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Robotics Literature

These are some books that I have found useful. Where possible I have added links where to get them.

Valentino Braitenberg - Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology


The one book that got me interested in robotics. And it was all a misunderstanding, really :) .
Braitenberg is using little imaginery cybernetic vehicles to demonstrate that psychological observations can be explained and simulated by rather simple technical means. He is not at all interested in the vehicles themselves. Whereas I right from the first page thought about how I could build vehicles like these and where I could get memory wire :)
My trike is in fact nothing but a Braitenbergian vehicle.
Since this is the foundation of my interest I consider this book a 'must read'.

Karl Lunt - Build Your Own Robot

[Build Your Own Robot]

One of the first robotics books I bought. By now it's about 10 years old. Actually it's a compilation of Karl's articles from Nuts & Volts. Its great fun to read and full of tips, tricks, schematics. A lot of the projects are using the 68HC11 chip, which I tried but didn't really fall in love with (as others have done). My BotBoard2Bot is using it. Very useful book.

Gordon McComb - Robot Builders Bonanza

[Robot Builders Bonanza]

Well, I've still got the second edition (which I loved to read and am still occasionally using as a compendium). When writing this I had a look at Amazon's presentation of the third edition which was published in 2006 and features Myke Predko as co-author. Seems rather interesting. I'll probably get it.

Karl Williams - Insectronics : Build Your Own Walking Robot

[Walking Robot]

Karl presents a complete project for building a hexapod walking robot. On the way the beginner learns a lot about techniques and materials as well as sensors. Nice book. Programming is done in BASIC and for the PIC16F84 which will probably just be a starting point for further projects.

David Hrynkiw - JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels: Building Simple Robots With BEAM Technology


David gives a thourough introduction into 'simple robotics' using BEAM technology. 'BEAM' stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics and Mechanics. BEAM usually does without microprocessors and, instead, uses clever electronic (often analog) solutions. Many parts are salvaged from electronic devices (like motors and wheels from cassette tape drives). The author not only explains some basic elctronics but suggests various typical BEAM projects and gives advice where to get material. Nice reading!

Lewin A. Edwards - Open-Source Robotics and Process Control Cookbook: Designing and Building Robust, Dependable Real-time Systems

[Open Source]

Lewin introduces another facette of robotics. He is suggesting to use 'off the shelf' single board pc's to power robots. Thereby providing ample computational power while ('open source'!) on the other hand avoiding costly development tools.
Since I did think about this too I got this book but due to time constraints I have not really had a dive into this.

Ulrich Nehmzow - Mobile Robotics: A Practical Introduction

[Mobile Robotics]

I seem to have the first edition, the second appeared in 2003. Herr Nehmzow talks about how robots learn, navigate and orientate themselves in their environment. Several robots are introduced. The goal is to increase a robot's autonomy. Not for the beginner, I'm afraid.

Roland Siegwart/Illah Nourbakhsh - Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots

[Autonomous Mobile Robotics]

Professor Siegwart (from EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland) with his co-author is giving an introduction to various aspects of creating an autonomous mobile 'bot. Topics are (straight from the book's index) Locomotion, Kinematics, Perception, Localization and Navigation. No easy reading for the robotic's beginner (who has a certain lack of math, as well ;) ) but very interesting.

Dario Floreano/Claudio Mattiussi - Bio-Inspired Artificial Intelligence: Theories, Methods, and Technologies

[bioinspired AI]

Dario Floreano/Claudio Mattiussi(again from EPFL) are giving a crash course in AI as it is influenced by todays biological sciences. Topics here are evolution, cellular automata, neural and immunological systems, behavioral and collective systems (swarms). Again, no easy reading but very interesting.


Servo Magazine (periodical)


I've been reading that one right from the beginning. Servomagazine appears on a monthly basis and they cover practically all relevant topics in robotics. That includes basics like programming and practical skills an techniques as well as complete projects. The target group would be beginners and intermediates but there is usually something for everyone. The magazine is available in print and in a downloadable version. I recommend it.

Nuts & Volts (periodical)

[Nuts & Volts]

Servomagazine's sister journal. It's topics are more general, from the wide field of electronics (with occasional robotics excursions). This magazine too is available in print and for downloading. Recommendable.

