Sarcos and Blattner team up to develop autonomous robotic solar construction system

Advanced robotic systems provider Sarcos and leading renewable energy installer Blattner Company signed a collaboration agreement to further develop and refine Sarcos' autonomous robotic solar construction system designed for solar module installation in utility-scale solar projects.

Currently, most solar construction practices involve a lot of time-consuming tasks such as pre-staging of palletized modules, manual installation and post-installation cleanup. However, Sarcos' robotic system can deliver, detect, lift and place solar modules in the field, helping to accelerate construction speed, improve installation quality as well as enhance worker safety and productivity. 

Sarcos Autonomous Robotic Solar Construction System
Image: Sarcos

Like many other sectors, the solar construction industry is also experiencing significant worker shortages post-COVID, which is slowing down the progress of many U.S. solar initiatives. Sarcos' autonomous robotic solar construction system "is expected to ease these workforce challenges while improving overall safety and speed in the solar installation process," explained Laura Peterson, Interim President and CEO of Sarcos.

In fact, Sarcos' robotic solution originated from the prototype developed for the Sarcos Outdoor Autonomous Manipulation of Photovoltaic Panels (O-AMPP) project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). The company completed the final validation of the project in March, and this collaboration with Blattner will center on further optimization of employee safety and installation efficiency, which will be conducted through a series of field trials in which Blattner will provide funding, expertise and testing facilities.

Testing through varying environmental conditions across different sites is also regarded as a crucial step in preparation for the commercial launch of the system in late 2024.

Many research data indicate that utility-scale solar projects are a vital contributor to the increment in solar capacity and the reduction of solar energy prices. Bringing robotics solutions to this field will bolster the role of utility-scale solar in the energy transition process, meanwhile, provide valuable data for evaluating the potential of automation and workforce evolution within other projects/segments in the industry.

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