SOLV Energy announced during the TechCrunch Disrupt 2022 Conference in San Francisco that it has invested in Swap Robotics. Swap Robotics is an autonomous robotics company that provides 100% electric vegetation management services for utility-scale solar PV facilities.
Swap Robotics’ autonomous vegetation management solution is one of the first products to be specifically designed and optimized for use on PV solar sites. The Swap team pre-maps each site during the initial teaching run, identifying the safest, most efficient cutting path through the project area. Once the robots have mapped out the area, they can run their routes autonomously with remote oversight by supervisory personnel. Swap robots are designed to traverse variable terrain with cutting decks suited to tackle thick grass and woody vegetation that can reach up to two inches in diameter. The company says its 100% electric “rough cut” cutting deck can cut thick vegetation that other robotic solutions cannot.
Applying smart solutions to the challenging task of vegetation management supports SOLV Energy’s commitment to creating better jobs and safer work environments for employees. Autonomous technology reduces maintenance costs and increases performance while lowering the risk of injuries resulting from repetitive and difficult tasks. Remote oversight reduces time spent outside in challenging weather by field technicians and allows for delegation of worker hours to support field teams in remote areas where employees are difficult to hire and retain. The use of all-electric Swap robots also aligns with SOLV Energy’s site decarbonization goals, eliminating the need for gasoline powered mowers on site.
“Swap Robotics’ cutting decks demonstrate an impressive capability to navigate extremely uneven terrain and remove thick vegetation that has posed consistent problems for traditional mowers,” said Tucker Ruberti, SOLV Energy’s director of corporate development & strategy. “Swap’s robot has been identified by our subject matter experts as the only sufficiently rugged and powerful solution for utility PV use based on over a decade of experience building and managing large-scale solar projects.”
The partnership between SOLV Energy and Swap Robotics accelerates development of innovative technology essential to supporting rapid industry growth in the coming years. As part of a joint agreement, the companies will collaborate on new robotics use-cases on solar sites across the country. SOLV Energy is the largest affiliated O&M provider in the U.S., with over 10 GW under management in 26 states.
“The solar industry is gearing up for huge investment resulting from the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Driving the development of innovative technology is essential to optimizing our capabilities and preparing our workforce for the influx of new projects in a growing number of states,” said George Hershman, CEO of SOLV Energy. “While a partnership with Swap Robotics will allow us to better serve our clients, even more importantly, it supports our people here at SOLV Energy, providing them with additional tools to do their jobs more efficiently and in safer work environments.”
Swap Robotics’ vegetation management solution is in use on one SOLV Energy O&M site now, with further sites starting in all operating regions over the next six months.
News item from SOLV Energy