Categories
Security

Ukraine says it stopped a Russian cyberattack on its power grid

An attack on Ukraine’s power grid was foiled by cybersecurity analysts and officials, as reported by Reuters. After investigating the methods and software used by the attackers, cybersecurity firm ESET says that it was likely carried out by a hacking group called Sandworm, which The Record reports allegedly has ties to the Russian government.

The group planned to shut down computers that controlled substations and infrastructure belonging to a particular power company, according to the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (or CERT-UA). The hackers meant to cut off power on April 8th while also wiping the computers that would be used to try and get the grid back online.

This attempted attack involved a wide variety of malware, according to ESET, including the recently discovered CaddyWiper. ESET also found a new piece of malware, which it calls Industroyer2. The original Industroyer was used in a successful 2016 cyberattack that cut off power in parts of Kyiv, according to the security firm, probably by the same group behind this month’s foiled attack. Industroyer isn’t widely used by hackers — ESET notes that it’s only seen it used twice (earlier this month and in 2016), which implies that it’s written for very specific uses.

CERT-UA says that the hackers were biding their time, initially breaching the company’s systems before March. ESET’s analysis shows that one of the main pieces of malware was compiled over two weeks before the attack was supposed to take place.

It’s unclear how the hackers initially got into the company’s network or how they gained access to the network that controls industrial equipment like the targeted substations. The analysis does show, however, that the hackers were planning on covering their tracks after the attack.

Ukraine and its infrastructure have been targeted by hackers since before the Russian invasion began. It’s likely that this won’t be the last attack on its power grid, but the country’s response to this incident shows that its cybersecurity defense strategy is capable of warding off complex attacks.

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Game

‘Grid Legends’ arrives on February 25th

The next game in the series, and the first since Electronic Arts , has a release date. Grid Legends will hit PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC on February 25th.

Codemasters at EA Play Live in July. Grid Legends has a story mode inspired by Netflix docuseries Formula 1: Drive to Survive. It features live-action performances that were filmed using the same virtual set tech as The Mandalorian.

You’ll be able to drive in more than 100 vehicles at the outset, and compete in more than 250 events in Career mode. The Drift and Elimination modes return, and players can check out a race creator and a new mode called Electric Boost. There’s cross-platform multiplayer support, and Codemasters says you’ll be able to race online after “three quick button presses” with the action starting almost immediately after you choose a race.

Grid Legends joins a bunch of major games that are coming out in February. It arrives on the same day as and soon after the likes of , , and . Although Grid Legends won’t have to compete with any big racing games in February, another heavy hitter will be available just one week later: .

Meanwhile, Codemasters has offered the first in-depth look at Grid Legends gameplay. Along with an Elimination race and a big rig in action, shows some street racing in heavy rain.

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Categories
Game

Grid Legends: Release Date, Trailer, News, and More

EA has swept up most of the major players in the racing game development scene. Codemasters was the latest acquisition, just happening at the end of 2020, a company that’s been making racing games since way back in 1986. Their most popular racing franchises, however, are the F1 and Grid series. With so many racing franchises under their publishing wing, many were unsure whether or not we’d see another Grid game anytime soon.

During EA Play Live 2021, we got a bombshell of an announcement, trailer and all, for the next game in the Grid franchise, Grid Legends. There’s a built-in audience for this series that will automatically be excited for another high-speed, beautiful racing experience, but also a lot of reasons for new fans to take a closer look at this game. This game is attempting to reinvent the longstanding racing series with plenty of new features and improvements. Here’s everything we know so far about the upcoming Grid Legends.

Further reading

Release date

Unfortunately, this announcement trailer, despite having some really exciting info, did not contain the all-important release date. EA did say that they expect the game to come out at some point in 2022, but that was as specific as they wanted to get. Just based on our own hunches and speculation, we expect it either in the fall of 2022 or pushed into 2023.

Platforms

Two cars race side by side in Grid Legends.

There’s no release date yet, so we don’t know when we can play Grid Legends, but we do know where we can play it. This next racing adventure will hit both last- and current-generation consoles, including PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, as well as PCs.

