QBotix’ WALL-E Goes to Work for Cheaper Solar Power | Ideas & Innovations | Smithsonian Magazine

4 Sep


QBotix robots adjust solar panels for maximum sun exposure—making solar power cheaper and more efficient. (Courtesy of QBotix)


A shiny silver robot zips along a track at a county jail in Dublin, California, and stops beside a set of solar panels propped up by a giant arm. The robot latches onto the base of the arm and turns it slowly, tilting the face of the panels like flowers to the sun. By angling the solar panels just so, the robot helps the panels catch more rays and produce more energy.

This robot, about the size of a microwave oven, is the brainchild of QBotix, a three-year-old company based in Silicon Valley that unveiled its creation last year. While tilting solar panels to track the sun’s movement isn’t a new concept, QBotix has come up with a novel approach that makes use of advances in robotics technology made over the past two decades. If the idea proves successful, it could lead to cheaper renewable energy and more efficient use of land for big solar installations.

Such innovations are important if solar electricity is to achieve costs comparable to power generated by fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. And in a time when many solar plants are being built or planned for remote desert regions, where sunlight and broad swaths of undeveloped land are abundant, robotics offer a way to minimize the need for on-site workers to clean, repair and monitor solar panels and tracking equipment.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ideas-innovations/WALL-E-Goes-to-Work-for-Cheaper-Solar-Power-221817531.html#ixzz2dvHq0X2J
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

via WALL-E Goes to Work for Cheaper Solar Power | Ideas & Innovations | Smithsonian Magazine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: