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.

All four 2019 EECS student nominees recognized by CRA

All four students who were nominated for Computing Research Association (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards in 2019 were recognized:  Dibya Ghosh (nominated by Sergey Levine), Hong Jun Jeon (nominated by Anca Dragan), and  Jonathan Lee (nominated by Ken Goldberg) were named as finalists, and Annie Xie (nominated by Sergey Levine) was named a runner up.  The CRA award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American colleges and universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.

How Michael Brenndoerfer started a company while going to school full-time

Michael Brenndoerfer, now a Senior Software Engineer at Fitbit, founded a cryptocurrency brokerage platform called Cryptonite last year while pursuing his EECS Master of Engineering (MEng) degree full-time.  The Cryptonite platform allows people to trade every cryptocurrency directly with USD and manage all their coins in one place.  “For the last two or three months of the program, I was basically awake for 35–40 hours straight and then got one regular night of sleep, maybe. It was intense,” Brenndoerfer said.

Rohan Lageweg and Bozhi Yin win EE140/240A Keysight student design competition

Students Rohan Lageweg (a senior joint majoring in EECS/MSE) and Bozhi Yin (first year EECS grad) have won an Analog Integrated Circuits class design competition sponsored by Keysight technologies,  for EE140 and EE240A respectively. The students designed low-power and high-speed LCD display drivers for a smartwatch display for the classes taught by Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller. Competition finalists gave presentations to a guest judges from Keysight. Lageweg and Yan won hand-held digital multimeters generously donated by Keysight.

Microrobots fly, walk and jump into the future

EE alumnus and Prof. Kris Pister (M.S.’89, Ph.D.’92), his grad student Daniel Drew, and research being done in the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC), are featured in a Berkeley Engineering articled titled "Microrobots fly, walk and jump into the future."  Roughly the size and weight of a postage stamp, micro-robots consist of a mechanical structure, propulsion system, motion-tracking sensor and multiple wires that supply power and communication signals.  They evolved from Pister’s invention of “smart dust,” tiny chips roughly the size of rice grains packed with sensors, microprocessors, wireless radios and batteries. Pister likes to refer to his microrobots as “smart dust with legs.”  “We’re pushing back the boundaries of knowledge in the field of miniaturization, robotic actuators, micro-motors, wireless communication and many other areas,” says Pister. “Where these results will lead us is difficult to predict.”

Study shows playing high school football changes the teenage brain

A research study led by EE Prof. Chunlei Liu (senior author) and postdoc Nan-Ji Gong (first author), which is the cover story of the November issue of Neurobiology of Disease, found that a single season of high school football may be enough to cause microscopic changes in the structure of the brain.  The team (which included researchers from Duke and UNC Chapel Hill) used a new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take brain scans of 16 high school players, ages 15 to 17, before and after a season of football. They found significant changes in the structure of the grey matter in the front and rear of the brain, where impacts are most likely to occur, as well as changes to structures deep inside the brain.  This is one of the first studies to look at how impact sports affect the brains of children at this critical age.

Skin-like sensor maps blood-oxygen levels anywhere in the body

A new flexible sensor developed by Berkeley EE researchers can map blood-oxygen levels over large areas of skin, tissue and organs, potentially giving doctors a new way to monitor healing wounds in real time.  The research group, which includes Prof. Ana Claudia Arias, Yasser Khan, Donggeon Han, Adrien Pierre, Jonathan Ting, Xingchun Wang and Claire Lochner (plus researchers from Cambridge Display Technology Ltd), have created a lightweight, thin, and flexible oximeter made of organic electronics printed on bendable plastic that molds to the contours of the body.  The sensor, which is described in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is made of an alternating array of printed light-emitting diodes and photodetectors and can detect blood-oxygen levels anywhere it is placed. The sensor shines red and infrared light into the skin and detects the ratio of light that is reflected back.