A closer look at a joint Inria-Berkeley project: M3 Marvelous Micro-Motes

Congratulations to Dr. Thomas Watteyne and Prof. Kris Pister for being grantees of the France-Berkeley Fund program!
Title of the project: M3 Marvelous Micro-Motes

Principal Investigators:

  • Thomas Watteyne, Inria, EVA project-team
  • Kris Pister, EECS, UC Berkeley


From a strong an collaboration…

Dr. Thomas Watteyne is an Inria researcher who is defining the technology for tomorrow’s Internet of (Important) Things. “[These are] networks composed of tiny battery-powered wireless devices which form a multi-hop wireless mesh network. The technology we develop and standardize allow those devices to live for years on batteries, while offering ultra-high reliability”, says Watteyne[1].

He did his post-doctoral research at the University of California, in Berkeley. In 2010, he joined Dust Networks, a start-up company which spun off of that lab, and the undisputed leader in supplying low power wireless mesh networks for demanding industrial process automation applications. He joined Inria to create the EVA research team in 2015.

To maintain his strong links with the UC Berkeley, Dr. Thomas Watteyne created the REALMS associated team. It is a formal collaboration framework between the Inria EVA team, Prof. Steven Glaser and Prof. Kris Pister’s UC Berkeley teams, and Prof. Branko Kerkez’ team at the University of Michigan. REALMS has been a fantastic vehicle for intense collaboration since its creation. In 2015, they co-created and developed SolSystem, a complete sensor-to-cloud solution. Over 1,000 sensors have been deployed on 3 continents under the SolSystem umbrella, including snowpack monitoring sensors network in the Sierra Nevada, or Smart Agriculture deployments in Argentina and Chile. This technology was one of the 10 finalists of competition of the IoT Solutions World Congress in 2017. Together, the REALMS team members have published over 25 joint papers, including for the prestigious Proceedings of the IEEE and IEEE Transactions on Cognitive Communications and Networking journals.

As Watteyne said during his interview with Tania Castro in 2015, “Research is all about collaboration: collaboration with teams in different countries and with different backgrounds. And REALMS is exactly that: we get to teach each other tools and techniques we would never have used before, collaborate on papers and projects together, and just have a great time.”

… to the winning project!

The success of this fruitful collaboration was confirmed by the selection this summer of the joint project “M3 Marvelous Micro-Motes”  as a grantee of the prestigious France-Berkeley Fund.

Micro-motes are a breakthrough technology which offer communication and computation capabilities in a single-chip the size of a grain of rice. The project’s long-term vision is to use micro-motes at the heart of micro-robots to form swarms of coordinated ant-sized robots. These swarms can carry out missions in small and hard-to-reach places. One example is exploring and mapping the internal structure of a collapsed building after an earthquake. A micro-mote has no stable crystal oscillator, only an unstable internal oscillating circuit. This requires one to completely re-think time-keeping by using the network as a time source. This research changes the foundations of low-power wireless, and opens up new research domains on micro-motes and micro-robots.


* About the Inria Associate Team Program

Inria associate teams are joint projects created between an Inria project-team and a research team outside of France. The two teams jointly define scientific objectives, a plan to meet those, and a schedule of visits to one another. The Inria associate team is assigned a yearly budged to pay for those visits, and for organizing joint events.

 **About the France-Berkeley Program

Among the five bilateral funds that exist between France and American universities, the France-Berkeley Fund is the oldest. It subsidizes innovative research projects likely to give rise to lasting cooperation between France and the University of California, Berkeley, and promotes the exchange of researchers and students.


[1]  Interview by Tania Castro, European & International Partnership Department, in Paris on October 23th, 2015.