson and Srinivasa, PDF
Lerrel Pinto - Data-driven grasping, Goldfeder and Allen, PDF
8WSep 23 Configuration Space Spatial Planning: A Configuration Space Approach, Lozano-Perez, 1980. PDF Lecture
9MSep 28 Student Presentations Rachel Holladay - Deadlock-Free and Collision-Free Coordination of Two Robot Manipulators, O'Donnell and Lozano Perez, PDF
Navyata Sanghvi - Real-Time Configuration Space Transforms for Obstacle Avoidance, Newman and Branicky, PDF
Divish Ajmani - A simple motion-planning algorithm for general robot manipulators, Lozano Perez, PDF
10WSep 30 Configuration Space Obstacles Spatial Planning: A Configuration Space Approach, Lozano-Perez, 1980. PDF Lecture
11MOct 5 No class - Sidd out of town
12WOct 7 Guest lecture: Aaron Johnson Self-Manipulation
13MOct 12 Student Presentations David Butterworth - Passive force closure and its computation in compliant-rigid grasps, A. Shapiro, E. Rimon, and J. W. Burdick, PDF
Shen Li - Experiments with nonholonomic manipulation, Srinivasa, Siddhartha S., Christopher R. Baker, Elisha Sacks, Grigority B. Reshko, Matthew T. Mason, and Michael Erdmann, PDF
14WOct 14 Manipulation Configuration Spaces An Approach to Autonomous Robot Assembly, Koditschek, 1994. PDF Lecture
15MOct 19 Student Presentations Devdatta Narote - Real-Time Configuration Space Transforms for Obstacle Avoidance, Newman and Branicky, PDF
Clint Liddick - On Multi-Arm Manipulation Planning, Koga and Latombe, PDF
16WOct 21 Manipulation Configuration Spaces Manipulation Planning with Probabilistic Roadmaps, Simeon et al., 2004. PDF Lecture
17MOct 26 Student Presentations Lerell Pinto - Planning Among Movable Obstacles with Artificial Constraints, Stilman and Kuffner, PDF
18WOct 28 Guest lecture: Michael Koval Planning Under Uncertainty Slides
19MNov 2 Student Presentations Rachel Holladay - A Hybrid Approach to Intricate Motion, Manipulation and Task Planning, Cambon, Alami, and Gravot, PDF
Divish Ajmani - An exploration of sensorless manipuation, Erdmann and Mason, PDF
20WNov 4 Exact Roadmaps Combinatorial Motion Planning, Lavalle [Chapter 6], 2006. PDF Lecture
21MNov 9 Student Presentations Shen Li - Path planning Strategies for a Point Mobile Automaton Moving Amidst Unknown Obstacles of Arbitrary Shape, Lumelsky and Stepanov, PDF, Helpful slides
David Butterworth - Retraction: a new approach to motion planning, O'Dunlaing, Sharir and Yap, PDF
22WNov 11 Approximate Roadmaps Analysis of Probabilistic Roadmaps for Path Planning, Kavraki, Kolountzakis, and Latombe, 1998. PDF Lecture
23MNov 16 Student Presentations Devdatta Narote - A randomized approach to robot path planning based on lazy evaluation, Bohlin and Kavraki, PDF
Clint Liddick - Visibility based probabilistic roadmaps for motion planning, Simeon, Laumond, Nissoux, PDF
24WNov 18 Single-query Planners Path Planning in Expansive Configuration Spaces, Hsu, Latombe, and Motwani 1999. PDF
Randomized Kinodynamic Planning, Lavalle and Kuffner 1999. PDF
25MNov 23 Student Presentations Lerell Pinto - Creating high-quality paths for motion planning, Geraerts and Overmars, PDF
Rachel Holladay - A single-query bi-directional probabilistic roadmap planner with lazy collision checking, Sanchez and Latombe, PDF
26WNov 25 No class - CMU holiday
27MNov 30 No class
28WDec 2 Guest lecture: Chris Dellin Lazy Motion Planning on Graphs Lecture
Planning in Cost Spaces Creating high-quality paths for motion planning, Geraerts and Overmars, 2007. PDF
Approaches for Heuristically Biasing RRT Growth, Urmson and Simmons, 2003. PDF
Anytime RRTs, Ferguson and Stentz, 2006. PDF
Sampling-based algorithms for optimal motion planning, Karaman and Frazzoli, 2011. PDF
Planning with Constraints Path Planning on Manifolds using Randomized Higher-Dimensional Continuation, 2010. PDF Lecture
29MDec 7 Final Presentations Divish Ajmani -
David Butterworth -
Shen Li -
30WDec 9 Final Presentations Devdatta Narote -
Clint Liddick -
Lerell Pinto -