Solar energy producers are racing to figure out ways to make their systems more efficient in order to compete with both wind and existing fossil fuel plants. One way is to have the panels follow the sun as it traverses the sky. A new small robot from Qbotix travels the length of a solar panel collecting array adjusting the angle of the panels to capture the most sunlight.

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Until now, panels were either in a fixed position – usually facing south for us in the Northern Hemisphere – or used a automatic rotator that wasn't as accurate. Qbotix battery-powered, GPS-driven robot tender goes from panel to panel, checking on each one and making adjustments on two axises every 40 minutes.

Qbotix CEO Wasiq Bokhari told Greentech Media that the tough little robots are water and dust resistant and can handle large temperature ranges. The robot also has communications capability and regularly transmits data on each tracker.

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The company says it can collect an extra 8 to 15 percent energy this way, at a cheaper cost than existing motor-driven tilters. The pilot plant in Menlo Park, Calif., says it will be starting commercial deployment soon.

Via Greentech Media

Image: Qbotix