The U.S. modern critical infrastructure is full of digitized components.  In a power grid, this includes distributed energy resources (DERs), which come in various forms and functions, are geographically spread out, and susceptible to not only natural hazards, but also cyberattacks. DERS are devices such as smart meters, solar inverters and power-quality sensors that are programmable as well as network connected.  These networks, as currently designed, typically rely on a single control center for analysis and decision making, i.e. a single point of failure if it or one of the devices is hacked or infiltrated by an adversary.

There is an urgent need to design the system so that when a cyber breach occurs, the system doesn’t just shut down or relinquish complete system control.  A multidisciplinary effort from LLNL mathematicians, system analysts, power engineers, cybersecurity experts and computational scientists looked to collaborative autonomy to address this cybersecurity issue with critical Infrastructure control systems.

Collaborative autonomy is a new class of computational techniques that teaches networked devices how to self-organize into a collective whole so that it could reliably monitor the system, detect improper commands, be able to defend itself by isolating compromised devices or control centers and maintain stable operations.  That is to say, no single device or control point can compromise the entire system or cause a network failure.


Skywing is an open-source, robust, real-time, decentralized software platform developed for domain scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists exploring collaborative-autonomy applications for critical infrastructure.  It provides approaches and solutions for real-world applications that solve problems and allow for confidence in the results.

With Skywing, devices have automated search-and-acquire functionality to find data. To perform tasks with the data, Skywing also offers a set of asynchronous consensus algorithms that allows devices to communicate with each other until they come to an agreement on a solution. These algorithms can be used as building blocks to construct more advanced applications.

Reference: C.J. Vogl, Z. Atkins, A. Fox, A. Miedlar, C. Ponce, Modifying the Asynchronous Jacobi Method for Data Corruption Resilience | (

Skywing is available via LLNL/Skywing | Github ( under the GPL v2.0 license, but a commercial license is also available. Users may choose either license, depending on their needs.

For the commercial license, please inquire at

  • Skywing makes it difficult for an adversary to achieve their objective (e.g. gain access to the network) because they would have to compromise many different devices rather than just one device, thus making the system much more resilient and secure.
  • Skywing helps lower the barrier to entry for those who may lack fluency in decentralized software development. 
Potential Applications

To defend against cyber-attacks and harden infrastructure control system

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