The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) selected RE2 Robotics, a developer of intelligent mobile robotic manipulation systems, for an award of $1.9 million in funding from to develop a robotic system for the Outdoor Autonomous Manipulation of Photovoltaic Panels (O-AMPP). RE2 already has mobile robotic arm tech, and here it would be used to support the transfer, manipulation, and placement of PV modules. We’re talkin’ autonomous robotic technology that uses computer vision and machine-learning techniques construct solar systems.
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“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 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. RE2’s program falls under the Innovations in Manufacturing – Hardware Incubator topic. These hardware and manufacturing innovations 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. “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 by automating processes that are currently done manually. 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. Award and cost-share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations.
— Solar Builder magazine