They call the robotic panel installer Rover and they call the robotic panel cleaner Spot.
Here’s how Alion Energy CEO Mark Kingsley said the automated project construction and maintenance system will work: After the ground is prepared, a mixing truck and concrete slip extruder fill pre-designed molds to form a non-penetrating, ballasted foundation rack that eliminates metals, bolting, and clips.
Next, a human rolls a customized cart that lays cable in the channels in the concrete.
Then comes Rover, laying out the panels it carries. Construction adhesives affix the panels to the concrete racks, further eliminating bolting and the labor it necessitates.
After the project is wired and on-line, Spot takes over.
Powered by its solar-charged battery, Spot rolls along concrete tracks that keep its weight off the panels. Spot can be programmed for wet or dry cleaning at selected intervals and activated from a smart phone. It can also clip the ground cover between the concrete racks and manage the project’s drip irrigation system.
“Other companies have automated parts of project construction,” said Alion Marketing and Business VP Jesse Atkinson. “But they are trying to automate a system that was never designed to be automated.” Alion started from scratch and designed a process for large-scale solar that uses “continuous automated installation processes and existing construction materials and practices so that it is scalable and works anywhere in the world.”