Thursday, December 14, 2017

UC Berkeley Professor and TerraSwarm PI receives IEEE Fellow distinction

On November 28th, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) named Terraswarm PI and UC Berkeley professor Sanjit Seshia as a newly elevated Fellow, a prestigious honor within the technical community. Professor Seshia was selected for contributions to formal methods for inductive synthesis and algorithmic verification.

The IEEE Fellow distinction is reserved for select members who have a remarkable record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. More about this notable distinction in INDIAWEST.

Monday, December 11, 2017

TerraSwarm PI and Professor at the University of Washington speaks for Apple at NIPS conference

While simultaneously an Associate Professor of Machine Learning at the Computer Science and Engineering Department of the University of Washington and a TerraSwarm PI, Carlos Guestrin addressed attendees at the 2017 NIPS conference as Apple's Director of Machine Learning. Prof. Guestrin spoke about the powerful computer systems and large datasets available to machine-learning engineers who join Apple. Winning applause from his audience, he also announced that Apple is open sourcing software to help application developers use machine learning first developed in his own startup Turu, which was acquired by Apple last summer.

To see more, go to Patently Apple as well as an article about Apple's revelation of more of its self-driving technology at the same conference that appears in Wired.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Can driverless cars be safe? Penn State Professor and TerraSwarm PI Rahul Mangharam and team are working on it

Much attention in the area of autonomous cars is focused in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Carnegie Mellon University has positioned itself as a leader in this field. The University of Pennsylvania, along with CMU, is a key player in Mobility21, a five-year, federally funded $14 million program to investigate transportation technology, including autonomous vehicles. Colleagues at at CMU are experimenting with their own autonomous car while scientists at Penn work in a lab driving cars virtually in all types of weather and lighting to test how well the software adapts to the changes it would face in the real world.

Rahul Mangharam, associate professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, is leading a team of six researchers in pursuit of what they describe as a "driver's license test" for self-driving cars. The test involves a rigorous use of mathematical diagnostics and simulated reality to determine the safety of autonomous vehicles before they ever hit the road.

All in service of rating robot drivers, white boards covered in complex equations, shelves full of makeshift toy cars and computer screens displaying video games comprise the environment of the Penn lab. Penn scientists run the autonomous driving software, called Computer Aided Design for Safe Autonomous Vehicles, through both mathematical diagnostics and the virtual reality test drives on Grand Theft Auto to see when the system fails.

“You can never have 100 percent safety,” Mangharam said. “You can design a system that would not be at fault intentionally.” As much as he believes in autonomous technology, Mangharam is concerned about our society's tendency to neglect regulatory oversight as we embrace a new toy.
See article at The Inquirer

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,

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

$10 million awarded to UC San Diego study co-lead by TerraSwarm PI and computer scientist Tajana Rosing

IBM has given UC San Diego a $10 million contract to look for ways to maintain people's ability to think and remember things clearly, especially to help seniors live in their own homes late into life, possibly until they die.

The funds are targeting a problem that trips up many older adults - mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that makes it difficult to remember simple things, like a name or a basic task. UC San Diego intends to make it easier to recognize MCI, whose symptoms can be hard to distinguish from the natural decline in thinking and memory as a part of aging.

“If you can detect it in time, there are ways to dramatically slow MCI down,” said Tajana Šimunić Rosing, a UC San Diego computer scientist who will help lead a five year study of the matter. “The bad news is that by the time most people go see a doctor they’re already experiencing more severe stages of cognitive decline.”

Much of the $10 million contract that UC San Diego will receive from IBM will be used to study about 50 people who are 65 and older.

Ten of those people will have their homes outfitted with an assortment of sensors and electronic devices that will monitor their daily habits and behavior, which provide clues to how clearly people are thinking and remembering things. See The San Diego Union-Tribune article for more information.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Prof. Jan Rabaey of UC Berkeley and TerraSwarm PI wins Aristotle award

The Aristotle Award was authorized by the Board of Directors of the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) in 1995 to commend professors who best contribute to the development of the industry's most valuable resource, its human resource. The award recognizes SRC-supported faculty whose deep commitment to the educational experience of SRC students has had extensive and sustained impact on their professional performance.

