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Part Robot, Part Drone Automated Cleaning System Promises Spotless Solar Panels

It is no secret that grime, dust, and other debris on your solar panels make them less efficient, which translates into power loss. That is why cleaning them on a regular basis is essential to keep them working at full capacity. And this high-tech, automated system from ART Robotics is great at doing just that, deploying a drone and a robot to do the dirty work.
ART Robotics Helios system for automated solar panel cleaning 7 photos
Photo: ART Robotics
ART Robotics Helios System for Automated Solar Panel CleaningART Robotics Helios System for Automated Solar Panel CleaningART Robotics Helios System for Automated Solar Panel CleaningART Robotics Helios System for Automated Solar Panel CleaningART Robotics Helios System for Automated Solar Panel CleaningART Robotics Helios System for Automated Solar Panel Cleaning
Photovoltaic arrays are usually installed in high places, which is why climbing on the roof of your house armed with a sponge, soap, and water, is not exactly a safe or fun way to spend your day.

ART Robotics is based in Belgium and its field of expertise is right there in its name. Its Helios product is a system consisting of two components: a drone and a cleaning bot. While the former has the purpose of transporting the robot to the needed location, the latter will autonomously clean the solar panels.

The bot is lightweight, small, and comes with a clever traction system that allows it to easily move on the steep slopes from one panel to the other, thoroughly cleaning them using a brush and vacuum combination.

What ART Robotics is offering with its Helios is a solar panel cleaning service using the Helios system, with the company’s employees being the operators of the device. Customers order the drone/robot online.

So how does it all work? The cleaning robot is attached as the drone’s payload and the copter takes off in search of the solar array. It uses its computer vision to detect it and flies the bot to the exact location. Once it reaches it, it deploys the robot and then returns to the launch site, letting the bot do its thing.

After the solar panels are all clean and shiny, the bot signals the drone to come pick it up. It’s a fully automated process from start to finish, but an operator would be at the location just in case human intervention is needed.

The only bummer is that right now, the cleaning service is only offered in Belgium. ART Robotics is now seeking funding for Helios on Kickstarter and for a pledge of at least €120 (around $132), Belgium-based customers can benefit from the company’s Home Pack at a discounted price. What that includes is a cleaning of up to 20 solar panels with the Helios system, a service that ART Robotics estimates it will deliver in June 2023.

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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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