Course Behavior-Based Robotics

Bachelor PsychoBiology

This is the information of Winter 2016-2017

The course was first given in the academic year 2015-2016. The current course can be found here.


This course gives an introduction to the principles, design and practice of intelligent behavior-based autonomous robot systems. Following a discussion of the relevant biological and psychological models of behavior, reactive behaviors are used as building blocks for more complex behaviors. With the more advanced behaviors the robot gets animal-like capacities as survival, adaption and interaction. Building such artificial system in practice could lead to interesting questions about the unique aspects of actual biological behavior.

Learning objectives

  • To develop an understanding of the possible relationships between animal behavior and robot control.
  • To examine a wide range of biologically motivated robotic systems.
  • To obtain a basic understanding of the design choices related to behavior-based robotic systems.
  • To determine the appropriate role of world and self-knowledge within behavior-based robotic systems.
  • To study biological models of hybrid reactive/deliberative systems.
  • To explore the role of expectations, focus of attention and active perception within behavior-based perception.
  • To understand why robots need to have learning capabilities.
  • To recognize the different effects of perception and learning inside social behavior when compared to solitary robot behaviors.
  • To consider the consequences of a robotic mind with regard to thought, consciousness, emotion and imagination.

Practical skills

In addition to the theoretical framework, you will also develop your programming skills by implementing behaviors directly on humanoid robots. A short summary of these objectives can be found back in this Study Guide.


  • Week 2: Chapter 1: Whence Behavior?
  • Week 2: Chapter 2: Animal behavior
  • Week 2: Chapter 3: Robot Behavior
  • Week 3: Chapter 4: Behaviour Based Architectures
  • Week 3: Chapter 5: Representations and Memory
  • Week 3: Chapter 6: Hybrid Deliberation and Reactivity
  • Week 3: Chapter 7: Perception Systems (Part 1)
  • Week 4: Chapter 7: Perception Systems (Part 2)
  • Week 4: Chapter 8: Adaptive Behavior
  • Week 4: Chapter 9: Social Behavior
  • Week 4: Chapter 10: Beyond Behavior


Ronald C. Arkin 'Behavior-Based Robotics', The MIT Press, 1998.

Additional Reading

Reading guide

  • Sunday January 8th: page 121
  • Sunday January 15th: page 265
  • Sunday January 22th: page 443
  • Tuesday January 24th: page 307-328 of 'Behavior-Based Systems'



The course is this year evaluated by the participants with a 6.4:


Last updated November 30, 2017

o This web-page and the list of participants to this course is maintained by Arnoud Visser (
Faculty of Science
University of Amsterdam