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Smart Transformers Will Make the Grid Cleaner and More Flexible

The solid-state transformer is poised to remake the electrical distribution grid

11 min read
Photo: Alamy
Ubiquitous Transformation: Electrical conversion can carry a big footprint, like this substation in the Sonoran Desert, in Arizona.
Photo: Alamy

It would be hard to overstate the importance of transformers in our electrical networks. They’re literally everywhere: on poles and pads, in substations and on private property, on the ground and under it. There are probably dozens in your neighborhood alone. It’s hard to imagine a world without them. But my colleagues and I are doing just that.

In the distribution system, transformers typically take medium, or “primary,” voltages measured in the thousands of volts and convert them to secondary voltages—such as 120, 240, or 480 volts—that can be safely delivered to homes and businesses all over the world. It’s an approach that’s been used since before alternating current won the war of currents in 1892. It is difficult to name another electrotechnology that has survived as long.

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Medal of Honor Goes to Microsensor and Systems Pioneer

The UCLA professor developed aerospace and automotive safety systems

3 min read
Photo of a man in a blue jacket in front of a brick wall.
UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

IEEE Life Fellow Asad M. Madni is the recipient of this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor. He is being recognized “for pioneering contributions to the development and commercialization of innovative sensing and systems technologies, and for distinguished research leadership.”

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Video Friday: An Agile Year

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Video Friday: An Agile Year

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, Philadelphia
ERF 2022: 28–30 June 2022, Rotterdam, Germany
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, Açores, Portugal

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

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Electric utility infrastructure habitually falls prey to overgrown Right-of-Way, high winds, and harsh weather. Impactful events causing outages are increasing in frequency, and need to be endured without major disruptions in electric service. This webinar will discuss the application of covered aerial conductor to "harden" the electric utility grid so that unpredictable events don't result in unsustainable outages.

Speaker:

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