Northeastern University

CS U647 & CS G258 - SWARM

News: Spring'06 Competitions Movie


Welcome to CSU647 & CSG258, Secure Wireless Ad hoc Robots on Mission (SWARM). The theoretical component of this course is designed to expose the students to the concepts underlying the design of robust and secure heterogeneous wireless networking of mobile robots (i.e., Internetworking, Security, Wireless Communication, Embedded Development, Mobile Phones Platforms). The course is mostly laboratory oriented with the goals of designing, and building rescue-mission oriented heterogeneous wireless systems operating in adversarial environments.

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The class will be organized into small teams of 4 students. Each team will be provided with some equipment, and a small budget to extend its system. Each system will consist of three mobile robots based on "monster trucks" and/or "robosapien" ( or other of the shelf robot kits (e.g.,, a low-power control and sensing embedded system (designed by the teams with the guidance of the instructor), and a low-power digital radio frequency communication network. The embedded system will most probably consist of Texas Instruments' MSP430 ultra low-power micro-controller and Chipcon 2.4GHz transceivers (ZigBee compliant). The teams will also make use of a coordination unit connected to the internet and capable of communicating with the mobile robots.

The course will culminate in a competition, where each team has to find and rescue an "object" that is hidden within the competition perimeter and might be located under some rubble. The object is what we call an RF-Egg or Ultrasound-Egg depending on the technology used to localize it. A single robot does not have the capability to succeed in the mission alone, but needs the co-operation of at least another robot. For example the range of the radio interface will not allow single-hop communication from the coordination unit to the object to be rescued. Each team is allowed to jam the communication of the other teams (at the expense of depleting its batteries), or carry other physical or cyber denial of service attacks. During the competition the teams can only interact with the robots through a smart phone cell phone. The team members can establish data connections using the Bluetooth/WiFi/Cellular network to their internetworked central node. The central node will process the inputs to help coordinate the mobile nodes actions and securely relay it over the sensor network to the mobile robots.

Students are highly encouraged to form interdisciplinary teams with the majors in CS, EE, ME, and Math.

Instructors interested in using the course material (including laboratory setup, configs, and solutions) are welcome to contact me.



Guevara Noubir (noubir ATA ccs DOTA neu DOTA edu)
Phone: (617) 373 5205
Office: 238 West Village H.

Lab TA

taojin ( ATA ccs DOTA neu DOTA edu)

Class Information

Tuesday/Friday 9:50pm-11:30pm, room 110 West Village H.
Office Hours
Thu 3:00-5:00 PM.
Course Home Page
Previous years Home Page
Course Overview
Course Overview

Class Materials

Tools and Platoforms Technology

During the first weeks the teams will familiarize themselves with the following wireless and mobile computing technologies to make an informed decision on which platforms to choose for their systems.

Wireless Sensor and Actuator Networks:
Mobile Phones:
Additional Tools and Libraries:
Potential Hardware Peripherals:



Course schedule
Current Schedule.
Competition Rules and Location
Additional Resources

Sample Code.
Additional Documentation.


The course grade will be based on:

The grades are individual and based on each student's contribution, team's performance, creativity, code quality, documentation, presentations, system reliability, etc.

Assignments are due on Friday after class. Each team should allocate some time to provide a demonstration to the teaching Assistant.

Penalties policy:

  1. Each team has to demonstrate its results on the due date (Friday) after class to the teaching assistant.
  2. A second chance is given on the following Tuesday after class. The resulting penalty is a reduction of the grade by 40%.
  3. A third chance is given on the Friday following the due date (one week delay). The resulting penalty is a reduction of the grade by 70%.