JLG Industries is teaming up with RE2 Robotics, a developer of intelligent robotic mobile manipulation systems, to develop a robotic solar field construction system. RE2’s Sapien 6M robotic arm, Detect software and Intellect software will be integrated with a JLG aerial work platform to transfer, lift and place photovoltaic modules.
Using computer vision to autonomously retrieve solar panels from a delivery vehicle, the robotic-arm-outfitted aerial lift will precisely place the panels onto a racking system. An onsite worker will follow behind the machine to secure the panels. The companies say the robot will take the heavy lifting off of humans to improve safety and speed up solar field construction.
“While JLG has been leveraging and developing robotics in specific areas of our business for quite some time, our focus has shifted to developing and incorporating solutions that integrate with our lifts to help offset labor shortages and provide assistive technologies to a now 5-generation workforce,” says Frank Nerenhausen, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president, JLG Industries. "The relationship with RE2 allows us to partner with an organization who has the same drive for excellence as JLG, enabling us to accelerate the integration of robotics across our product line to move the access industry forward.”
JLG is supplying engineering support during the technology development phase of the project. Joint work is being completed on the mechanical and control system interface between the robotic arm and the lift. The project, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy, will use the integrated technology as a basis for future robotic solar field construction systems.
“The future of work is here,” says Jorgen Pedersen, RE2’s president and CEO. “Humans and robots are working more closely together, and the construction industry is no exception. Our developmental partnership with JLG will enable us to apply our proven robotic technology to specific applications, including those that require working at height and repetitive lifting such as solar field construction.”
“Developmental partnerships, acquisitions and organic product innovation serve as the three core pillars of our growth philosophy. When combined, they facilitate our ability to remain agile and accelerate the development of the future technologies that will advance the construction industry,” says Nerenhausen. “Our work with RE2 Robotics is an excellent example of how we are driving progress with companies who are experts and leaders in their respective fields.”
A concept machine is coming soon, with demonstrations planned to gather additional feedback.