The awards have been made to some of the most outstanding university faculty in this country, and this year's award preserves that tradition. Professor Jan Rabaey of the University of California/Berkeley is markedly qualified to receive the 2017 Aristotle Award.

See Aristotle Award Presentation TECHCON 2017 for more on Professor Rabaey's remarkable accomplishments.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

UC Berkeley Ph.D. student designs new medical device in TerraSwarm PI's Design course

A medical device designed to diagnose pneumonia was named winner of the student category of Fast Company's 2017 Innovation by Design Award. The device, called Tabla, was created as a classroom project during the Interactive Device Design course taught by TerraSwarm PI and Director of Berkeley's Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Professor Bjoern Hartmann. This low-cost alternative to chest X-rays was the biggest winner in the 2017 Big Ideas at Berkeley competition. See more at Berkeley News.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

LIME , new and better machine-based malware analysis tool

Developed by researchers at the University of Washington, including TerraSwarm PI Carlos Guestrin, a new tool - Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic Explanations (LIME) addresses the shortcoming of deep learning models providing effective malware web page detectors but not providing information about why the sample is detected as malicious. Being able to answer the "why" question is critical for security researchers to be able to build better defenses in the future.

For more information see nakedsecurity by Sophos and Introduction to Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic Explanations (LIME)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Professor and TerraSwarm PI Anthony Rowe wants bikes to talk to cars

An article released by NPR's all tech considered concerns the issue of the safety of bicyclists around cars and autonomous vehicles.

The technology that makes self-driving cars unemotional (they don't get angry or have road rage) is showing up in human-driven cars with forward collision warning and automatic braking systems. However, Professor Rowe believes cars could use some help with detecting cyclists.

"Cars have a very regular pattern with the way they move, whereas when people are riding bicycles they change between either acting like cars on the side of the road," says Rowe, an associate engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. "They might switch and become pedestrians and go up on the sidewalks. They tend to move in a slightly more erratic way. It's much harder to predict."

Rowe would like to endow bikes with the ability to feed information to cars, now and in the completely sutonomous future.

"What we're trying to do is put as much instrumentation on a bike as we can to see if we can predict how it's going to move in the future, so that it could, for example, signal a collision warning system on a car," he says.
While Prof. Rowe thinks self-driving cars will make the future a lot safer for cyclists and pedestrians, he thinks a little help from bikes could compensate for weaknesses while humans are the primary pilots.

Friday, June 2, 2017

TerraSwarm PI joins Advisory Board of leading developer of on-chip monitoring

Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, faculty at University of California at Berkeley since 1976 and electronic design automation pioneer, has joined the Strategic Advisory Board at UltraSoC. As a founding father/driving force in both commercial and technological developments in the electronics design industry, Sangiovanni joins a team of distinguished technology business leaders on the Advisory Board.
UltraSoC CEO Rupert Baines comments "We are honored to welcome Alberto to our advisory board. We look forward to tapping into his experience, his technological and commercial achievements and his pre-eminence in the development of EDA. I am confident UltraSoC will benefit greatly from his wisdom and his involvement.”

UltraSoC is an independent provider of SoC infrastructure that enables rapid development of embedded systems based on advanced SoC devices.

Friday, April 21, 2017

TerraSwarm PI Edward A. Lee and team win BEST PAPER AWARD, IoTDI Conference

Professor Edward A. Lee, along with co-authors Hokeun Kim and David Broman, won the BEST PAPER AWARD for their paper A Toolkit for Construction of Authorization Service Infrastructure for the Internet of Things yesterday at the 2nd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Internet-of-Things Design and Implementation (IoTDI), held in conjunction with CPS Week in Pittsburgh April 18-21.
The challenges posed by the Internet of Things (IoT) render existing security measures ineffective against emerging networks and devices. These challenges include heterogeneity, operation in open environments, and scalability. In this paper, we propose SST (Secure Swarm Toolkit), an open-source toolkit for construction and deployment of an authorization service infrastructure for the IoT. The infrastructure uses distributed local authorization entities, which provide authorization services that can address heterogeneous security requirements and resource constraints in the IoT. The authorization services can be accessed by network entities through software interfaces provided by SST, called accessors. The accessors enable IoT developers to readily integrate their devices with authorization services without needing to manage cryptographic keys and operations. To rigorously show that SST provides necessary security guarantees, we have performed a formal security analysis using an automated verification tool. In addition, we demonstrate the scalability of our approach with a mathematical analysis, as well as experiments to evaluate security overhead of network entities under different security profiles supported by SST.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Endowed Professorship named for TerraSwarm PI Carlos Guestrin

