NASA-backed challenge: Indian engineers to find hydel power solutions

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The solutions being developed as part of a challenge facilitated by NASA, will be used for the 53 hydropower stations operated by the Bureau of Reclamation in the western United States.

Hyderabad: Freelancer.com, the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace with 5.1 crore registered users, along with Arrow Electronics, a global electronic components distributor, rolled out a $250,000 Automated Maintenance of Protection Systems (AMPS) Challenge, for the Bureau of Reclamation of the US (which produces hydroelectric power). NASA is facilitating the challenge that allows Indian electrical and electronic engineers to contest, as well as those from other nationalities.

The aim of the challenge is to improve the reliability of hydropower plant generation by automating protection system testing and reducing plant downtime. The Freelancer.com and ArrowPlus platforms are expected to attract a large number of candidates offering a variety of viable solutions from across the world, including India, which is known for its engineering talent pool.

Freelancer has broad expertise in engineering with over 2.5 million freelance engineers on its platform, with about 2,60,000 who specialise in electrical engineering. The platform has sourced over 13,000 product designs from more than 6,000 designers in contests run on behalf of NASA.

Freelancer chief executive Matt Barrie told Telangana Today, “There are over 1.26 crore Indian registered users on Freelancer.com platform. This reclamation contest is open for every nationality including all Indian electrical engineers on Freelancer.com and ArrowPlus platforms. NASA’s Open Innovation Service (NOIS) is a world leader in crowdsourcing and they have been using Freelancer.com since 2015 to crowdsource solutions to the most complex problems being faced by astronauts on the cutting edge of space exploration.”

“For now, the solutions will be used for the 53 hydropower stations operated by the Bureau of Reclamation in the western US. However, the technology could be applicable to all types of electrical relays, not just in hydropower generation. This is akin to the invention of the windscreen wiper motor- an innovation that could be adopted universally,” he added.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s AMPS Challenge will be a two-phase challenge seeking improvements and/or fresh concepts to automate protection system testing at Reclamation hydropower facilities comprising a White Paper Challenge and a Prototype Challenge.

The White Paper Challenge offers a total prize of $100,000, expecting to award up to 10 prizes of $10,000 each. In the Prototype Challenge, commencing immediately after the White Paper Challenge ends, the best prototype will be awarded up to $100,000 prize. In addition, up to $10,000 awards will be presented for teams that excel in individual benchmarks for a total prototype purse of $150,000. This is the first task order won by Freelancer under the $25 million NOIS2 joint tender and is valued at $365,000.


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