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Title: Let's Get In Formation: Autonomous Robots For Solar Energy Concentration
Authors: Petros, Fitsum
Serrano Cendejas, Jesus
Travnik, Madeline
Advisors: Nosenchuck, Daniel M
Department: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Certificate Program: Applications of Computing Program
Robotics & Intelligent Systems Program
Class Year: 2018
Abstract: As the world moves towards cleaner sources of energy, more facilities are using solar power to meet the growing need for electricity. However, this transition towards cleaner energy might be derailed in urban areas because of its high cost of installation, expensive maintenance needs, and issues stemming from limited access to usable space. As a result, in certain situations, it can be impractical or too expensive to harness solar energy due to the site of collection being difficult to access or receiving inconsistent and uneven sunlight. In response to this gap, this year-long thesis aims to develop a family of robots to meet this need for mobile and dynamic solar energy collectors. The system is composed of one central robot, known as the "Queen" and a number of smaller following robots, known as the "Workers." The Queen robot is designed to house a solar panel, while the Workers are designed to carry angle-adjustable mirrors. The Workers’ positions depend on user inputs via a Bluetooth connection. The Workers autonomously travel to the required location using a feedback system based on visual processing, using Pixycams. The system was programmed in the Arduino language. the current prototyping stage, the Workers operate in two modes. Workers have a formation mode, in which they travel to target static positions to aid the Queen in sunlight collection. Workers also have the following mode, in which they follow the Queen to transport the entire setup. Workers are accurate enough to land within 4 in of their original targets, and precise enough to perform with a standard deviation of 1:5 in. Workers are accurate enough to direct a laser with an angular error within 5o, and precise enough to perform with a standard deviation of 6o. Further development of the system involves communication between worker units, installation of solar collection technology, and further refinement of visual processing and control.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 1924-2019

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