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Startup QBotix automates solar farms with robots

9/4/2012 04:57 PM EDT
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Douglas.Butler
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re: Startup QBotix automates solar farms with robots
Douglas.Butler   9/6/2012 7:53:37 PM
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How about turning the 2 DOF system into nearly 1 DOF by tilting the panels north-south with a spring steel or fiberglass cam from the east-west motion. You flex the cam a little as the season changes. Maybe a tweak every 10 or 20 days done during the human maintenance cleaning & inspection rounds. Get rid of those expensive robots and hire some unemployed kid.

GPBobby
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re: Startup QBotix automates solar farms with robots
GPBobby   9/6/2012 10:31:58 AM
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I'm sure I don't quite get this, but even assuming nothing would fail, it seems like the robot(s) could never get caught up on a large multi-panel array. By the time they adjusted the last panel it would be time to start over again, all the while none of the panels would be optimized.

kkersey
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re: Startup QBotix automates solar farms with robots
kkersey   9/5/2012 4:33:25 PM
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It's a creative and unusual idea - but that doesn't make it a good one! This smacks of the type of solutions you often see from Industrial Design students - looks good in a powerpoint, completely impractical in reality. So many potential points-of-failure means that the likelyhood of being unreliable is very high. Examples: 1. Battery will wear out quickly 2. Charging contacts will be unreliable 3. Rail is exposed to elements and flora / fauna - only takes one weed to jam-up the slider bearings. 4. Robot's actuator must engage / disengage reliably with hundreds if not thousands of panel worm-drives over years of time, including wear, dirt (and see #3). 5. Payback ROI is weak, even in their demo case. This is largely because not that much efficiency is gained with aiming flat panels (esp. adding a 2nd axis) - maybe they should try to go for CPV? That would be difficult given the extreme tracking precision required....Just thinking out loud. If I were a venture capitalist, I find something with more potential to invest in. Common QBotix - use your noggins to think of something better! How about a system where intead of a moving robot, there is a central hydraulic pump and that feeds pressure via an accumulator to all panels, each of which has 2 hydraulic cylinders and local control + solenoid valves to control aiming. This idea would be much more reliable, but it still seems that you're not saving much cost vs. just putting smaller individual control motors on each panel.

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