We have developed a concept for a new type of microscale robot, called Claytronics. Less than a cubic millimeter in size, these robots are designed to be cheap to build in large quantities and move via an electrostatic mechanism that allows one robot to stick and roll around one or more other robots. One can think of the design as similar to a very large-scale modular robot system.
While Claytronics is fanciful and, well, maybe even feasible to build (some interesting partial prototypes have been demonstrated), the question that has captivated me is the following: If you had a million of these robots sitting on your desk, how would you program them? In this lecture, I will describe the thought process as I've gradually gotten sucked into this problem, finally leading to a logic-programming language called Meld. I will present the design of Meld and show several programs and videos of large-scale robot ensembles running in a high-fidelity, physics-based simulator. I will conclude with an assessment of the language, including its possible usefulness for distributed systems such as sensor networks.
Peter Lee is the head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. In this capacity, he oversees a computing organization whose research and education programs are consistently ranked among the top in the nation. Prior to assuming his current position, Dr. Lee was the Vice Provost for Research, providing administrative oversight and strategic guidance for Carnegie Mellon's research activities, an enterprise that exceeds $400M annually in sponsored research. Peter Lee is an active researcher, educator, administrator, and servant to the academic community. For his research, he has received several awards, including the ACM SIGOPS
Hall of Fame Award, and election as an ACM Fellow. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association 9where he chairs the Government Affairs Committee), the Computing Community Consortium Council, the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council, and the DARPA Information Science and Technology Board (where is the vice-chair).
For a more detailed version of Professor Lee's bio please visit: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~petel/