Thursday, November 16, 2017

CMU to participate in LoRaWAN Academy curriculum

The LoRaWAN Academy announced the participation of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in the LoRaWAN Academy curriculum yesterday, where CMU had developed its own network, OpenChirp, an LPWAN network.
“Connecting sensors is often the most expensive and challenging part of a deployment especially when they are located in remote areas where data needs to travel long distances. By implementing battery-operated, low-powered LoRaWAN-based devices and the LoRaWAN protocol, OpenChirp demonstrates that it is feasible to scale low-powered sensing devices for use across large areas, like campuses, manufacturing plants or even cities,” said Anthony Rowe, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, who leads the OpenChirp project at CMU. “At Carnegie Mellon, students are using OpenChirp to develop IoT applications including smart grid demand / response, air quality sensing, and a campus asset-tracking system.”
Carnegie Mellon’s work is a prime example of the LoRaWAN-based projects that students can develop with LoRa Technology and the LoRaWAN open protocol. See Market Insider.

Monday, November 13, 2017

UC Berkeley Professor and TerraSwarm PI Pieter Abbeel heads new startup of AI hotshots

Professor Peter Abbeel's research at UC Berkeley's Robot Lab had been working on adaptive learning through demonstration, initially with the famous towel-folding performed by a robot and the robotic knot-tying from 2013. This week, Abbeel and several colleagues announced a new startup (with US $7 million in seed funding) called Embodied Intelligence which will “enable industrial robot arms to perceive and act like humans instead of just strictly following pre-programmed trajectories.”

The new project draws on the groundwork laid by BRETT, a robot that represented a deep reinforcement learning breakthrough for UC Berkeley in 2015. The acronym, believe it or not, stands for Berkeley Robot for the Elimination of Tedious Tasks.

“Right now, if you want to set up a robot, you program that robot to do what you want it to do, which takes a lot of time and a lot of expertise,” said Abeel. “With our advances in machine learning, we can write a piece of software once — machine learning code that enables the robot to learn — and then when the robot needs to be equipped with a new skill, we simply provide new data.”

The new start-up plans to make robots more skillful and quicker to learn, which could have an enormous impact on manufacturing.

“The goal is to bring the cutting-edge research to robotics and manufacturing,” Abbeel says. He says the techniques his company is developing will enable robots to do a range of things that are currently too time-consuming to be programmed in.
See articles in IEEE Spectrum, Electronics 360 and MIT Technology Review for more information.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Caltech Professor and TerraSwarm PI recipient of NIH BRAINS Grant

PASADENA NOW reports on NIH Grants awarded to 5 CalTech faculty for 3 projects aimed at identifying all cell types in the mouse brain, understanding how the brain heals itself after disease or injury, and understanding the neural circuits of behavior.

As one of the 5 Caltech researchers to receive grants from the National Institutes of Health's Brains Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, Professor Richard Murray, along with Professor Michael Dickinson, will concentrate their research on the NIH project ""A brain circuit program for understanding the sensorimotor basis of behavior".

Professor Murray, a co-principal investigator, has collaborated extensively with Dickinson on modeling and analyzing the biological systems of insect flight control.

“The collective expertise of these research teams spans the entire nervous system, from the sensory periphery to the motor periphery, and it includes experts in every experimental technique we require—molecular genetics, electrophysiology, optical imaging, biomechanics, quantitative behavioral analysis, control theory, and dynamic network theory,” says Murray. “We will exploit mathematical approaches—control theory and dynamic network theory in particular—that are well suited to model feedback and the flow of information through and among different processing stages in the brain.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Director of DCIST at University of Pennsylvania and TerraSwarm PI Vijay Kumar receives $27M grant from Army to develop robot teams

