Maryland Patent of the Month – June 2022

Solar farms are exactly what they sound like – expansive collections of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels that are positioned to farm energy from the sun. The energy is converted into electricity and offers a clean, renewable energy source. These large scale farms are currently limited by factors such as large start up costs and the cost of maintenance. If solar panels get dusty or covered in debris, they absorb less light and lose efficiency. 

BTPatent, LLC has developed a robot meant to help reduce maintenance and operation fees with the aim of making solar farms a more feasible solution in the future. The robots are programmed to conduct a range of tasks including:

  • Cleaning
  • Inspecting
  • Maintenance/repairs

The robots can take over the roles of inspection including the performance of electrical measurements, spot checking voltage and conductivity and so on. Mechanic robots are programmed to repair other robots as well as to repair the system including the rails the robots move along. Cleaning robots can keep solar panels spotless and free of debris. The inspector robots track which panels have been inspected as well as their status, calling mechanic or repair robots as needed. If a panel is deemed irreparable, the robot schedules a replacement panel to be brought out and installed. 

While the initial implementation of the robots may be included in the costly startup fees, their ongoing work creates a vastly more cost effective solution. The company’s testing has also shown there are fewer mistakes when maintenance is upkept by the robotic fleet as human error is removed. The automation of these processes could allow a farm to save money, reduce labor, and relegate much of the maintenance to nighttime so as to minimize downtime.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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