“Over the years, we have partnered with some of the most advanced survey equipment and software companies. Today, we continue to innovate with the use of GPS technology developed in-house."
TerraSmart more than triples survey speed and accuracy with the launch of its robotic rover, APSR, at Solar Power International (SPI) in Las Vegas.
Introducing the U.S. solar industry’s first fully autonomous robot to perform survey stake-out functions. The first model of the Autonomous Precision Survey Rover (APSR) will be presented today at SPI; a larger model that adds drilling capabilities to the autonomous survey technology will be introduced in Q1 of 2017. TerraSmart has plans to deploy three APSRs on a 42 megawatt site located in Shoreham, NY in mid-October. (Watch the APSR video >>)
“Our main goal is to increase the velocity and accuracy with which we survey. A typical survey crew can locate up to 200 points per day, but with APSR we can do over 1,300 points a day,” says TerraSmart Systems Design Manager Chase Anderson. “We are excited to bring NASA space rover technology to the world of photovoltaic construction. It eliminates human error, saves time, and cuts project construction costs for our clients.”
Other unique features include:
- APSR is powered with a gas/electric hybrid drive system, allowing it to run 24/7 if required
- Designed for all-terrain use with “slope awareness” for undulating sites, APSR includes a geometric passive articulation suspension system, 24-inch tires and a 10-inch ground clearance
- APSR travels at a maximum speed of 11 mph with a maximum incline of 45 degrees
- Version two of APSR, coming in the first quarter of 2017, will be able to survey and drill holes with a two-inch diameter and a maximum depth of 20 feet within a half-inch tolerance
- APSR operates using line-of-sight wireless control, as well as Real Time Kinematics (RTK) GPS that increases its precision, accuracy, and speed
Autonomous robots are programmed by skilled operators and APSR is no exception. The engineering team loads coordinate files onto an Android tablet, making them accessible to the APSR operator to create “missions” for each project site. APSR’s operator can prioritize work by site conditions and can even save and replay missions at any time. Once the operator provides the commands, APSR will survey each programmed location.
Safety comes first with APSR. A four-level safety system is built into the autonomous vehicle that can stop the rover in its tracks up to a half-mile away. The operator can also hit a kill switch on his belt; there is a power-down command on the companion Android tablet; and APSR shuts itself down if it tips over or if it travels outside of its operating area.