MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

About AM

In the Autonomous Machines thread, you will design, build, and deploy mechanical systems, software, and autonomy algorithms for real-world autonomous machines and robots. Our program of study encompasses several project-based classes that help you develop your individual and group skills for working on the types of complex projects you will encounter in industrial settings. Along with our project-based classes, we will support your pursuit of undergraduate research in autonomy and robotics at MIT through our connections with research faculty and MIT-UROP. In addition to our on-campus activities, you will have opportunities for summer internships in autonomy/robotics with our corporate sponsors.



MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

The Elements of Autonomous Machines

Autonomous machines integrate mechanical and informational components by combining the physical constraints of a vehicle with the control, planning, navigation, and perception algorithms required to make them operate independently. The creation of an effective autonomous vehicle requires knowledge of kinematics, dynamics, modeling, control, simulation, design, electronics, sensors, algorithms, software, human-robot interaction, systems engineering, and experimentation. 

MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

What Makes a Machine Autonomous

An autonomous machine uses sensory information to determine the location/orientation of itself as well as the location/orientation of other objects within its vicinity. It then uses this acquired information for planning, navigation, and/or manipulation purposes independent of human intervention. These purposes include transportation and intricate manipulating tasks.

MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Hands-On Experience

Participants in the Autonomous Machines thread will get hands-on experience through a series of projects with escalating complexity. Starting with individual projects involving small-scale software development for embedded microcontrollers, you will then move on to team-level design of perception and planning for automated quadrotors or mini racecars. Finally, the entire class will build a scaled and automated mobility-on-demand system as a semester-long project in the senior year.

Requirements

In order to gain the NEET Autonomous Machines certificate from the School of Engineering, students need to complete the following requirements (all classes are of 12 units unless specified otherwise):

Sophomore Year

Fall: 16.632 Introduction to Autonomous Machines (6 units)Spring: 2.S007 Design & Manufacturing I: Autonomous Machines

Junior Year

Fall or Spring: Choose One Project Class from the following: 6.141/16.405 Robotics: Science and Systems 6.115 Microcomputer Project Laboratory 2.12 Introduction to Robotics 2.74 Bio-inspired Robotics 

Senior Year

Fall: 16.634 Senior Seminar (preparation for 16.84, 3 units)Spring: 16.84 Advanced Autonomous Robotic Systems (a relevant internship or UROP, or industry experience may be substituted by petition)

Foundation Subjects

Mechanics, choice of: 16.001, 2.001, Self-Study Statics Module, Statics Proficiency ExamIntro to Programming, choice of: (6.0001+6.0002), 2.086, 6.009, 6.01Controls, choice of: 2.004, 6.302, 16.06

Example Projects

MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Smart Car Exploration

In our Intro to Autonomous Machines seminar, you will have the opportunity to explore the use of a variety of sensors for autonomous control. One project in the seminar utilizes a smart car with an ultrasonic sensor to measure distances, an IR encoder to measure wheel speeds, an IR sensor to measure light/dark thresholds for following paths, and an inertial measurement unit/magnetometer to determine orientation, velocity, and acceleration.

MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Imitation Learning

Through the process of imitation learning, students in 6.141/16.405 teach their mini racecar how to drive autonomously by training it with a TensorFlow neural network. This neural network, based on the NVIDIA PilotNet architecture, processes the data, which provides a map between previously stored human observations and immediate racecar action.


Classes

We have a series of 12-unit project classes that AM scholars take throughout the three-year program. These classes provide you the foundation for mastering the fundamental aspects of autonomous machines and robotics: a) robust mechanical design, b) computer programming, and c) autonomy algorithms.

MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

2S.007: Design and Manufacturing I-Autonomous Machines a 12-Unit Project Class for Sophomores

In 2.S007 you will design, fabricate, and program your own semi-autonomous mobile robot that navigates and manipulates objects on a gameboard that focuses on the elementary aspects of autonomous control. Our class is a special section of 2.007 which has been a keystone class at MIT for over four decades, impacting generations of students. Our NEET-AM section has a mixture of Course 2 (mechanical), Course 6 (electrical engineering and computer science), and Course 16 (aerospace and aeronautical) students who are interested in building autonomous robots. 

MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

6.141/16.405: Robotics: Science and Systems a 12-Unit Project Class for Juniors

In this class you learn the fundamentals of sensing, vision processing, perception, path planning, and machine learning by working in small groups to design and implement autonomous navigation algorithms on a mini racecar. Weekly meetings consist of three 1-hour technical lectures and two 2-hour lab sessions.












MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

16.84: Advanced Autonomous Robotic Systems a 12-Unit Project Class for Seniors

This final project class operates like a startup company, where you will develop a product that embodies a central autonomous machine component. Focusing on technology development that includes mechanical, electronics, and software, you will create a product that satisfies real-world performance goals. Along with technology development, you will develop a business model that concludes with a demonstration and investor pitch.

Leadership

Prof. Jonathan How - MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Prof. Jonathan How

Founding Thread Lead


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Prof. Sertac Karaman - MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Prof. Sertac Karaman

Thread Co-Lead

On sabbatical

Aeronautics and Astronautics

Dr. Greg Long - MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Dr. Gregory Long

Lead Instructor, NEET


School of Engineering

Justin Lavallee - MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Justin Lavallee

Lead Instructor, NEET


School of Engineering

 Scholars Leadership Team

Prof. Jonathan How - MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Leilani Trautman

Communications Officer

Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceClass of 2021

Prof. Sertac Karaman - MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Melissa Calvert

Industry Liaison Officer

Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceClass of 2022

Dr. Greg Long - MIT NEET Autonomous Machines

Tim Magoun

Industry Liaison Officer

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Class of 2022

FAQ

  • Who is eligible for the Autonomous Machines thread?

    MIT rising sophomores who plan to major in courses 2-A/2, 6-2, and 16-ENG will find it easiest to fit our foundation and project classes in their academic schedules; however, students in other closely related majors are also welcome.

  • How many students are you planning to take?

    We usually cap our new enrollment at 35 new AM scholars per year.

  • Will I get a certificate?

    Yes, upon completing your SB degree at MIT, you will also obtain a NEET Certificate in Autonomous Machines from the School of Engineering.

  • What benefits may I expect from participating in the Autonomous Machines thread?

    By participating in the AM thread, you will progress through a series of projects with the focused intent of acquiring the knowledge and skills to design, program, and control a variety of autonomous and robotic devices. Your close association with like-minded MIT students and faculty in our thread will accelerate your progress and expose you to opportunities difficult to obtain elsewhere.