CSE 599C Winter, 2022

Tuesdays / Thursdays, 11:30am-12:50pm (Pacific time), ARC 160/Zoom 

Instructor: Vikram Iyer
email: vsiyer@cs.washington.edu

Description: Insects are capable of many amazing engineering feats that far exceed the capabilities of state of the art robots and Internet of Things systems. For example, animals like bees can fly, see, smell and communicate. Additionally, their brains can perform all of the necessary computation and control for these tasks in a tiny power efficient and lightweight package. These and other natural systems can serve as inspiration and motivation for transformative technologies that can be applied to everything from wearables and medical devices to emerging technologies like micro-drones, robotic implants, and small satellites.

The goal of this course is to present a broad review of challenges, methods and technologies relevant to miniaturizing robotic and wireless sensing systems, as well as explore novel approaches such as bio-hybrid systems that integrate computing and electronics with live animals. This includes topics such as computing, wireless communication, sensing, actuation, and embedded ML at small scale as well as discussions of applications across computer science and engineering. This material is highly interdisciplinary, however aside from interest in the material, the course will require no prior knowledge, background or experience in these topics. The course will consist of lectures, student led discussions of papers, and an open ended final project.

Prerequisites: None

Discussion format

Inspired by Ludwig Schmidt, Alec Jacobson and Colin Raffel, we will be discussing papers in the many-to-many role-playing format. Each session you will be assigned to a group with one of the following roles:

  • Summarizer. This team will be responsible for providing a short 8 minute summary of the paper and will be the first role to present. Create a presentation using google slides highlighting the motivation for the paper, as well as the key techniques and results. A suggestion for creating this would be to create slides for the major figures in the paper that communicate these and talk through them.

  • Scientific peer reviewer (advocate). Imagine you are a reviewer for this paper and it is under submission to a top conference or journal. More specifically, you are a positive reviewer advocating that it should be published. Present the strengths of the paper and/or changes you think should be made before publication.

  • Scientific peer reviewer (skeptic). Same as above but in this case focus on the weaknesses and criticisms of the paper.

  • Researcher. Imagine you are a researcher in academia or industry reading this paper. Propose a follow up work or a potential application.

For each paper the summarizing team will have 8 min to present, the other groups will have 4 min each with time for questions and discussion after.

Course Project

The goal of this project is to offer an open-ended opportunity to explore a technology in this domain of your choice. This can be anything from software to hardware depending on your background, expertise, and interests. We’ll go over some potential ideas in class but be creative! Please just make an effort to connect this to the concepts discussed in the course (e.g. discussing how the project might scale to limited hardware, power, etc). Group projects are acceptable, however, the scope of the project should be scaled based on the group size (if you have a larger group the project should be more substantial). Each group will present their project at the end of the quarter.

Project proposal (due 1/25)- The proposal should be a one to two page writeup of what you’d like to do. Please include the motivation, description of what you plan to build, and at least one experiment you plan to do to evaluate it. If you need any hardware to do this please include that as well with costs (and contact me). On 1/27 instead of class we’ll have brief zoom meetings to go over each of the proposals.


Note: Classes will be online through Zoom until January 20th. Zoom link available from Canvas page.

Date Topic Links and Notes
1/4 Introduction
1/7 Miniaturized computing
1/11 Low power design and energy harvesting
1/13 Wireless communication
1/18 Sensors
1/20 Hands on embedded ML
1/25 Actuators and Fabrication Project proposals due
1/27 Project proposal reviews (no lecture) Sign up for a time slot to go over your proposal
2/1 Discussion: Actuators Karpelson 2008, Chen 2019
2/3 Discussion: Powering small robots Yang 2020, Ozaki 2021
2/8 Discussion: Battery free systems and intermittent computing de Winkel 2020, Lucia 2017
2/10 Discussion: Biohybrid systems Sato 2009, Nguyen 2020
2/15 Discussion: TinyML Zemlyanikin 2019, Faraone 2020
2/17 Discussion: Swarms Rubenstein 2014, Le Goc 2016
2/22 Discussion: Wearables Moin 2020, Arora 2018
2/24 No class work on projects
3/1 Discussion: Implants and endoscopes Fagogenis 2019, Piech 2020
3/3 Discussion: TinyML Banbury 2021, Federov 2020
3/8 Discussion: Ethics and Privacy Calo 2017, Acquisti 2015
3/10 Project Presentations