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QBotix is introducing a track based robot to align solar panels towards the sun called Solbot. This is a single axis tracking system, as opposed to a dual axis tracker, which also accounts for what time of year it is. Aiming the solar panels towards the sun allows the solar panels to be more efficient and get more energy from the sun. Wikipedia states:
It is estimated that trackers are used in at least 85% of commercial installations greater than 1MW from 2009 to 2012.
Solbot runs on a track, much like a monorail and can service up to 200 solar panels in 40 minutes. When connecting with each panel, Solbot adjusts the angle of the panel, but also collects data about the panel. Solbot also has a certified IP-65 rating, meaning it is impervious to dust and water.
For larger solar panel arrays, more Solbots can be added to the system. When not servicing the solar panels, Solbot returns home to the charging station.
QBotix expects to have the first commercial customer up and running by the end of September.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has a new robot that can create a six inch semiconductor on glass, metal or plastic. This process used to require a scientist visiting 5 different labs and was very time consuming. The new process works much faster than previously done and can help scientists find better ways of manufacturing solar cells that cost less.
How much faster? The robot working with silicon can build a semi-conductor on a six-inch-square plate of glass, plastic or flexible metal in about 35 minutes. It pivots and dishes like a point guard, sifts like a master chef, analyzes like a forensics expert and does it all while maintaining a vacuum seal on the entire process.
The laboratory has created six of these robots that may one day hit on a formula to make solar panels cheaper and more efficient than other alternatives . Once again, robots to the rescue and being a part in solving mankind’s energy crunch.
Solarbotics has a new Instructible up on how to build a Solar Powered Battle Symet.
This looks really fun as these BEAM robots spin a lot faster than their predecessors and are easy to make.
From the Instructible:
BEAM Solar Symets (a contraction from “Symmetrical Robots”) were first built by Mark Tilden many years ago as a way to provide mobile plant-life to the other creatures in his Robot Jurassic Park. Being quite simple by only using one solar-engine circuit, they’re quick and easy to build.
These versions use high-power Miller Solar Engine circuits, that make them spin much more madly than their pokey ancestors! If you are new to BEAM, it’s a design philosophy that incorporates minimalist electronics, and often, solar power.
Buy the Solarbotic bundle of parts or source your own.