Brief History from Jan Rabaey:

When we officially christened our new laboratory in Cory Hall, the Qualcomm Ubiquitous Swarm Lab at UC Berkeley in December 2011, it was hard to foresee where all of this would lead. The visions and the excitement were there for sure, but the roadmap was still nebulous. Years later, it is amazing to observe what has transpired. The center is packed to the rafters (both in the cubicle space as well as the labs), exciting activities spanning a huge spectrum are being spawned, and the weekly seminars are overflowing. Even better, The “Swarm” concept has spread widely, and is now accepted in many corporate boardrooms as being one of the main drivers behind innovation in information technology over the next few decades. We are proud to take partial credit for the “swarming” of this vision. 

We are grateful to Qualcomm for its major contribution that established the center, and helped us to build an infrastructure that is the envy of the campus, and incubate some of the early research trajectories.  This kernel was sufficient to bring a number of other key players to the table. With Ericsson, NEC, Samsung, Toshiba, IHI and most recently Sony, we have added partners who can help drive the center forward and improve the chances of success in our journey. An additional boost was received in late 2012 with the funding of the TerraSwarm proposal, led by Swarm Lab Director Prof. Edward Lee. Founded on the visions articulated by the Swarm Lab, the TerraSwarm proposal outlines a challenging research trajectory engaging virtually any domain in information technology. Funded by the semiconductor industry and DARPA joined in the StarNet consortium, TerraSwarm brings together some of the leading researchers in the US in distributed systems, control, security, embedded systems and sensor network platforms in a setting unparalleled in the world.

Highlights of research have been featured in the 5 center retreats held so far (with all presentations available on-line on our website). Rather than providing an extensive list (the report should speak for itself), I would like to pick one example that I believe truly exemplifies the swarm concept in the best possible way. The Invention Lab, spearheaded by Prof’s Hartmann, Paulos and Wright and now and integral partner of the Swarm Lab, has inspired diverse groups of students to produce an amazing array of swarm objects - this over the span of only 14 weeks. This ”crowd sourcing of the Swarm” truly demonstrates that something profound is happening, and that the vision of a world infused with trillions of connected devices may come sooner than we think.

Jan Rabaey


The Qualcomm Ubiquitous Swarm Lab at Berkeley, a research unit of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at The University of California, Berkeley was opened in December of 2011 and located at 490 Cory Hall. Catalyzed by a generous donation from Qualcomm the facility was designed to combine open collaborative forum spaces and quiet personal workspaces in a reconfigurable environment. The site has two full development labs, a large collaboration/presentation space, conference areas, and three staff offices. It supports approximately 45 graduate students, 10 faculty, 3 technical, and 1 administrative staff. The Swarm laboratories are state of the art facilities whose focus is to provide an environment for the testing, debugging, and characterization of "Proof of Concept" prototypes in support of the research program of the lab. The laboratories support 14 test benches and 1 soldering/rework station. Each bench contains independent circuits and network connections. These features ensure the ability to use several test setups and multiple test equipment at each station. Laptop computers are available for use on each bench. The benches have a modular design to ensure flexibility in accomodating a wide variety of test equipment as needed for different test setups.

The center's computing infrastructure for research and development relies on a network of LINUX, Solaris, and Windows based workstations and PCs. These machines are interconnected using a switched network of 100Mb/sec ethernet and WAN technologies. A central machine room houses Sun and Dell servers as well as RAID file servers. The center has access to an extensive suite of CAD tools for the design of complex circuits and systems.