Practical Course – Building a Modular Robot

Organizers: Prof. Matthias Althoff

Contact: roman.hoelzl (at)

Modul: IN0012, IN2106

Registration: Via Matching System 

Type: Practical Course

Semester: 20S

ECTS: 10

Time & Location: Kick-off: 4 February 2020, room 03.07.011

Update 04.02.'20: Preliminary meeting slides.

Deploying industrial robots for production means spending vast amounts of money, such that modular robot systems are more and more sought after. Using modular parts, it would possible to generate robot systems which are adaptable to many different tasks, therefore reducing costs. The disadvantage with traditional robots is that even for small production adjustments the whole application needs re-evaluation and re-calibration. With modular robot systems, we automatically evaluate and choose the optimal configuration of modules in case of task changes. Module parameters are stored onto the robot modules and can be automatically retrieved by a central unit, such that a modular robot is able to self-calibrate and able to generate its own controller. 

The objective of this practical course is to design and to build a modular robot for industrial application. Organised in interdisciplinary teams, students solve a variety of design challenges in an engineering manner. In the first phase, the teams come up with possible solutions for their assigned design problem. In the second phase, these solutions are implemented, or built using equipment from our laboratory and the MakerSpace. In the third phase, the working solutions are integrated into the final product.

Upon successful completion of this laboratory, students will be able to understand and apply the theory behind collaborative, modular robots. In addition, they learn about robot programming and control, mechanics, kinematics and dynamics, and user interfaces. Upon completion of the module, students will be able to plan and execute a project as a team.

Beneficial knowledge:

Students with backgrounds in computer science, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering are all welcome. Previous knowledge/skills in some the following topics is beneficial:

- Robotics

- real-time systems

- MATLAB/Simulink

- C/C++


- robot control

- 3D printing

- Mechanics, multi-body systems

- Electrical drive technology

- Augmented Reality, ideally with Apple AR Kit

- iOS/Android Programming


The registration will be held over the matching system of the Department of Informatics. However, personal applications will be preferred in the matching system. Please specify your motivation and robotics related skills, your CV and transcript of records via email to roman.hoelzl (at)