New system will use drones to clean hard-to-reach solar panels
Solar panels continuously accumulate dust, dirt and other debris, plus they're often located atop tall buildings or in remote areas – this means that they need to be cleaned, but doing so is difficult. That's why a drone-based setup is now being developed to do the job.
The "drone-in-a-box"-type system is being created via a collaboration between Israeli solar farm services company Solar Drone and Israeli drone manufacturer Airobotics.
It will incorporate a quadcopter which is housed inside a weatherproof docking station located near the solar panels in question. At regular intervals, two doors on top of the station will slide open, the drone will rise up out of it on a powered platform, and the aircraft will then take off and fly up to the panels.
Utilizing technology such as LiDAR sensors and mapping cameras, the drone will subsequently align itself above each panel, then spray it with cleaning fluid before moving on to the next one. Once the cleaning task is complete, the aircraft will land back on the docking station and be lowered into it. If necessary, a robotic system will then replace its battery with one that's freshly charged, and replace its cleaning fluid tank with one that's full.
According to Solar Drone, the system should be 25 percent less costly than utilizing other panel-cleaning techniques. And unlike at least one previously proposed drone-based setup, the aircraft won't actually touch the panels, so there's little chance of it damaging them.
There's presently no word on when the system may enter use. In the meantime, you can see a demo in the video below.