Students take another step toward an autonomous future

A team of Berkeley undergraduates that includes CS major Gan Tu,  EECS majors Philipp Wu (EE/ME), Malhar Patel, and Bradley Qu, and EECS minor Travis Brashears (Engineering Physics major), are building autonomous backpack-sized mobile robots for a project called Autonomous Motion at Cal (AMAC).  Their aim is to create autonomous vehicles that will be able to navigate the densely populated UC Berkeley campus.

Lydia Liu wins inaugural Ada Lovelace Fellowship

CS grad student Lydia Liu (advisers: Michael Jordan and Moritz Hardt) has won the inaugural Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship.  The new three-year fellowship is for PhD students at North American universities who are members of groups underrepresented in computing and pursuing research aligned to the topics carried out by Microsoft Research.  Liu's research aims to establish theoretical foundations for machine learning algorithms to achieve reliable and robust performance. The fellowship comes with a $42K stipend, tuition for three years, and an invitation to the PhD Summit, a two-day workshop where fellows will meet with Microsoft researchers and other top students to share their research.

Clever clumsiness: A self-taught walking robot

A group of researchers at UC Berkeley (including EE Prof. Sergey Levine, grad student Tuomas Haarnoja and undergraduate researcher Aurick Zhou) and Google Brain have used maximum-entropy reinforcement learning to make a quadrupedal robot teach itself to walk.   It taught iself through trial and error in a mere two hours before researchers introduced the machine to new environments, like inclines and obstacles, where it adapted with ease.

'Ambidextrous' robots could dramatically speed e-commerce

CS Prof. Ken Goldberg and members of the AUTOLAB including postdoc Jeffrey Mahler (Ph.D. '18), grad students Matthew Matl and Michael Danielczuk, and undergraduate researcher Vishal Satish, have published a paper in Science Robotics which presents new algorithms to compute robust robot pick points, enabling robot grasping of a diverse range of products without training.  They trained reward functions for a parallel-jaw gripper and a suction cup gripper on a two-armed robot, and found that their system cleared bins with up to 25 previously unseen objects at a rate of over 300 picks per hour with 95 percent reliability.

Rikky Muller named 2019-2020 IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society Distinguished Lecturer

EE Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller has been named an IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society (SSCS) Distinguished Lecturer (DL) for the two year term of 2019-2020.  SSCS DLs are experts in current integrated circuit technologies who are chosen to speak at chapter meetings and regional seminars because of their skills as deeply knowledgeable and excellent communicators.  Muller co-directs the Berkeley Wireless Research Center (BWRC) with Prof. Elad Alon, who is currently serving the second year of his term as a 2018-2019 SSCS DL.  Muller will be a featured speaker at the Berkeley EECS Annual Research Symposium (BEARS) on February 14, 2019

Researchers capture an image of negative capacitance in action

For the first time ever, an international team of researchers--led by Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin--imaged the microscopic state of negative capacitance. This novel result provides researchers with fundamental, atomistic insight into the physics of negative capacitance, which could have far-reaching consequences for energy-efficient electronics.  “The upshot is that the opposite relation between charge and voltage could locally enhance the voltage across the common dielectric material,” said Salahuddin. “The voltage ‘amplification’ gained could be used to reduce the supply voltage requirement in a transistor, thus making computers and other electronic devices more energy-efficient.”

Pulkit Agrawal, Jacob Andreas, and Cathy Wu join MIT faculty

CS alumni Pulkit Agrawal (M.S. '14/Ph.D. '18, adviser: Jitendra Malik) and Jacob Andreas (Ph.D. '18, adviser: Daniel Klein ) will join the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,  and EE alumna Cathy Wu (Ph.D. '18, adviser: Alexandre Bayen)  will join the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as assistant professors.  Agrawal, who co-founded SafelyYou, Inc., studies topics spanning robotics, deep learning, computer vision, and computational neuroscience.  Andreas, who was a member of the Berkeley Natural Language Processing Group and the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, focuses on using language as a scaffold for more efficient learning and as a probe for understanding model behavior.  Wu, who was recently awarded the Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award, focuses on research involving machine learning, robotics, intelligent systems, and mixed-autonomy mobility.

SinBerBEST 2 sweeps Building and Environment Best Paper Awards

Research collaboration between Singapore–Berkeley Building Efficiency and Sustainability in the Tropics (SinBerBEST 2 -- part of the Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore center) led by EE Prof. Costas Spanos, and UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) resulted in three 2018 Building and Environment Best Paper Awards.  The awards, which are presented annually by the Building and Environment journal, recognize originality, contributions to the field, quality of presentation, and soundness of science.   The honored papers were titled "Automated Mobile Sensing: Towards High-Granularity Agile Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Monitoring," "Development of the ASHRAE Global Thermal Comfort Database II," and "Personal Comfort Models: Predicting Individuals’ Thermal Preference Using Occupant Heating and Cooling Behavior and Machine Learning."

Cathy Wu wins CUTC’s Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award

Recent EE alumna Cathy Wu (Ph.D. '18, adviser: Alexandre Bayen) has won the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC)’s Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award.  This honor, which recognizes the best Doctoral dissertation in the field of science and technology in transportation studies each year, was awarded for Wu's dissertation titled “Learning and Optimization for Mixed Anatomy Systems – A Mobility Context.”  “This is a great honor,” says Wu. “I feel very fortunate to have been able to study optimization challenges at very different layers of our complex transportation systems in the context of self-driving vehicles, from congestion to routing to questions touching on planning and policy.”

Ken Thompson to be inducted into 2019 National Inventors Hall of Fame

CS alumnus Ken Thompson (B.S.‘65/M.S.‘66) is a member of the 2019 class of inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for creating the UNIX Operating System. Thompson and Dennis Ritchie's creation of the UNIX operating system and the C programming language were pivotal developments in the progress of computer science. Today, 50 years after its beginnings, UNIX and UNIX-like systems continue to run machinery from supercomputers to smartphones. The UNIX operating system remains the basis of much of the world's computing infrastructure, and C language -- written to simplify the development of UNIX -- is one of the most widely used languages today.