Visualizing the Electric Grid

In the new world of competition, power traders, grid managers, public service boards, and the public itself all need to take in what's happening at a glance

13 min read

Visualization software packs a large amount of information into a single computer-generated image, enabling viewers to interpret the data more rapidly and more accurately than ever before. This kind of software will become still more useful, even indispensable, as electricity grids are integrated over ever-larger areas, as transmission and generation become competitive markets, and as transactions grow in number and complexity.

Tracking and managing these burgeoning transaction flows puts operating authorities on their mettle. While the electric power system was designed as the ultimate in plug-and-play convenience, the humble wall outlet has become a gateway to one of the largest and most complex of man-made objects. For example, barring a few islands and other small isolated systems, the grid in most of North America is just one big electric circuit. It encompasses billions of components, tens of millions of kilometers of transmission line, and thousands of generators with power outputs ranging from less than 100 kW to 1000 MW and beyond. Grids on other continents are similarly interconnected.

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Q&A: Marc Raibert on the Boston Dynamics AI Institute

The founder of Boston Dynamics talks with us about the new $400 million research institute

12 min read
Marc Raibert, an older white man with a bald head and a short white beard and glasses, gestures as he speaks on a stage. He is wearing formal pants and a flower-print short sleeve shirt.

Marc Raibert, founder and chairman of Boston Dynamics, speaks at a Hyundai Motor Group news conference during CES 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Steve Marcus/Reuters/Alamy

Last week, Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics announced an initial investment of over $400 million to launch the new Boston Dynamics AI Institute. The Institute was conceptualized by (and will be led by) Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, with the goal of “solving the most important and difficult challenges facing the creation of advanced robots.” That sounds hugely promising, but of course we had questions—namely, what are those challenges, how is this new institute going to solve them, and what are these to-be-created advanced robots actually going to do? And fortunately, IEEE Spectrum was able to speak with Marc Raibert himself to get a better understanding of what the Institute will be all about.

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Emmy Award Winner’s Algorithms Bring High-Quality Video to Your TV

He is working on making high-res images for the metaverse

5 min read
portrait of Alan Bovik
Alan Bovik

Alan Conrad Bovik’s passion for science fiction inspired him to pursue a career in engineering. His favorite sci-fi authors when he was young were Arthur C. Clarke, who penned 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Isaac Asimov, author of the Foundation series. Bovik says they wrote from a “very scientific point of view”—which made him want to help develop aerospace technology that would send humans “to other worlds.”

But he decided to study nuclear engineering in school—which then seemed like the future of energy. He discovered, however, that he didn't like the subject because it “required too much chemistry and memorization,” he says with a laugh. When he took a course in computer programming, he fell in love with it and ended up changing his major to computer engineering.

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A Multiphysics Approach to Designing Fuel Cells for Electric Vehicles

White paper on fuel cell modeling and simulation

1 min read
Comsol Logo
Comsol

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) often reach higher energy density and exhibit greater efficiency than battery EVs; however, they also have high manufacturing costs, limited service life, and relatively low power density.

Modeling and simulation can improve fuel cell design and optimize EV performance. Learn more in this white paper.