GridConnext a Convergent Smart Grid Communications and Application Architecture

Period of Performance: 07/31/2017 - 07/30/2019


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Real-time Innovations
232 East Java Drive Array
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


With the evolution of the modern grid, energy will also be generated by thousands of microgrids composed of solar arrays, wind farms, and batteries. In order to orchestrate the precise timing required to control energy flow, thousands of grid computing devices will need to be deployed at the edge – over wired and wireless/cellular networks. They will be running operating systems and software applications that will need to be periodically updated. All of these devices must be reliably and securely managed and monitored. Similar technology for IT systems will not work: the modern grid will have numerous owners, making standardization on one technology impossible. This also complicates securing the grid. This Phase II SBIR proposes a new approach that is device and software agnostic, enabling it to provide value over decades. To accomplish this we have created device configuration instructions that are independent of the underlying hardware, operating systems, and applications (devices become outdated in 10-15 years, in energy system terms). These instructions tell the devices how to configure their execution environments, the applications, and the security. Likened to building a house, we provide the detailed plans but leave the builder to implement them. The individual devices will have custom, device-specific, “instruction translation engines” that will consume the instructions and understand how to interpret and follow them based upon the unique features and requirements of each device (likened to state/local home building codes). To ensure that these instructions are properly interpreted by the engines, detailed specifications and guidance will be provided to anyone developing them. Verification and validation of each engine will be required. In Phase I, we developed a complete prototype of our system. The system was composed of a mix of 15 ARM- based and Intel-based devices running different operating systems. We successfully deployed our platform agnostic configuration instructions, and the devices configured themselves (including retrieving code and data from remote, secured, application repositories). We monitored the real-time status of each device (such as CPU and memory utilization), along with their physical location on Google Maps. In Phase II, we will be working in close collaboration with a major utility with over 7 million customers, and the NAESB and SEPA energy bodies, to ensure our research is aligned with their requirements and use cases. We will use the funding to advance our prototype implementation and demonstrate it within the utility’s high voltage substation test facility. We will contribute our software to the energy community to help drive adoption of the next-generation of modern grid standards (the NAESB Open Field Message Bus [OpenFMB]). This technology is relevant for other markets including defense, transportation infrastructure, and hospital medical device systems. The technology developed under this SBIR will be immediately applicable in several other commercial as well as government programs. RTI is experienced in commercializing technology with 100s of successful customers and maintains its top 1% rank (a rating of 100 in the DoD commercialization achievement index) as assigned by the DoD.