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Frequent inspection of photovoltaic panels is essential for keeping them energy efficient as well as increasing the panels longevity by ensuring they have little to no issues so they can keep running for as long as possible. The current process for inspection is very time consuming since solar panel fields are very big and current inspections are done manually. A much more time efficient as well as cheaper alternative to this problem is inspection with robots. The main focus for this project is the use of a motorized vehicle with a thermal camera attached to it to be able detect hotspots and micro cracks as well as other abnormalities in the panels. A 6 degree of freedom arm with a windshield wiper attached to the end effector is used to clean the surface of the photovoltaic panels to ensure the debri causing hotspots if removed. The goal of this research is to reduce the amount of work from humans as much as possible. The advantages of robot inspection are that robots are available to reach more remote destinations and it drastically reduces labor costs and is more efficient compared to manual labor. In this research the tests were implemented at a small scale but only require minor adjustments to have direct transitions to real world application.
Photovoltaic; Solar; Computer Vision; Robot; Vehicle
Rodriguez, Diego and Oh, Paul Ph.D., "Photovoltaic Panel Inspection and Maintenance" (2021). Undergraduate Research Symposium Posters. 42.