Solar energy is one of the most exciting technologies on the planet. It's an area where we've seen lots of progress in recent years, with advances in solar panel design and the advent of new materials to increase their efficiency. In fact, the Energy Information Administration projects that solar energy will account for one-fifth of the U.S.'s energy by 2050.
Considering this, it's no surprise that solar energy has been steadily converging with the field of robotics. Today, we'll discuss three interesting ways solar energy and robots have crossed paths for innovation:
Robotic solar panel cleaning solutions
Economist Sarah Mikhitarian emphasizes an increased demand for green living among Americans, with more than 80% of buyers expressing a desire for energy-efficient features in their homes. As such, many homeowners are adopting solar technology, given its many benefits. Solar energy is a clean, renewable source of power that does not produce any waste or harmful emissions. A guide to going solar by Hoymiles notes that solar power enables homeowners to save money on utility bills while reducing their carbon footprint. Having solar panels helps them achieve energy independence and drives up their property's value.
However, while solar panels offer a multitude of benefits for property owners, they also need a lot of care which not every homeowner is able to provide. This is where robots come in. New automated technologies have provided a solution for solar panel maintenance. Helios, a drone and robot combination, autonomously cleans solar panels with minimal human intervention. The robot uses sensors to locate dirty spots, then applies water and UV light to kill bacteria and other microorganisms and prevent dirt from building up over time. The end result? Cleaner panels that perform their intended function for a longer period.
Solar-powered security robots
Energy-efficient machines are a popular topic in the robotics industry as they are becoming increasingly prevalent in various applications. From robotic arms used in manufacturing to humanoid robots in customer service, there's no question that these machines are here to stay. Another application these robots can have lies in property security.
While video surveillance systems are commonly used methods of security in property complexes, they require access to electrical power and often need cables to operate. Solar-powered security robots, on the other hand, dispense with the need for electrical wires. They can work under a high level of autonomy as they patrol your area through thermal cameras, check for intruders using motion activity, and wirelessly alert you about suspicious activity that might be going on within the vicinity. Case in point, machines like the Knightscope Security Robot can help provide additional security for properties in vulnerable locations without the limitations of cables or grids.
Ground robots for solar farm maintenance
One of the most exciting things about robots is their ability to automate processes that typically require extensive human labor. Solar farms are no exception—ground robots can create these farms faster and more efficiently than humans ever could. They can build, maintain, and repair solar farms, as well as monitor the health of panels and other equipment to ensure that all systems are operating smoothly.
An excellent example of this technology is the Atlas Robot launched by AES in partnership with Cavalry Robots. The Altas was designed to accelerate solar installations and augment workers in solar facility construction. This robot can perform the energy-intensive work of heavy lifting, placing, and attachment of solar modules while adding new high-tech features like automated cleaning. This technology can ensure shorter project timelines, lower energy costs, and a safer work environment for the solar industry. With the help of robots in constructing solar farms, enterprises and governments can meet environmental sustainability goals at a faster and larger scale to meet the demand for greener energy.
The rise of solar power is creating a demand for more efficient robots to help humans maximize the potential of alternative energy sources. With the unique advantages both technologies can provide, we can expect an increased convergence between solar energy and robots in the years to come.
About the author
J Bellett is a freelance writer specializing in climate technology who has been creating content for over a decade.