Israeli drone manufacturer Airobotics has collaborated with Israeli solar farm services company Solar Drone to develop and supply to Solar Drone a unique solar panel cleaning drone system. The fully automated system will include a drone docking station for automatic battery replacement and cleaning fluid replenishment, enabling the system to operate continuously.
While solar power and solar panels are essentially maintenance-free systems, but solar panels do require cleaning from time to time to enable proper function. Dirt, dust, mud, and bird dropping greatly reduce solar panel efficiency, impacting power output. Frequent cleaning is expensive and time-consuming, especially when panels are remote, difficult to access, or difficult to clean.
A new “drone-in-a-box”-type system is now being developed to do this job. A quadrocopter is housed inside a weatherproof dock located near the solar panels. At regular intervals, the station doors on top will open, releasing the drone. The drone will then take off and fly up to the panels, using LiDAR sensors and mapping cameras for more accurate positioning. Each panel will be sprayed with a cleaning fluid, and after completing the task, the drone will return to the docking station. If necessary, the robotic system will replace the discharged battery with the charged one and replace its cleaning fluid container with a full one.
Antibiotics and Solar Drone aim to leverage their expertise in drones and solar energy systems to create and market a new drone-based cleaning solution, forecasting sales of $10 million in the first three years in Israel, Europe, India, and the UAE.
“Today’s solutions are unwieldy, uneconomical, and unable to cope with modern solar farms. We believe the entry of Airobotics’ drone technology into the market is a game-changer, with significant economic potential,” said Shmuel Yanai, Solar Drone Founder.