The University of Southampton

Best paper award for computerised agents

Published: 6 May 2010

A system of computerised agents which can manage energy use and storage in homes won a Best Paper Award at an international conference on autonomous agents yesterday (12 May 2010).

The award was presented to researchers from the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at AAMAS 2010, the 9th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, which takes place from 10 to 14 May in Toronto, Canada, and was chaired by Professor Michael Luck of King's College London, and formerly of the School of Electronics and Computer Science..

The award was for a paper entitled Agent-based Micro-Storage Management for the Smart Grid, which beat 684 other submissions. The paper describes a system developed by ECS researchers, Dr Krishnen Vytelingum, Dr Thomas Voice and Dr Sarvapali Ramchurn, to optimise individual electricity usage and storage, in order to improve efficiency of the electricity grid and to reduce emissions. Having already developed agents that can trade on the stock market and manage crisis communications, the team, led by Dr Alex Rogers and Professor Nick Jennings, have now developed an agent-based micro-storage management technique that allows homes to adapt their energy use to match market conditions.

“The AAMAS 2010 adjudication committee described our system as an excellent example of bringing deep theory together with an exciting and innovative application that really marked this as an outstanding paper,” said Professor Jennings. “They said that it clearly demonstrated the potential of agent technology in this major new domain and should open the door for much future work in this area.”

According to Dr Rogers, who earlier this year launched an iPhone application, named GridCarbon, to measure the carbon intensity of the UK grid, this system will make it possible to install smart software into electricity meters. This will mean that the agents will be able to optimise the usage and storage profile of the dwelling and learn the best storage profile given market prices at any particular time.

“This approach focuses on the system dynamics where all agents in the system are given the freedom to buy electricity whenever they see fit and, building on this, they can then learn the best storage profile in a market place where prices keep changing,” says Dr Rogers.

“Another advantage is that if most homes in the system start using storage and manage to reduce peak demand, the overall cost of generating electricity is reduced.”

The ECS group had 11 full papers accepted for this year's AAMAS conference, which is a record for the event.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel. +44(0)23 8059 5453.

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