Trailer

The official reveal trailer was quite short and very unique for a racing game. It did show off a lot of cars, tracks, and environments, but also a lot of live-action segments. While strange at first, we later learned that the new story mode is looking to really up their production by having a cast of live-action actors placed in the world of the game. The closest comparison to this would be what we saw in Quantum Break, where certain scenes were shot in live-action.

The trailer showed off a number of cast members, most notably Ncuti Gatwa, who some may recognize for his role in the Netflix series Sex Education. He will be just one of many actors playing the role of racers, friends and rivals, that will make up the cast of this expanded story. We don’t know much more about this story, except that it looks to be Codemaster’s most ambitious yet.

Gameplay

Two cars launch off a jump in Grid Legends.

At its core, Grid Legends is going to be exactly what you think: A high-octane, fast-paced, dynamic racing game that pushes your driving skills to the limits. Again, we haven’t seen actual gameplay just yet, but we feel pretty confident in the fact that, with the exception of some new mechanics, you can expect a pure racing experience here.

What new details we do have are all very exciting for this next entry. We will be able to fully customize each and every one of Grid Legends cars, which is also expanded to encompass classic tourers, single-seaters, and even big rigs as seen in the trailer. The full number of cars at launch hasn’t been shared yet, but we do know that there will be over 130 routes, with plenty of iconic real-world tracks like Brands Hatch and Indianapolis, alongside brand new locals from across the globe such as London and Strada Alpina.

Aside from modifying your cars, players will also be able to create their own event types. Want to make an event all about seeing who can pull off the longest drift or have team-based elimination-style races? Go for it! You can even throw in more arcade-style options like boosts. Everything you make or other players make can be shared online via the custom event browser.

Multiplayer

EA and Codemasters don’t even need to state it, though they do reference it nonetheless, for us to know that there will be multiplayer in Grid Legends. Every Grid game that has come out has had a multiplayer component, and now more than ever, online communities and games-as-services are being pushed, especially by big publishers like EA. As we mentioned, we know that there will be some kind of multiplayer server or playlist browser where you can play other people’s created game modes and presumably also all the standard modes we expect.

The only question we have on this topic is if there will be any split-screen support for Grid Legends. Games that push the graphical envelope, as well as strive for high frame rates, such as racing games, are very rare to get split-screen options anymore due to hardware limitations. We’d love to be able to have a friend next to us on the couch join in for some races, but for right now, we’ll have to wait and see if that’s a possibility.

DLC

Several cars zip around a bend in Grid Legends.

Nothing’s been announced — the game itself was only just revealed — but this is another area where we feel safe in saying that there most likely will be DLC added down the line. Racing games have always been a perfect fit for extra content down the line, like new cars, tracks, modes, and other options. It’s easy for developers to just keep adding more to this type of game without worrying about any continuity or anything like a more narrative-based experience.

As with all EA games, though, we do have to keep an eye out for how predatory their DLC is. They’ve been doing better lately, and if trends continue, then we may get maps and modes for free but have to pay for cosmetic options and perhaps certain cars as well. If that ends up breaking the balance, Grid Legends could end up as another pay-to-win nightmare, but for now, we want to remain optimistic.

Pre-order

2022 is still far off, and if our predictions are correct, we’re still over a year out until Grid Legends may hit stores and digital shelves. We have to wait for EA and Codemasters to narrow down that wide release window to a specific date before pre-orders will open up, but once they do, we’ll have all the info on the different editions, where to pre-order, and all that fun stuff as soon as it drops.

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Categories
Game

The next Grid game uses the same virtual set tech as ‘The Mandalorian’

offered the first look at the next Grid game during . Grid Legends features a story mode that mashes together live-action performances and in-game action. Senior gameplay designer Becky Crossdale said Codemasters harnessed the same extended reality tech that was used to create the world of The Mandalorian.

In the story mode, you’ll be “front and center in a fly-on-the-wall documentary that captures every moment on and off the track” during the Grid World Series, according to . The cast includes Ncuti Gatwa (Netflix’s Sex Education).

