Role of the brain
Because the brain operates in a completely different way than traditional computing systems, the first step was to try to make sense of how the brain integrates and responds to data. To do so, Venayagamoorthy enlisted the expertise of neuroscientist Steve Potter, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory for NeuroEngineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Potter recently pioneered a new method for understanding how the brain integrates and responds to information at the network level. The technique involves growing neurons in a dish containing a grid of electrodes that can both stimulate and record activity. The electrodes connect the neuronal network to a computer, allowing two-way communication between the living and the electronic components.
Potter’s group has had success with this approach in the past, having shown that living neuronal networks can be made to control computer-simulated animals and simple robots. In the current project, the network is trained to recognize and respond to voltage and speed signals from Venayagamoorthy’s power grid simulation.
“The goal is to translate the physical and functional changes that occur as living neuronal network learns into mathematical equations, ultimately leading to a more brain-like intelligent control system,” says Venayagamoorthy.
The purpose is to develop brain-inspired computer code. The investigators have successfully “taught” a living neuronal network how to respond to complex data, and have incorporated these findings into simulated versions called bio-inspired artificial neural networks (BIANNS). They are currently using the new and improved BIANNS to control synchronous generators connected to a power system.
Venayagamoorthy and his team hope that this work will pave the way for smarter control of our future power grid.
This project was supported by NSF’s Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI).