Robot installs solar panels

By Niamh Marriott06 January 2023

USA-based Bailey Specialty Cranes and Aerials has launched Solar Trax 824, its solar panel installation robot, to market. 

The robot can lift panels 20 cm high and traverse 60 cm to handle most solar field designs The robot can lift panels 20 cm high and traverse 60 cm to handle most solar field designs (Photo: Bailey Specialty Cranes and Aerials)

Drawing from the company’s custom design lift equipment, Solar Trax is the result of a several year effort. The patent for the technology is still pending. 

The company has a history of developing assembly products such as aircraft assembly robots for Boeing, spacecraft clean-room machines for Northrop Grumman, and explosion-proof lifts used by the United States Air Force.

Lifting ability

The Solar Trax 824 can lift panels 20 cm high and traverse 60 cm to handle most solar field designs. The base machine is track driven, providing a high degree of traction.

Designed for rough terrains and increased slopes, the upper assembly will automatically level itself for increased stability and ease of panel placement, Bailey said.

All hydraulic functions include programmed motion which combines multiple steps. For example, this include a raise-left function, which raises the panels from the centre position, trolleys sideways to the support frame and lowers it in place.

Pallet management

Incorporating vision systems from the autonomous vehicle industry means users can precisely locate the solar panels onto the mounting structure, the company said.

It uses a pallet management vehicle (PMV) to retrieve the panels autonomously. It can be used with current worker-based installations to reduce worker fatigue and increase throughput, the company said. 

The PMV is tethered to the base machine. It lifts and tilts a pallet up to 1.4 tonnes and is self-propelled. The top of the PMV is a landing support for the tray where panels are easily loaded.

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