You’ll be able to race in and upgrade more than 100 vehicles, including touring cars, big rigs, single seaters and stadium trucks. With the race creator, you can set up a showdown between a variety of mixed-class rides. There will also be more than 130 tracks to race on including real-life locations like Brands Hatch and Indianapolis and street routes in the likes of San Francisco, Paris, London and Moscow.

 is coming to PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC in 2022. Codemasters plans to reveal more details in the coming months.

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Categories
AI

AI Weekly: How the power grid can benefit from intelligent software

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Google parent Alphabet’s “moonshot” X lab announced last week at the White House Leaders Summit on Climate that it’s working on a project for the electric grid. Over the past three years, the lab says it has been investigating “new computational tools” designed to bring the grid “out of the industrial age and into the age of the intelligence.” Among other areas, X says it’s experimenting with (1) a real-time virtualization that shows power moving onto and off the grid, (2) tools that simulate what might actually happen on the grid, and (3) a platform to make information about the grid useful to stakeholders.

The work is being led by Audrey Zibelman, former managing director at Australian electricity and gas systems operations firm Australia Energy Market Operator, and it remains in the planning stages. But experts believe the core of this effort — intelligent software — is likely to become increasingly important in the energy sector.

“Hybrid plants and battery energy storage now mean power plants can be controlled and can simulate traditional power plants, and this will require sophisticated IT to integrate forecasting of reusable energy production, along with forecasting prices,” Ric O’Connell, executive director of clean energy consulting firm GridLab, told VentureBeat via email.

The U.S. electrical grid has long been burdened by aging infrastructure. Sixty percent of distribution lines have surpassed their 50-year life expectancy, according to Black and Veatch, while the Brattle Group anticipates $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion in spending by 2030 to modernize the grid and maintain reliability. The latest report from the American Society for Civil Engineers found that current grid investment trends will lead to funding gaps of $42 billion for transmission and $94 billion for distribution by 2025.

Neil Sahota, chief innovation officer at the University of California, Irvine, says intelligent software opens the door to the deployment of AI designed for power grid use cases. Utilities are already employing AI to address the windfalls and fluctuations in energy usage. Precise load forecasting ensures operations aren’t interrupted, thereby preventing blackouts and brownouts. And it can bolster the efficiency of utilities’ internal processes, leading to reduced prices and improved service.

“There are a lot of subtle clues that in aggregate show where and when a natural disaster can occur. To ‘see’ the clues, we need to process a lot of data across a broad spectrum of variables and look for subtle differences,” Sahota told VentureBeat via email. “This is difficult for people to do effectively but is in the wheelhouse of AI. Consider wildfires, where we are using climate information (including wind forecasts), drone surveillance, and satellite images to predict hot spots and how a fire may start and spread. AI can monitor all these millions of data points in real time and constantly generate prediction models.”

For example, startup Autogrid works with more than 50 utilities in 10 countries to deliver AI-informed power usage insights. Its platform makes 10 million predictions every 10 minutes and optimizes over 50 megawatts of power, which is enough to supply the average suburb. Flex, the company’s flagship product, predicts and controls tens of thousands of energy resources from millions of customers by ingesting, storing, and managing petabytes of data from trillions of endpoints. Using a combination of data science, machine learning, and network optimization algorithms, Flex models both physics and customer behavior, automatically anticipating and adjusting for supply and demand patterns.

O’Connell believes that efforts like X’s will face challenges, particularly on the distributed energy resource (DER) side of the equation. DER systems — small-scale power generation or storage technologies that provide an alternative to traditional power systems or enhance those systems — can be difficult to orchestrate because they might span solar panels, electric vehicle charging setups, and even smart thermostats. But if a digital transformation of the power grid succeeds, its long-term benefits could be significant, O’Connell says.

“Currently, when independent system operators want to add a new market participant type, it takes them a year to incorporate those changes. That’s legacy IT systems,” he said. “The IT systems that grid operators will need are going to have to get a serious upgrade from the ’90s technology that they use now.”

