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USA: Robot worms, lasers, drones and AI: How the DOE wants to move the US power grid underground

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Explore groundbreaking advancements in power infrastructure resilience and modernization with the latest article on submerged US power grid initiatives. Delve into the transformative impact of innovative projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), including the Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security program (GOPHURRS). Uncover details about worm-inspired digging techniques, AI-driven underwater drones, and ground-penetrating radar enhancing power infrastructure. Learn about cutting-edge technologies like robotic tunneling tools and portable sensing platforms revolutionizing power line installation and maintenance. Gain insights into the potential of AI systems to process seismic survey data for improved utility line identification. Stay informed about initiatives aimed at increasing power resilience and bringing the aging grid into the 21st century, as endorsed by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. Join us as we explore the future of energy sustainability and grid resilience.


Mike Beehler on LinkedIn: Robot worms, lasers, drones and AI: How ARPA-E  wants to move the US power…

Enhancing Power Resilience: Innovations in Underground Grid Infrastructure Funded by ARPA-E

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $34 million in funding for a dozen initiatives aimed at enhancing the country’s power resilience by submerging some grid infrastructure.

Small and large businesses, regional labs, and universities are developing the projects, which span 11 states. They are managed by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy and funded by the Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security program, also known as GOPHURRS.

Several worm-inspired digging techniques, an artificial intelligence and underwater drone solution, ground-penetrating radar, and advancements in cable deployment and splicing are some of the projects.

Innovations in Undergrounding Power Lines for Resilient Urban Power Systems

Over 180 million power poles and more than 5.5 million line miles make up the United States ‘ electrical system, which DOE claimed is “all of which are susceptible to damage by weather and its effects and account for the majority of power outages in the country each year. Undergrounding power lines is a proven way to increase the system reliability for transmission and distribution grids”

Although it is usually expensive, moving power lines under can keep them running through storms and lower the risk of starting wildfires. According to a survey of investor-owned utilities conducted by the California Public Utilities Commission, undergrounding existing lines would cost between$ 1.85 million per mile and more than $6 million, in 2019 dollars.

The projects, according to DOE, will help to lower the cost of moving lines beneath while also accelerating and improving the safety of that work. Projects include the following:

  • For the creation of a “robotic worm tunneling construction tool” that can dig and install conduit and cables in one step, $3.7 million was donated to GE Vernova Advanced Research. According to a DOE list of projects tapped for funding, the tool, known as SPEEDWORM, could be used from any common pickup truck.
  • To locate existing utility lines, $4 million will be donated to the RTX Technology Research Center for the development of a portable sensing platform that will use radar techniques based on quantum radio frequency sensors and artificial intelligence.
  • Prysmian Cables &amp, Systems USA, received$ 4.5 million for a hands-free power cable splicing machine that could use laser cutting, an enhanced vision system, and machine learning to fit into an utility access hole.
  • To identify existing utilities and various subsurface obstacles before installing underwater power distribution lines $3.75 million will be donated to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the development of an artificial intelligence system that will process seismic survey data into digital twin and augmented reality.

DOE Initiative: Advancing Power Resilience Through Underwater Grid Infrastructure and Next-Gen Energy Technologies

In a statement, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm stated that “DOE is supporting teams across the nation as they develop creative approaches to burying power infrastructure underwater, increasing our resilience and bringing our aging grid into the 21st Century.”

High-impact energy technologies that are very early for private sector investment are the focus of the Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy. It revealed on Thursday that funding up to$ 30 million is available to increase fusion energy’s sustainability and commercial viability. Additionally, it made$ 38 million applicable in December to make it possible to transport and store renewable energy using liquids that contain carbon.

Viktor Musil

Victor Musil, pen name for Edouard Py, advocates for inclusive, people-centered city development. His work underscores the importance of ethical considerations and equitable access, shaping the discourse on urban innovation worldwide.

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