Industrial automation and robotics

MSc in Management Engineering

Prof. Paolo Rocco




14:15-18:15 room BL28.11



Learning objectives and course syllabus

The goal of this course is to provide the students with a general view of the current methods and tools offered by automation technologies for the smart factory, including industrial and collaborative robotics. The course will also discuss technological aspects for the implementation of the automation systems, with specific reference to digital control, programming of logic controllers, communication protocols, and programming industrial robots.

The course fits into the overall program curriculum pursuing some of the defined general learning goals.

Specifically, at the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:

-understand the role of industrial robots in the factory, why and where they should be used in the production systems;

-use mathematics to describe the motion of a robot;

-plan a suitable motion for the robot both in free environment and in presence of obstacles;

-tune an industrial motion control system and understand the rationale and potentialities of advanced nonlinear model based control strategies;

-manage the control of the interaction of the robot with the environment, either with force or with vision sensors;

-understand and master the new trends in industrial robotics, like collaborative robotics;

-use software programs to simulate and to offline program the robots.


Course syllabus is as follows:


Automation: current and future scenarios. The industry 4.0 paradigm. Human-centric automation.

 Process automation

The control problem. The role of the dynamics in control systems. State models and transfer functions. Closed-loop control: the role of feedback. Industrial controllers. Digital control technology. Application: motion control.

 Discrete automation

Action sequencing and logic control. Task scheduling in an automation plant. The Programmable Logic Controller. Programming languages: Ladder Diagrams and Sequential Function Charts (SFC). Real-time systems.

 Communication technologies and protocols

Technologies and protocols for interconnecting industrial devices and processes: industrial ethernet and fieldbus. Protocols to provide services in industrial environments.

 Industrial and collaborative robotics

Industrial robots. Selection of a robot based on the application. Robot kinematics, motion planning and control. Tools for robot motion programming. Collaborative robotics: advantages in human-robot collaboration. Safety standards. Examples and applications.

 AI-driven production control

Methods and tools for production control in mixed human-robot lines, based on digital twins of the plant and closed-loop scheduling/dispatching rules.



Basics in linear algebra and calculus.



K. J. Astrom and R. M. Murray, Feedback systems - An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers

B. Siciliano, L. Sciavicco, L. Villani, G. Oriolo: Robotics: Modelling, Planning and Control, 3rd Ed., Springer, 2009 (in English)

Lecture notes



Introduction to the Course

Introduction to Automation

Dynamic Systems

Linear Systems

Feedback Control Systems

Logic Control: the PLC

Sequential Function Chart

Distributed Control Systems

Industrial Internet of Things (Prof. Matteo Cesana)

Introduction to the Industrial Robotics

Robot Kinematics

Motion Planning

Motion Control

Collaborative Robotics

AI-Driven Production Control


Lab sessions


In order to participate in the lab activities, students need to bring their own laptop with them.

You need to install your own copy of MATLAB/Simulink. Instructions how to create a Matlab account and download and install your free copy of MATLAB are available here:

Make sure that the Control Systems Toolbox is included in your suite (it should be, unless you deselect it on purpose).

You do not need any internet connection during the lab session.


ABB RobotStudio

RobotStudio is a professional virtual environment for offline programming of robots, interfaced with a virtual controller.

Please install beforehand your own copy of RobotStudio. You can download the software at the following address:


Please notice that it is a somewhat heavy download (about 2 GB). Also, the program runs only in a Microsoft Windows PC.

Following the instructions available at the above web page, you should fill a form to request your own copy of the software and then, after installation, activate a free license that is valid for 30 days. Interested students can ask us for a license for educational purposes (we have several of them).


Once you have installed RobotStudio, you also need to install the appropriate RobotWare for our lab sessions. Follow these instructions:

 -open RobotStudio

-select the tab "Add-ins"

-select the version 6.11.02 of the RobotWare IRC5 and install it


Once the installation is complete, by selecting again the tab "Add-ins", the installed RobotWare will show up under the installed packages. Please proceed to the installation of the RobotWare before the lab session.


Students will take a written examination, consisting of open-ended questions.

Texts of exams will be published here.

Results of the exams will be notified to the students through the online services.

January 14, 2022 SOLUTION

Training example 1: text solution

Training example 2: text solution

Training example 3: text solution