RE2 Robotics has been selected for $1.9 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to develop a robotic system for the Outdoor Autonomous Manipulation of Photovoltaic Panels (O-AMPP).
“RE2 will utilize its extensive experience and technological foundation in autonomous manipulation to customize and integrate a robotic arm for this program,” said Dr. Amanda Sgroi, principal research scientist. “Our machine learning and artificial intelligence modules, RE2 Detect and RE2 Intellect, will be applied to ensure that the system is capable of autonomously manipulating and placing PV modules to construct a solar field.”
The O-AMPP program will enable RE2 to apply its outdoor, autonomous robotic technology, which uses computer vision and machine-learning techniques, to the solar construction industry. RE2’s mobile robotic arm capability will be optimized to support transfer, manipulation and placement of PV modules to enhance the process for solar field assembly.
The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2020 (SETO 2020) funding program supports projects that will improve the affordability, reliability and value of solar technologies on the U.S. grid and tackle emerging challenges in the solar industry. Specifically, RE2’s program falls under the Innovations in Manufacturing – Hardware Incubator. These technologies will lower the costs of solar energy technologies, facilitate the secure integration of solar electricity onto the grid, and support a strong U.S. solar manufacturing sector and supply chain.
“Our goal is to provide the solar industry with a new resource to expedite construction,” said Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO. “The solar construction process is mostly manual today, with large amounts of repetitive tasks across very large projects. Developing technologies that make the process more efficient will serve to make solar an even more economic source of energy for the future. However, using RE2’s mobile intelligent manipulation technology, we seek to improve labor productivity, bolster worker safety, reduce construction costs, and improve the efficiency and quality of installation. It is possible that through this innovative robotic concept, solar energy may become more accessible to all.”
RE2 will partner with several industry leaders, including The AES Corporation, Array Technologies, JLG Industries, Mortenson, and Pratt Miller to provide the solar industry with robotic construction capabilities.
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Travis Schneider says
I can completely understand the concern about the potential for a reduction in workforce needs as a result of this technology. However, the primary objective of this project isn’t to reduce the size of team required to install modules. Rather the goal is to improve their speed, or efficiency when installing modules, so that plants can be produced in a shorter amount of time. This will increase the capacity of these teams to build more plants over the course of the year for a lower cost. Ultimately this will improve access to solar power, and actually create new jobs as more people invest in solar.
Well, if this stuff works it would reduce the amount of manpower needed for these large and small solar fields.
Green Ridge Solar says
This sounds like a great innovation. However, it could turn out to be a concerning development for those construction workers who rely on solar installation jobs.