Sarcos has designed a PV robot solution that delivers, detects, lifts and places solar modules in large solar power plants. It has recently field-tested and validated a prototype solution in a pilot project funded by the US Department of Energy.
The US company recently received final validation of its prototype solution in the O-AMPP project funded by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Solar Energy Technology. It did not reveal the exact location of the pilot installation.
“The solar construction industry is facing an unprecedented labor shortage and, at the same time, an increase in demand for solar energy,” said Trent Mostaert, vice president of industrialization at construction engineering company Mortenson, a partner in the O-AMPP project. “We believe the O-AMPP system can meet these challenges and improve the safety, productivity and efficiency of our workers. It also enables solar project developers to scale production and output to meet the Department of Energy’s 2030 and 2050 renewable energy goals.”
the proof-of-concept robotic system consists of an autonomous work vehicle (AWV) with Sarcos’ Guardian XM robotic arm and an autonomous delivery vehicle (ADV). The solution uses cameras to identify where the solar panels must be installed. The robotic arm then autonomously lifts the panel up using a vacuum system and places it approximately where it needs to be attached to the mounting structure. “The arm then moves into a special position where the person attaching the panel can easily move the panel as desired to align it and attach it to the panels,” Sarcos explains in a video on his website.
The company did not provide details on whether the vacuum system’s lifting mechanism would lead to mechanical stress on the solar modules. It says the benefits of a robotic solution include lower project soft costs, project multiplication, better construction schedules and quality, and a safer job site that reduces the risk of lifting and fatigue injuries.
The O-AMPP project started in 2021, and Sarcos plans to commercialize its solution by 2024. “Achieving this market validation and field test milestone is an important step on our path to commercializing and ultimately improving safety of our robotic solar field construction solution. and productivity in building solar cells,” said Sarcos CEO Kiva Allgood.
Array Technologies supplied the tracking system used in the pilot project. Other industry partners included equipment manufacturer JLG Industries, car company Pratt Miller and Mortenson.