Naval intelligence, new and improved

Smart ships with power systems that can think and repair themselves sound like something out of a futuristic science-fiction novel. But Ganesh Kumar Venayagamoorthy is working to make them a reality for the U.S. Navy.


Funded through a three-year, $405,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Venayagamoorthy is developing an intelligent all-electric ship power system.
“The all-electric ship power system is not new,” explains Venayagamoorthy, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and the director of UMR’s Real-Time Power and Intelligent Systems (RTPIS) Laboratory. “We’ll be trying to equip the shipboard’s power system with intelligence and self-healing capabilities. During ‘fight and hurt operations,’ we want the shipboard power system’s control and reconfiguration to be autonomous and fast to maximize survivability and operability of the ship.”
Venayagamoorthy says his research on the all-electric ship power system could be applied to intelligent, land-based power microgrid systems, which may one day help shoulder the nation’s growing need for electricity. Microgrid systems – clusters of small, distributed sources of energy that serve a group of buildings or a neighborhood – are a new approach to power generation that could provide reliable power without overburdening the nation’s aging transmission lines and stressed grid.
“Microgrids are envisioned to be part and parcel of the future intelligent power grid,” Venayagamoorthy explains. “Like the shipboard power system, microgrids will require intelligent multi-agents that are based on artificial immune system, swarm intelligence and brain-like intelligence – concepts based on the ideas of approximate dynamic programming (a method of solving multi-stage problems) and reinforcement learning – to maximize reliability.”
Venayagamoorthy, one of 33 recipients nationwide who received the 2007 ONR’s Young Investigator Award, received an additional $350,000 from ONR’s Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), for a total of $755,000 from ONR. The DURIP funds, and a portion of the ONR YIP award, will be used to enhance the real-time simulation and hardware-in-the-loop capabilities of RTPIS lab.

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