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By | January 11, 2024

Open Source Summit Japan Keynote Recap: Redefining Grid Operations from the Edge with Open Distributed AI, Marissa Hummon, Utilidata

Open Source Summit Japan 2023 offered an informative keynote by LF Energy Governing Board Member Dr. Marissa Hummon, Chief Technology Officer at Utilidata, who delved into the transformative potential of open distributed AI in redefining electric grid operations from the edge. Key insights from her presentation are below, followed by a recording of the full session.

Navigating the Energy Landscape
Hummon commenced her talk by shedding light on LF Energy, a Linux Foundation project aimed at unifying the energy industry. She emphasized the significance of bringing together grid companies, software vendors, and academia to drive collective progress.

The Edge of Transformation
A pivotal theme of Hummon’s discussion was the imminent and rapid transformation at the edge of the electric grid. She projected a dynamic shift in the next 5 to 10 years, highlighting the intersection where utilities meet customers. With the surge in electric vehicles, solar adoption, and other advancements, the grid’s edge is poised for profound changes.

Inadequacies of Current Tools
Hummon underscored the inadequacies of existing tools in preparing for the upcoming shifts. Conventional methods are not geared to handle the complexity and scalability demanded by the evolving grid dynamics. This recognition set the stage for her argument in favor of embracing open distributed AI.

The Call for Open Distributed AI
A core proposition of Hummon’s keynote was the urgent need for the open source community to respond to these challenges with open distributed AI. This entails leveraging AI technologies at the grid’s edge to enhance visibility, forecasting, and real-time management. It’s not just a technological evolution; it’s a strategic imperative for the energy sector.

A Vision for the Future
Drawing on her extensive experience in renewable energy, Hummon envisioned a future where distributed AI platforms, based on open source technologies, would navigate the complexities of the grid efficiently. By embracing digitization and real-time decision-making, the energy industry could facilitate a rapid, equitable transition towards a decarbonized and electrified future.

Utilidata’s Contribution – Karman
Hummon introduced Utilidata’s platform, Karman, as a manifestation of this vision. Karman, the software-defined grid platform, is built on Nvidia’s Jetson Nano, linking the grid with devices like EV chargers, solar inverters, and batteries. This platform is instrumental in providing real-time data and insights from the edge to enable informed decision-making.

Overcoming Challenges
Hummon acknowledged the challenges posed by the increasing complexity of grid endpoints and coupled systems. However, she expressed confidence in the open source community’s ability to drive innovation and overcome these challenges, urging continued support for LF Energy and collaborative efforts.

A Simulated Glimpse into the Future
The keynote concluded with a simulation showcasing the power of distributed AI in differentiating between appliances’ energy use, exemplified by distinguishing between an oven starting and an EV beginning to charge. This simple yet impactful illustration highlighted the real-time capabilities and insights achievable through localized computation.

Hummon’s keynote not only illuminated the challenges facing the energy industry but also provided a roadmap for a transformative journey. As we navigate the evolving energy landscape, Marissa’s insights serve as a compass, pointing towards a horizon where technology and sustainability converge for the greater good.