The United States Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has awarded Penn Engineering a five-year, $27 million grant to develop new methods of creating autonomous, intelligent and resilient teams of robots. The teams, comprised of multiple types of robots and sensors with varying abilities, are designed to assist humans in a broad range of operations in dynamically changing, harsh and challenging environments. These would include search and rescue of hostages, information gathering after terrorist attacks or natural disasters as well as humanitarian missions.
“We want to have teams of robots that know how to work together, but can figure out how to keep working even if some of their teammates crash or fail, if GPS signal is unavailable, or if cloud services are disrupted,” said Vijay Kumar, director of the DCIST program. “This means designing networks with loose, flexible connections that can change on the fly. That way, a single event can’t bring down the entire network. More importantly, we want them to learn to perform tasks they may have never performed and work alongside humans that they may never have worked with.”
The award is part of ARL's Distributed and Collaborative Intelligent Systems and Technology (DCIST) Collaborative Research Alliance, which Penn Engineering will lead.
“The technology we’re working will better allow humans to respond by projecting their intelligence without directly coming in harm’s way,” Kumar said.

See Electronics 360 and Georgia Tech NEWS CENTER for more information.

TerraSwarm Director and Professor at University of California, Berkeley honored at Festchrift Symposium

On October 13, 2017, Professor Edward A. Lee, Director of The TerraSwarm Research Center, was honored at a Festschrift Symposium. A "Festschrift" is a celebration of the scholarship and teaching of a specific individual, in this case, Edward A. Lee, the Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

The theme of the symposium was "Principles of Modeling" and was dedicated to Professor Lee's lifelong ideas and influences. Some of his closest collaborators and most prominent colleagues delivered talks at the event and have been invited to contribute a paper to the Festschrift*, which will be published by Springer in their Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) series. The Festschrift articles will also be published in a post-proceedings.

*Festshrift is a term borrowed from German that could be translated as celebration publication (a 'feast-script').

Friday, September 29, 2017

BMI research by UCB faculty/TerraSwarm PI's Carmena and Maharbiz

In the Fall 2017 issue of California Magazine, Professors Jose Carmena and Michel Maharbiz were interviewed about their work with brain-machine interfaces (BMI). a system that connects the brain to a machine. The first component of a BMI is the neural interface, sensors that read the firing of neurons in the brain. Secondly, the information from the sensors is sent to an external decoder that translates brain activity to output signals. The signals are then used used to control the third component of a BMI, the "machine," e.g., a prosthetic arm or leg.

The first component had been a bottleneck in the system, which was eventually resolved by using ultrasound instead of wired connections or radio frequencies for power and for getting the data in and out of the body.

“The physics of ultrasound are perfect,” says Maharbiz, “because our body will let pressure waves travel through it fairly well” and with much less energy than radio frequencies need. At its current size, neural dust already has potential for a variety of clinical applications, such as providing real-time monitoring of areas of the body like the peripheral nervous system and organs.

Carmena says that neural dust will eventually replace wire electrodes we use today. Progress on BMI and neural dust technologies has advanced at an astounding pace.

“When I came [to Berkeley] in 2005 there was no one here working on neuroengineering, neurotechnology, or BMI,” remembers Carmena. Now, with an expanded team, “We do lots of wacky stuff,” says Maharbiz. “We have a project where we are looking at how you could take microbes with flagella and marry them to chips to build 1mm swimming robots. … You sort of create your own reality, that’s one of the beauties of working at Berkeley."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Terraswarm PI Anthony Rowe joins colleagues as Carnegie Mellon Engineering Professors work on developing firefighter location system

As one of several Engineering faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, Professor Anthony Rowe is working on a tracking system to locate firefighters inside a burning building.
“We want to create a system that allows firefighters and first responders to find themselves inside a burning structure,” said Rowe. “Systems like GPS don’t actually work indoors, and fire and smoke make it harder for traditional RF systems to accurately locate people within a structure. The system we’re developing combines emerging technologies that will not only accurately reveal where firefighters are in a building, but also their orientation (i.e., direction they are facing).”
The research team met with firefighters to learn about their operational procedures and analyzed various positioning technologies.
"We need this technology. Too many times we hear stories about first responders getting lost inside of a structure, meters from potential safety, but they did not know which way to go,” said Rowe. “We believe the combination of these new and emerging technologies will lead to an accurate indoor locationing system that could save lives.”
For more information, see Fire Engineering,