Name: OnSight Technology
HQ location: Folsom, CA
Industry: Computer vision software & solar technology
Using robots to: Scan barcodes on solar panels, automate asset inspection, improve maintenance.
Long, hot days scanning barcodes
Whether you’re building a new solar farm or expanding an existing one, a crucial task is recording the barcodes and locations of individual panels. This data is critical for warranty management and monitoring the condition of solar assets over time.
But scanning and digitally recording solar barcodes is a difficult, time-consuming job. It often requires months of walking in hot, humid or wet conditions. Bright sun can reflect off the panels making it hard to get the right shot.
Due to the scale of the job and the number of people involved, there’s also human error and inconsistency to deal with. It requires a massive amount of coordination to manage shift handovers and avoid gaps in the data.
Enter the next generation of solar robots
OnSight has been working with DroneDeploy Robotics to develop a unique solution to this problem – using robotic rovers to scan barcodes without humans present on-site.
OnSight’s rover is equipped with rotating high-resolution PTZ and thermal cameras that lock onto the panels and capture images while moving. The barcodes are interpreted using computer vision and converted to digital readings.
This geolocated data is uploaded to DroneDeploy and visualized in a high-res map. Operators can easily see where assets are located, making it easier to plan maintenance missions. If there’s a product recall or warranty issue, they simply type the barcode numbers into the system to find out exactly where those panels are.
Once the barcodes are recorded, the robot can stay on-site for future inspections. It can easily be sent to photograph specific panels when warranty or maintenance issues come up. This saves employees from having to travel to remote sites often.
DroneDeploy also makes it easy to track the condition of all assets over time. This is particularly useful after major weather events, as before and after images can be used for insurance.
Low emissions, speed and 100% accuracy
To date, OnSight has used its rover to scan over 20,000 barcodes with 100% accuracy. It’s currently scanning roughly 30% faster than a human worker.
And the level of automation is continuously increasing. OnSight and DroneDeploy are optimistic they can increase the speed even further, potentially getting the robot to work up to 40-50% faster than traditional methods.
They also plan to achieve full robot autonomy in the next year using DroneDeploy’s mission planning. This means operators will not need to ‘drive’ the rovers remotely – the robots will navigate the solar farms completely independently.
But even now the value is clear. The robots are faster, more robust and collect more consistent, accurate data than has ever been possible with conventional scanning methods. This promises to be a game-changing technology for the solar industry.