Yesterday, Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington announced the establishment of the Guestrin Endowed Professorship in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Named for leading expert in the machine learning field, UW CSE Professor Carlos Guestrin, the $1 million endownment will augment UW CSE's ability to recruit and retain the world's most outstanding faculty members in these emergent areas.
"Seattle and UW are near and dear to my heart, and it was incredibly important to me and our team that we continue supporting this world-class institution and the amazing talent coming out of the CSE program,” said Guestrin. “We look forward to strong collaboration between Apple, CSE and the broader AI and machine learning community for many years to come.”
See more at UW TODAY.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TerraSwarm PI David Blaauw and colleague present research on "micromote" computers at IEEE Conference

Professor David Blaauw and colleague Dennis Sylvester, computer scientists and IEEE Fellows from the University of Michigan, presented 10 papers at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco earlier this month. The papers were related to their work with "Micromote" computers, tiny devices they've presented in different variations for several years.

The overarching goal is to make smarter, smaller sensors for medical devices that can do more with less energy. Many of the devices (microphones, cameras and other sensors) are always on alert and beam personal data into the cloud because they cannot analyze it themselves. It has been predicted by some that by 2035 there will be 1 trillion such devices.

“If you’ve got a trillion devices producing readings constantly, we’re going to drown in data,” says Blaauw.
Blaauw and Sylvester hope to make these devices more secure while also saving energy by developing tiny, energy-efficient computing sensors that can do analysis on board.

See IEEE Spectrum for full article.

Friday, February 10, 2017

TerraSwarm PI Michel Maharbiz awarded $1.5m by CZ Biohub

Michel Maharbiz, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley, has been selected to receive a senior investigator award by CZ Biohub.

Professor Maharbiz will be awarded $1.5 million over 5 years for his research exploring ways that miniaturized technology and biology can be threaded together to create novel clinical devices that interface with the human body.

“I am humbled and speechless,” said Maharbiz when he found out about the award. “This is an ambitious endeavor and I can’t wait to get started and be part of it. I really do believe we, collectively, can make a big impact on diseases over the next decade, and I’m really excited to be a part of this.”
The CZ Biohub was established in September 2016 with $600 million over 10 years from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, and operates as an independent nonprofit medical research organization collaborating with UC Berkeley, Stanford University and UC San Francisco to fund research. Its goal is to harness science, technology and human capacity to cure, prevent or manage all disease during our children’s lifetime.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Exyn Technologies, founded by Dr. Vijay Kumar, raises $6.8m in partnership with Uniformity Labs

In news released today by Marketwired, IP Group announced that its first two portfolio companies from US university partners Exyn Technologies and Uniformity Labs have raised a combined $6.8 in new financing rounds.

Exyn Technologies is a spin-out from the University of Pennsylvania and was founded by Dr. Vijay Kumar, the Nemirovsky Family Dean of Penn Engineering and a Terraswarm Principal Investigator. The company develops fully autonomous aerial robot systems with multi-modal sensing capabilities to enable robust and reliable applications in the commercial market.

IP Group has committed another $3.7m to the two US companies following completion of the financing rounds which included both new and existing US and UK based investors. The Exyn transaction closed in 2017.

Monday, January 23, 2017

University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon receive $14 million grant

In partnership with CMU, Penn is participating in a $14 million, five-year transportation research grant to create a new national University Transportation Center (UTC) called Mobility 21.

Rahul Mangharam, TerraSwarm PI and associate professor in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science, is also the director of the UTC. This is the third Department of Transportation (DoT) award Penn and CMU have won since 2013. According to Professor Mangharam, the Penn team focuses on cross-disciplinary problems like autonomous vehicles, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and interregional transportation.

"I think there are a lot of new technologies that are coming in that should be enablers for making transportation safer and more efficient," says Mangharm. "We want to essentially take a very holistic view of introducing these technologies to address long-term problems.”