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Expeditions in Computing Continue to Break New Ground


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robotic bee

Researchers at Harvard and Northeastern University will create robotic bees that fly autonomously and coordinate activities amongst themselves to drive research into compact high-energy power sources, ultra-low-power computing, and the design of distributed algorithms for multi-agent systems.

Credit: Harvard University

The U.S. National Science Foundation's directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering recently created three new Expeditions in Computing. Each of these projects will receive $2 million in funding per year over five years to bring their concepts to fruition. "This year's Expeditions projects are driven by challenge problems that arise from the most pressing issues facing our society today — groundbreaking research shaped by societal needs," says Expeditions program officer Mitra Basu.

One of the projects is a collaborative venture between Harvard and Northeastern University researchers to create robotic bees that mimic real bees in their ability to fly autonomously and coordinate activities amongst themselves and the hive. The scientists intend to focus on the development of compact high-energy power sources, extremely low-power computing, and distributed algorithms for multi-agent systems. The RoboBees will be designed to yield novel insights into how nature addresses complex problems in an elegant way.

Another Expedition project, under way at UCLA, seeks to improve energy efficiency, development effort, time-to-solution, cost, and general productivity by an order of magnitude through customizable domain-specific computing. The UCLA researchers are concentrating on developing a customizable heterogeneous platform featuring a broad spectrum of customizable computing components, customizable and scalable high-performance interconnects founded on RF-interconnect technologies, automated compilation instruments and runtime management systems to facilitate swift development and implementation of domain-specific computing systems, and a reusable mode for reproducing success in different application domains.

From National Science Foundation
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