Circuit Cellar (periodical)

[Circuit Cellar]

Another periodical I've been reading for quite a few years now. Like Nuts & Volts it deals with all kinds of electronics topics: measuring, analog techniques, signal processing ... and robotics, as well. The target group here are professionals, rather. But even I as an amateur get numerous suggestions and stimuli. Again available in print and for downloading. Highly Recommendable.

Elektor (periodical)


I'm reading this one in german (it is published in several languages though). They are presenting electronics projects of all kinds. It's not uninteresting stuff but I've somehow come to the impression that Elektor's not quite as professional as their american counterparts.

Electronics in General

P.Horowitz / W. Hill - The Art of Electronics


A definite classic. Although the book appeared in 1989 and therefore cannot possibly be quite up to date it is still highly recommendable. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About xyz But Were Afraid to Ask: It's in there. Amplification. ADC. CMOS. Voltage regulation. Analog applications.


Kernighan & Ritchie - C Programming Language (2nd Edition)


Well now, that's another classic. For anyone programming in 'C' (even if it is for embedded projects) a definite 'must'. Still standard.

Richard H. Barnett et al - Embedded C Programming and the Atmel AVR

[Embedded C and ATMEL AVR]

Barnett and his co-authors have written a very useful book about using the language 'C' in embedded projects together with the ATMEL AVR-Chip. Since the AVR is the chip I am using most and I am increasingly programming in 'C' this book is written for me! Especially so since the compiler that is used for the examples is the one I am using (Codevision by Pawel Hajduk). It's good reading and numerous aspects (from basics of the language to specifics of certain ATMEL chips) are covered. So I really recommend this book warmly.

Joe Pardue - C Programming for microcontrollers

[Joe Pardue - C programming]

Although Joe Pardue's book is a bit more specific in that it deals with the AVR Butterfly by ATMEL it is still very helpful in my daily programming work. The compiler here is the WinAVR compiler (which is widely used which means it is always good to know something about it ...). Very helpful for all kind of ATMEL related C-Programming. And again: good reading ... On Joe's Website ''SmileyMicros'' there are kits and additional infos to be found.

Tom Fox - Programming and Customizing the HC11 Microcontroller


I bought this book during my brief interlude with the HC11. Tom thoroughly demonstrates the use of this versatile and widespread processor. It is explained how to use a monitor and other tools or to do assembler programming. Of course the hardware is explained as well. To round things up there are 10 complete projects added (e.g. an electronic wind vane or a HC11-board for experimenting). Definitely recommended (if You're into HC11).

James W. Stewart / Kai X. Miao - The 8051 Microcontroller: Hardware, Software, and Interfacing (2nd Edition)

[Stewart Miao]

Another book about the famous 8051 family of microcontrollers. The authors put a strong accent on how to interface the chip with the 'outside world'. All the same, the chip and its characteristics are explained in detail. Recommended for experimenting with the 8051 or one of its derivates but also interesting if one is into other chips alltogether.

Jan Axelson - The Microcontroller Idea Book

[8052 idea book]

A book about/around the 8052-Basic chip, another member of the 8051-family. Lots of hardware tips, circuits, applications ... I had a look at this when I experimented with my 80C32-board. Recommendable book, even if one's past the 8052-era :)

David Benson - Easy PIC'n

[Easy PIC'n]



David Benson - PIC'n up the Pace

[PIC'n up the Pace]

I'll write about these two books together since the one is the followup to the other. I started my microcontroller experiments with the Basic Stamp but switched over to the PIC microcontroller family rather quickly. The two books mentioned were at that time quite helpful to get a foothold in this field because they explain basic features of micros and methods to deal with them. Everything's explained nicely and is well understandable for the beginner. There was also a third book but I never got to this one because I switched to other chips. Occasionally I've had problems with the author's style (but that's silly, really :) ). The chips that were used (the book appeared around 1999) are maybe a little bit outdated nowadays. But still helpful books.

Lucio Di Jasio - The Microcontroller Idea Book

[16Bit Micros in C]

My first and so far only go at the 16bit world took place in 2007: I took part in a Circuit Cellar Contest sponsored by Microchip which was  featuring various 16bit chips. In order to enhance my knowledge I got Lucio's book. Lucio is using the C30 compiler which can be downloaded for free from Microchip's website. Apart from this Microchip's Explorer16 board is introduced and various other software tools. Essential hardware feature like serial I/O and interfacing to LC-displays are explained thoroughly. Nice reading, also good for looking stuff up. Recommended. I'll come back to this one when I revive my 16bit experiments.