For AI coverage, send news tips to Kyle Wiggers — and be sure to subscribe to the AI Weekly newsletter and bookmark our AI channel, The Machine.

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Kyle Wiggers

AI Staff Writer

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Categories
Tech News

Alphabet’s X moonshot division wants to bring AI to the electric grid

Google parent Alphabet has been working on “a moonshot” for the electric grid, with a secret project in its X R&D division aiming to figure out how to make power use more stable, and more green, than it is today. The research, revealed at the White House Leaders Summit on Climate, has been underway for the past three years.

The team at X – which began as Google X, and then was spun out into a separate division when Google created Alphabet as its overarching parent – isn’t planning to put up power lines and install solar panels and wind turbines itself. Instead, it’s looking at whether a more holistic understanding of the grid would help in the transition to environmentally stable sources.

“Right now our work is more questions than answers,” Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X, says, “but the central hypothesis we’ve been exploring is whether creating a single virtualized view of the grid – which doesn’t exist today – could make the grid easier to visualize, plan, build and operate with all kinds of clean energy.”

Teller’s use of “moonshot” is a reference to the original NASA plan to put astronauts on the Moon, a project which was generally acknowledged as being ambitious and ground-breaking, not to mention with no immediate path to making a profit. While Teller leads the division, Alphabet brought in Audrey Zibelman – former CEO of Australian energy operator AEMO, and an expert in decarbonization of the electrical system – to lead this particular moonshot.

Power system stability has certainly been a hot topic so far in 2021. The outages in Texas, as parts of the state faced unprecedented weather conditions – and placed similarly unprecedented demands on the electrical grid – underscored just how outdated some of the infrastructure actually is at this point, not to mention how close to collapse it could be when stressed. At the same time, it stoked uncertainty and political points-scoring between advocates of fossil fuel power generation and those looking to embrace green sources, with conflicting claims about just what was to blame for the energy shortfall.

That’s a blind spot X’s moonshot could help address. Every grid operator, and every company or organization which builds and regulates power, has its own system and tools, and they rarely connect in a significant way, if at all. Grid operators, as a result, can’t necessarily see in real-time what sources are contributing what power, nor how the energy is flowing from point of origin to the final user.

The fix, Teller suggests, is machine learning and artificial intelligence, to bring some of the virtualization technologies familiar from computer science to the grid. Fellow Alphabet divisions like Waymo already use that sort of simulation and AI for autonomous vehicles, the X chief points out. There’s no reason they couldn’t also better model the electric grid.

As well as building a virtualization of the grid – which can encompass all sources and consumers – X is hoping to build in weather forecasts that will allow solar and wind energy production to be accurately predicted, and in turn “rapidly predict and simulate what might actually happen on the grid, whether it’s in the next few nanoseconds or decades in the future.”

Although operating secretly for the past three years, the as-yet unnamed project is breaking cover to help identify potential partners. “We’re announcing our work today because it’s not possible to explore this further without the close collaboration of organizations who know the intricacies of the grid,” Teller writes, “from grid operators to power system engineers to infrastructure experts, to the countries, cities, and towns who depend on it.”

Those possible partners could include power companies and others in the industry, but also policy makers and regulators, among others. There’s no timeline for when, exactly, X will have more to show. However, the recently announced Biden American Rescue Plan includes $100 billion to build a more resilient electric grid transmission system, focusing in part on building out more high-voltage capacity power lines.

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Categories
Tech News

BLUETTI EP500: Giant 5100 watt hour solar battery that allows you to cut the cord to the electrical grid

Sponsored Feature

As an innovative pioneer in the renewable energy industry, BLUETTI established its name in the off-grid power world with cutting edge, reliable power station product lineups. In addition to medium and small size portable power stations, they are also dedicated to research and development of high-power, large-capacity solar battery storage products.

In July 2020, Bluetti made the initial move to replace traditional gasoline generators with their ground breaking AC200. The AC200 features a 2000 watt rated inverter with 1700 watt hour battery capacity, a large array of outlets (including a ground breaking 25 amp 12 volt outlet) and up to 700W solar input with advanced built-in MPPT controller. The AC200 raised over US$6.8M on Indiegogo and changed the game in the portable power market immediately upon its release.

