TerraSmart may have revolutionized solar site surveying at Solar Power International this year, introducing a fully autonomous robot, called the Autonomous Precision Survey Rover (APSR), that will handle survey stake-out functions (booth 2145).
“Our main goal is to increase the velocity and accuracy with which we survey. A typical survey crew can locate up to 200 points per day, but with ASPR we can do over 1,300 points a day,” says TerraSmart Systems Design Manager Chase Anderson. “We are excited to bring NASA space rover technology to the world of photovoltaic construction. It eliminates human error, saves time, and cuts project construction costs for our clients.”
A larger model than the one at SPI will be introduced in Q1 of 2017 that adds drilling capabilities to the autonomous survey technology. The company has plans to deploy three ASPRs on a 42 megawatt site located in Shoreham, NY in mid-October.
APSR features include:
– APSR is powered with a gas/electric hybrid drive system, allowing it to run 24/7 if required
– Designed for all-terrain use with “slope awareness” for undulating sites, APSR includes a geometric passive articulation suspension system, 24-inch tires and a 10-inch ground clearance
– APSR travels at a maximum speed of 11 mph with a maximum incline of 45 degrees
– Version two of APSR, coming in the first quarter of 2017, will be able to survey and drill holes with a two-inch diameter and a maximum depth of 20 feet within a half-inch tolerance
– APSR operates using line-of-sight wireless control, as well as Real Time Kinematics (RTK) GPS that increases its precision, accuracy, and speed
“Over the years, we have partnered with some of the most advanced survey equipment and software companies to design and deploy proprietary surveying tools that reduce installation time for solar ground mount systems. Today, with our U.S. exclusive launch of the ASPR, we continue to innovate with the use of RTK GPS technology and other proprietary software developed in-house,” says Ryan Reid, TerraSmart CEO.
How does it work?
Autonomous robots are programmed by skilled operators and APSR is no exception. The engineering team loads coordinate files onto an Android tablet, making them accessible to the APSR operator to create “missions” for each project site. APSR’s operator can prioritize work by site conditions and can even save and replay missions at any time. Once the operator provides the commands, APSR will survey each programmed location.
Safety comes first with APSR. A four-level safety system is built into the autonomous vehicle that can stop the rover in its tracks up to a half-mile away. The operator can also hit a kill switch on his belt; there is a power-down command on the companion Android tablet; and APSR shuts itself down if it tips over or if it travels outside of its operating area.
— Solar Builder magazine