Solar Panel Cleaning Robot
Self Cleaning, Self Powered, Highly Reliable
Kemsys bringing IoT & Robotic technology for Solar Panel Cleaning
Continuous growth of the solar industry brings an ever-expanding base of solar installations. The life of solar modules is usually guaranteed for 25 years, and throughout its life span, cleaning is essential for efficient power generation, which ultimately impacts the bottom line. Cleaning of solar modules is a big challenge for developers, especially in arid and dry zones where water is scarce, particularly water that is suitable for cleaning solar modules. Dust particles, bird droppings, and other particulate materials lead to a decrease in energy generation, highlighting the importance of solar module cleaning. While manual cleaning is one of the options, it proves to be inefficient – as cleaning is not consistent & it may cause hot spots, which will drastically impact the modules’ production rate. That to no manual cleaning can be done without water. It is better to employ automated / robotic cleaning solutions.
Kemsys, a well-known IoT device design house, has designed & developed IoT based Robotic Solar Panel Cleaning Solution with “Monitor from Any Where” capability for the first time. This field-proven solution estimates that, the ROI will increase by nearly 15-20% – as it eliminates water cost & man-power cost; and support higher electricity generation.
Vision-based Microsoft Azure Cloud controlled Mobile Robot
The heart of the whole solution is vision-based mobile robot, powered by 32-bit ARM cortex-M4 MCU. The robot comes with Stepper Motors (responsible for robot movement in X & Y directions), DC Motors (responsible for dry cleaning & wet cleaning), Intelligent Robot Motor Controller Unit & IoT Communication board. The robot controller board block diagram is shown below.
Robot sits on the solar tiles, and comes with camera attached, and roughly having 1 feet x 1 feet field of view. The robot, usually in the home position, navigates from top to bottom, and the cleaning cycle is as follows.
Iteration-1: Robot starts from Home position, navigates in Y direction, and scans all tiles, and stores the images internally along with X, Y coordinates. The robot completes the scanning of entire row of layout in two such cycles – as the tiles are usually 2 feet x 4 feet in dimensions (remember camera field of view is 1 feet x 1 feet) – and come back to home position.
Iteration-2: Robot starts from Home position, and completes the dry cleaning for the entire row, and comes back to Home position. For this, the robot uses non-abrasive micro fiber based brush material. Meanwhile, vision unit starts image processing & determines whether wet cleaning is required or not, if required – where (exact X, Y coordinates) exactly required.
Iteration-3: If wet cleaning is required, Robot starts from Home position, straight away goes to dirty areas (remember it knows X, Y coordinates where dirt & dust is accumulated), and perform wet cleaning cycle. For this, the robot is fitted with small 2L water cylinder.
Iteration-4: Robot scans the targeted areas again, and confirms that the area is fully cleaned, and free of dust & dirt.
Kemsys RDM for “Anywhere / Anytime” Monitoring of Solar Cleaning Robots
Kemsys team has IoTified all solar cleaning robots, and connected them to Microsoft Azure IoT Hub using C-SDK. Kemsys RDM software (Kemsys IP & Accelerator) played a big role in this digital transformation. The cloud application supports following features:
The mobile app offers following features:
- Live Position of Robot (X, Y coordinates from Home position)
- Live Battery Level
- Dashboard with number of dry cycles / wet cycles performed
- Control Panel to switch ON / OFF robot from remote locations
- Control Panel to navigate robot (on demand) in any direction (left, right, up, down, Home)
Most importantly, this IoTfication of Solar Cleaning Robots are paving way for Machine Learning models to steer 100% automation in this field.