The Israeli company Airobotics will develop a drone that can be used to clean solar panels. The company does this on behalf of Solar Drone, a company that specializes in services to solar park operators. The fully automated system will include a drone docking station for automatic battery change and replenish cleaning fluid so that the drone can continue to work continuously.

Regular cleaning

According to those involved, cleaning solar panels will become a billion-dollar market in the coming decades. Dirt, dust, mud and bird droppings significantly reduce the efficiency of a solar panel and therefore have a negative impact on the maximum power a solar park can deliver. This means that solar panels need to be cleaned regularly, especially in dirt/dusty/bird-rich environments.

However, regular cleaning is expensive and time-consuming, especially when panels are remote, difficult to access or difficult to clean. Examples include floating solar parks (on water), roof panels and solar panels. Fields are also eligible that lie in a dusty to sandy environment and therefore need to be cleaned extra often.

Cleaning drone

Airobotics and Solar Drone will use their expertise in drones and solar energy systems to create and market a new drone-based cleaning solution. The companies expect to achieve a turnover of 10 million dollars in Israel, Europe, India and the UAE within three years.

According to the two companies, one drone can handle up to 500,000 panels per year cleaning, without the need for much maintenance. Airobotics already has a lot of experience in developing drone-in-a-box systems for industrial environments. So far, the automatic flying drones have only been used for inspections, but that is where cleaning work is now added.

The idea is that the drone is provided with a tank with cleaning fluid, including a high-pressure sprayer. The drone can also be used immediately to inspect the panels for defects. The system works autonomously and is remotely overseen by an operator. The system will be based on the Optimus drone box, which was introduced in 2016.

‘Significant economic potential’

According to Airobotics CEO Meir Kliner, it is a major expansion of business activities: “Thanks to our agreement with Solar Drone, Airobotics advanced technology can be used to monitor and monitor solar parks maintain. This is a new step in this billion-dollar market for us.”

Shmuel Yanai, founder of Solar Drone: “Today’s solutions are impractical, uneconomical and not suitable for modern solar parks. We believe that introducing Airobotics drone technology to the market is a game changer, with significant economic potential.”