# Title Team Members TA Documents Sponsor
15 Automated Self-cleaning Solar Panel
Area Award: Solar Energy
Terry Green
Yann-Tyng Lin
Yousaf Abdul Salam
Our project is to design an automated solar panel cleaning mechanism that detects obstructions (bird droppings, leaves, etc.) on the panel and automatically cleans them away. Since solar panels are outdoors, they are prone to shading due to natural debris. For large solar installations in remote areas it could become difficult and/or expensive to monitor and clean hundreds of large solar panels. Because of the build-up of dirt on a cell in a solar module, hot spots are created and heat is produced instead of electrical power. This reduces efficiency and life-time of the solar panel. Our project would greatly reduce the amount of service calls for cleaning, resulting in lower operating costs in the long run. The project will be implemented using current and voltage sensing on individual solar cells in an array to provide performance feedback that determines if a cell has become shaded. Cloud shading will be taken in to account by programming and observing whether a whole group of solar cells have become shaded or just isolated cells. We will be adapting the car windshield cleaning mechanism for optimal cleaning (direction, speed, frequency). A soap/water mixture will be sprinkled during the cleaning cycle. Periodic cleaning will be programmed to occur in intervals based on the tradeoff between power consumption and cleaning effectiveness. For example, solar panels located in areas with high bird populations would require more frequent periodic cleaning. Our project will incorporate power electronics, microcontroller programming and control systems for motors.

Dynamic Legged Robot

Joseph Byrnes, Kanyon Edvall, Ahsan Qureshi

Featured Project

We plan to create a dynamic robot with one to two legs stabilized in one or two dimensions in order to demonstrate jumping and forward/backward walking. This project will demonstrate the feasibility of inexpensive walking robots and provide the starting point for a novel quadrupedal robot. We will write a hybrid position-force task space controller for each leg. We will use a modified version of the ODrive open source motor controller to control the torque of the joints. The joints will be driven with high torque off-the-shelf brushless DC motors. We will use high precision magnetic encoders such as the AS5048A to read the angles of each joint. The inverse dynamics calculations and system controller will run on a TI F28335 processor.

We feel that this project appropriately brings together knowledge from our previous coursework as well as our extracurricular, research, and professional experiences. It allows each one of us to apply our strengths to an exciting and novel project. We plan to use the legs, software, and simulation that we develop in this class to create a fully functional quadruped in the future and release our work so that others can build off of our project. This project will be very time intensive but we are very passionate about this project and confident that we are up for the challenge.

While dynamically stable quadrupeds exist— Boston Dynamics’ Spot mini, Unitree’s Laikago, Ghost Robotics’ Vision, etc— all of these robots use custom motors and/or proprietary control algorithms which are not conducive to the increase of legged robotics development. With a well documented affordable quadruped platform we believe more engineers will be motivated and able to contribute to development of legged robotics.

More specifics detailed here:

Project Videos