Monday, May 16, 2016

TerraSwarm Graduate Student Pat Pannuto Receives Outstanding Poster Award at INC12

TerraSwarm graduate student Pat Pannuto has been presented with the Twelfth International Nanotechnology Conference  (INC12) Outstanding Poster Award for "Accessors and the RoboCafé: Interoperability in the Internet of Things."  The conference was held in Leuven, Belgium from May 10-12, 2016.

The poster includes the following acknowledgement "Sponsored by the TerraSwarm Research Center, one of six centers administered by the STARnet phase of the Focus Center Research Program (FCRP) a Semiconductor Research Corporation program sponsored by MARCO and DARPA."

At DARPA's WaitWhat? conference in 2015, the TerraSwarm Research Center debuted the RoboCafé, an interconnected swarm of robots, sensors, and people. A key challenge for the emerging Internet of Things is interoperability.

Interoperation is not simply support for three vendors' smart light bulb APIs. It requires policies for sharing contested resources and decoupling intent from devices -- raising the blinds may light a room as easily as turning on a light.

Accessors are an active research project exploring these questions, and the RoboCafé an application that stressed, tested, broke, and informed Accessor design.
In the RoboCafé, a swarm of mobile robots patrol the café, moving in a sentry pattern to periodically visit the whole space. As the robots move around an online summarization algorithm continuously extracts "interesting" things the robot encounters, clips of each new face the robot sees. Users in the RoboCafé can use a smartphone app to order candy or snacks. Upon ordering, the smartphone is automatically localized and a robot is taken off patrol and tasked to deliver the goods to the user. At any point, the detection of applause in the environment will demand robot attention no matter its previous task, simulating critical events such as gunshot detection.

The key technical challenge of the RoboCafé lies in the integration of very disparate technologies: online summarization of key events, an acoustic-based positioning service for localizing people in the café environment, a machine-learning framework for context detection, and the control of a swarm of mobile robots. Accessors recast each of these technologies as event-driven actors with tightly constrained interfaces. The Accessor architecture decouples the control and data plane, starting acoustic event detection and handling reported applause events, but leaving the transport of high-bandwidth audio signals to the underlying system. A policy engine federates access to robots, allowing applause events to supersede food delivery or patrols. The unified model of computation facilitates reasoning of interactions between applications and opens the door to applying formal methods for proving overall system correctness.

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