16.30 is an MIT class that teaches feedback control systems theory with palm-size drones. Every student taking 16.30 is given one of Parrot’s palm-size Rolling Spider drones, which they can take home. The students can complete laboratory exercises at home. They work in teams to do projects, most which they develop at school with the instructors. We believe that this new “inverted laboratory” experience with lab exercises at home and projects in class improves learning experience and leads to high quality projects inspired by real engineering problems.
The first MIT offering of the class was in Fall 2015. The second offering will be in Fall 2016. A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offering will also follow soon. Please follow the website for updates.
Outline of the Website
This website describes our course, and provides various materials for those who would like to learn how to fly drones on their own or those who would like to replicate a version of course in their institutions.
- Drones: The class worked with Parrot’s Palm-size Rolling Spider Drones. These drones are well suited for teaching purposes. They are safe and reliable. In a very small footprint, they include real-world sensors, such as a pressure-sensing altimeter, an ultrasonic range finders and a camera. The details are explained in the Drones page.
- Software: Together with Parrot, we developed software that makes these drones easily programmable. Parrot LLC provided a custom firmware that allows programming computer-vision-in-the-loop control systems into the drone. At MIT, we built a Matlab/Simulink toolbox around this firmware. Using our toolbox, students can design state estimation and control systems in Simulink, automatically generate embedded C code, and download their code to the drone for experimentation. They can also analyze flight data, which they download seamlessly. The details are explained in the Software page.
- Labs: We developed three simple laboratory exercises for warm up with our embedded software. To this end, we provide lab handouts and video lectures, with which students can easily take the first step in implementing the control systems. The details are provided in the Labs page.
- Projects: MIT students have done a number of projects using the Parrot drones. The projects range from flipping the drone to line following. While some are done using only our Matlab/Simulink toolbox, some utilize computer vision algorithms which students implemented in the C programming language directly. The details and videos can be found in the Projects page.
Slides Explaining the Class
The following presentation describes the class in a 12-minute video. Click here to view the slides in the PDF format. (Please feel free to email Prof. Sertac Karaman for a Keynote/Powerpoint version. We are happy to provide the raw videos.)
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