Course Behavior-Based Robotics

Bachelor PsychoBiology

This is the information of Winter 2020-2021

This year the course will be given in a hybrid form due to the Corona-crisis. The number of sessions in the robotlab will be limited, which we will try to replace with development based on simulation and dataset.

The course was first given in the academic year 2015-2016. The information on academic year's 2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 are also still available. The procedure to apply for this course is explained on a page for PsychoBiology students and on a page for students from other educational programmes.


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.


The detailed schedule can be found at The material for the assignments can be found Canvas.


For this course, a reader is produced containing the following four chapters of the Springer Handbook of Robotics.

In the UvA domain (or with vpn) also the other chapters of the electronic version of this handbook is available via EBSCOhost.

Reading guide

Those 4 chapters are your starting point for your essay, so should be read in the first two weeks of the course. .


The course is this year evaluated by the participants with a 8.3:


Last updated March 16, 2021

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