Upon crowdfunding completion, a follow up retail product the AC200P, with increased battery cycle life and LiFePO4 chemistry kept the legacy of AC200 while adding product improvement. The AC200P is loved by van-lifers, campers and RV travelers and people, those who are subject to frequent power outages. The AC200P has also been well received by those who want an integrated all in one solution to short or long term emergencies that result in the need for continued power supply for their homes.

6 months later, the BLUETTI Team is back with a brand new, finely engineered and crafted product with ground breaking capacity: The EP500

The EP500 contains a massive 5100 watt hour LiFePO4 battery pack that has more than 6000 charge cycles. The AC inverter is rated for 2000 watts of continuous output power with a surge capacity of 4800 watts. This inverter appears to be the same high quality and reliable unit being used on the highly successful AC200P.

The EP500’s elegant, minimalist design with massive capacity reminds us of the first-generation of Tesla’s Powerwall. With the four smooth rolling transport wheels, the EP500 is not meant to be large solar battery mounted on the wall or garage. The BLUETTI EP500 is designed to be a” no Installation needed”, plug and play product that can easily be moved to the desired location when needed.

Whether you use it as a seamless UPS home backup, or as an off-grid emergency power supply, all that is required is a press of the power button followed by activating the AC/DC switches and connecting the appliance(s) you want to power.

Compared to the long installation lead times of energy giants like Tesla or Sonnen, which take months or more than a year to make an appointment to install, the no-installation-needed BLUETTI EP500 is a game-changer in the large capacity solar battery market.

The rated AC inverter output power of 2000 continuous watts is high, but certainly not enough to power all of your electrical appliances. As an emergency energy storage power for the whole family, Bluetti has an option to double the AC output. For higher power loads, Bluetti is releasing its own “Fusion Panel terminal board”. With this accessory board, users can connect two EP500s in series, to double the rated 4000 watt power output. The Fusion board will also will also offer the option of 220/240 volt output to power 220 volt appliances. The high power output means you can now run your home air conditioner, clothes dryer, in-wall Electric Heater and other high power appliances with ease. No need to worry about power outages on a hot summer nights or cold, bitter winters anymore.

To monitor and operate remotely, the BLUETTI EP500 now supports remote App With their exclusive B-Lynk connection technology, you can easily monitor your EP500’s status and adjust settings it whether it is near you or a thousand miles away. No more having to walk to a unit to determine remaining battery or inverter capacity.

Equipped with the highest-capacity battery pack ever in the BLUETTI lineup, the EP500 also features powerful solar charging capability with up to 1200 watts input through its built in MPPT input. With prime sunlight, it takes only 5 hours to fully charge with solar input alone. The EP500 can be also charged at 600 watts input through and AC wall outlets. A built-in AC adapter is included so you can charge it with only a single AC power cable without needing a separate heavy power brick.

Still want faster charging? This class leading unit can be recharged at up to 1800 watts (1200W+600W) by using the two input ports simultaneously. Charging using both ports at the same time results in fully charged batteries in only 3 hours.

Last, but not least, except for the detailed specs and a explanation of new functions, there are two more questions that many people will be concerned about: How long can I operate my items and how does the after-sales services function for the BLUETTI products?

According to official information released, the EP500 is shipped with BLUETTI’s exclusive customized, long life LiFePO4 battery cells. The self-developed battery management system including the battery pack has a maximum 6000+ charge cycles. According to the average household electricity consumption of 3kWh per day, the BLUETTI EP500 can achieve up to 40 years of theoretical service life without using any grid energy! In addition, BLUETTI also provides a 5-year warranty and lifetime technical support for this market leading EP500. From what we can tell with current consumers’ feedback, BLUETTI is trustworthy in terms of after-sales service and support.

The pre-order for EP500 will begin on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter at 6:00 AM PDT, March 15th. It is estimated that the price for super early bird perks will be lower than $3000.

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