SERVO 07.2015 19
LET THE SUNSHINE IN
Ecoppia — a 2013 Israeli based startup — is providing a robotic solar panel
cleaning system to power companies with
solar farms in the desert. Ecoppia recently
installed and retrofitted five solar panel
sites totaling more than 35 MW. Their
systems are cleaning about five million dusty panels every month.
NITTY GRIT-Y CONTROL
As robots get smaller, cheaper, and more capable, it often makes
sense to rely on swarms of little bots
instead of one big one. As swarms
grow in size and complexity, intuitive
methods of real time control become
critical. Georgia Tech’s GRITS (Georgia
Robotics and Intelligent Systems) Lab
has developed a way to dynamically
control large swarms of robots using
just a tablet and a finger (or two).
While robots are typically pretty
good at determining efficient ways of
completing tasks, they’re not so great
at adapting to change and figuring out
which tasks need to be done —
especially if they need to change
priorities on-the-fly. This is where the
humans come in.
With Georgia Tech’s system, a
novice user can assign goals just by
poking at a tablet, and a swarm of
robots will coordinate with each other
to achieve those goals.
The scenario that this system was
designed for is the obligatory disaster
search-and-rescue mission, where you
have a large amount of rugged terrain
that needs to be covered optimally —
something robots are good at. They
have no trouble cooperating to search
Meanwhile, a human can identify
areas of interest, and set those areas
as goals for the robot swarm. Once a
new goal is assigned, the robots
redeploy themselves based on an
algorithm that guarantees optimal
coverage, without the human having to
get any more involved.
of Georgia Tech.