Because robotics is such a wide field, I want to help you find relevant courses for the field of robotics that you want to get into.
Robotics is such a wide field. You need to know (and be very good) at many skills. I’d say that coding is probably the most important skill you’ll need as a Robotics Engineer. This is especially true if you’re looking to get into Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, or applications using the Robot Operating System (ROS).
What coding language should I learn (for robotics)?
If you’re just getting started with Robotics, and your goal is to design software applications for robots, then I highly recommend starting with Python and graduating to C/C++. Don’t waste your time learning other languages because they won’t be used as much as Python and C++ in the Robotics Industry.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to get into Industrial Automation and Controls, I would highly recommend focusing on PLC languages such as Ladder Logic, Structured Text, and Function Block. (In that order.)
It’s also worth learning how to set up and program popular Industrial Robots (FANUC, Universal Robots, Yaskawa, KUKA, etc.) and HMI’s. I wouldn’t necessarily focus too much on traditional coding languages because they don’t transfer directly to PLC programming unless you want to.
If you’re interested in learning a traditional language, I recommend Python because it’s easier to learn, and some companies have their homebrewed APIs that run Python.
Now with that said, I also wanted to explain why you might want to take an online course rather than just following random tutorials you find online.
Why should you take an online coding course?
Online coding courses can help you gain skills faster than trying to learn to code on your own. A course can guide you through topics you need to learn but don’t know what you need to learn (aka the “unknown unknowns”). Plus, courses have a natural flow and order. That way you’re introduced to coding topics in a way that makes sense.
If you want to learn to code robots fast, I recommend this 3-step process.
- Take an online course.
- Read a book on that subject.
- Practice, Practice, Practice! (Repeat!)
Once you have the fundamentals of coding, you can repeat this process for other languages or subjects you want to learn. Next, let’s take a look at some popular websites where you can learn to code robots online.
Popular Websites to Learn Robotics Online
Like the most popular website to learn to code, you can also find awesome courses on robotics. Here are my favorite platforms to find robotics programming courses.
1. Learn Robotics (and work directly with a Robotics Engineer)
Yep, I’m a bit biased on this one. But I believe Learn Robotics has the best online courses for robotics. Currently, there are two full-length courses on creating electronic prototypes and building robots from scratch. And many more courses are coming out soon!
It’s our goal to provide hands-on projects and activities to guide you through the process of gaining tangible, technical skills. I’m not going to lecture you, because, let’s face it, lectures are B-O-R-I-N-G. And, I’m sure you’d rather make stuff, break stuff, code stuff, and have fun with stuff…
Plus, you’ll earn a Learn Robotics Course Certificate and become part of the Verified by Learn Robotics Program when you complete our Level 1 and Level 2 courses!
Are you with me? Learn more about the first course, here.
2. LinkedIn Learning (Lynda) to add Robotics Skills to your Portfolio
Lynda, now part of LinkedIn Learning, has over 600 software development courses, and tens of applied robotics, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi courses.
These courses are great because they’re professionally curated and span a variety of professional topics. You’ll also earn a certificate when you complete a course. Furthermore, some libraries offer free access to Lynda with your library card. Pretty nifty!
3. Coursera for Top-Notch Robotics Programs Online
Coursera offers courses, Specializations, and Degree programs taught by Top Universities around the world. Learn Robotics online with a short course, Specialization, or Master’s Program. It’s more affordable than attending University in person, and you can learn from the comfort of your home.
Two programs I recommend are the Robotics Specialization from the University of Pennslyvania and the Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control Specialization from Northwestern University.
These are Undergrad-level courses, so expect to put in about 5 hours per week on reviewing lectures and completing assignments.
Another cool thing about Coursera is that you’ll learn in real-time with people around the world. So if you have questions, you can interact with the professors and your peers about the content.
4. Udemy for Niche Robotics Courses
Another awesome course site to help you learn robotics online is Udemy. This platform has a wide variety of courses made by people in the community. The course quality and caliber can vary by instructor, but overall, I’ve had a good experience using Udemy to brush up and learn new topics in robotics.
If you’re interested in Industrial Automation, PLC’s and HMI’s, Udemy is an affordable way to get started. I’ve had good experiences with these robotics courses on Udemy:
There are just so many cool topics to learn. Especially very niche robotics concepts. I highly recommend checking out Udemy if you want to gain a very specific skill in a short amount of time.
5. edX for Robotics Courses and MicroMasters Programs
edX is an online platform that offers courses from MIT, Harvard, BU, and other Universities around the world. You can take courses 100% for free, add a Verified Certificate for a fee, or take their MicroMasters program. It’s a very affordable way to get quality educational content from top-notch universities for a nominal price.
Here are some awesome robotics programs you can enroll in.
- Robotics MicroMasters through UPenn
- Robotics MicroMasters through Columbia University
- Real World ROS by Delft
- Underactuated Robots by MIT
- Artificial Intelligence by Columbia University
- Scratch: Programming for Teachers
And so many more!
FutureLearn is a website packed with hundreds of online short courses on a variety of subjects. Here are a couple of courses that are worth checking out:
- Making Robots Move: Learn how to represent robots in 2D and 3D space by calculating forward and inverse kinematics.
- Introducing Robotics: Build a Robot Arm and implement kinematics equations in MATLAB.
- Robotic Vision Principles of Vision: Learn the basics of human and robot vision and the constituent parts of an image.
Other courses will teach you how to code robots on FutureLearn. Enroll in them here.
Another great option is the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW). MIT publishes previous robotics course lectures on OCW for the public to access for free. If you have the stamina and discipline to push through lecture material on your own, this is a free way to get an MIT education.
Some of the robotics and programming courses on OCW are older, so I recommend finding the most recent courses available. Otherwise, you could be reviewing outdated technologies that aren’t applicable today.
8. Learn Robotics Online using YouTube
Furthermore, YouTube is a great resource for finding robotics courses online. You can find channels that have playlists on various topics. Plus, they’re all free to watch. YouTube videos aren’t as interactive as taking a course, nor will you earn a certificate. But, if you’re more of a visual learner and are on a budget, you can find robotics content for free.
Here are some great playlists on robotics to get you started!
- Ladder Diagram Tutorials by Pete Free
- Control Panel Building by Tim Wilborne
- Arduino Course by ProgrammingKnowledge
- MIT Course on Programming Robots
Be sure to follow Learn Robotics on YouTube because we will be growing our robotics channel in 2020!
9. Gain Robotics Skills directly from Manufacturers
Lastly, an awesome place to find courses and information on robotics is to go to the manufacturer’s website. If you’re working with Industrial Robots there are both online and in-person training programs that you can enroll in. FANUC, Universal Robots (free training), ABB, etc all have online programs that you can take.
Rockwell Automation has lesson videos and online manuals for certain controllers. If you purchase a PLC from Automation Direct, you can access their free resources as well. The same is true for platforms such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
Robotics Takes Time and Practice to Learn
If you don’t want to spend years in University or get yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, you can opt to learn robotics online. There are a bunch of free and premium options out there to help you gain skills in robotics programming, mechatronics, and controls. Online courses are a great option because they provide a framework for what you need to learn in an order that makes sense. Since there isn’t a classroom or direct contact with an instructor, you will have to hold yourself accountable for finishing the material.
Once you find a course that you’re interested in, it’s time to get to work. Put in the effort. Practice, Practice, Practice. And then be proud when you can highlight these skills on your resume or in your next engineering job interview.
Did you take an awesome online robotics course? Let me know in the comments section, below.