Analysis of High-Efficiency Solar Cells in Mobile Robot Applications

[+] Author and Article Information
Francisco Calderón, Allan Lüders, James Teza

The Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

David Wettergreen

The Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213dsw@ri.cmu.edu

Andrés Guesalaga1

Department of Electrical Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 4860 Vicuna Mackenna, Santiago RM 306-22, Chileaguesala@ing.puc.cl


Corresponding author.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 129(3), 343-346 (Dec 14, 2006) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2735361 History: Received July 13, 2006; Revised December 14, 2006

This technical brief analyzes the performance of triple-junction solar cells on a mobile robot. Although originally designed for satellite use, it is demonstrated that triple-junction cells are effective in terrestrial applications. This makes them particularly suitable for systems with limited size and mass but high-power requirements such as a mobile robot. A testing station was specially constructed to characterize triple-junction and conventional silicon cell performance in different environments and to compare their effectiveness. Additional field tests were carried out with an autonomous robot in order to check the ability to deliver sufficient power to varying loads. Results show that they surpass conventional technologies with efficiencies higher than 22%, so they can be considered as an alternative technology for power sources onboard of terrestrial mobile robots.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Zoë robot during field operations in the Atacama desert, Chile

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Figure 2

I–V curves along the day for ATJ and silicon panels in horizontal positions: (*) maximum power conditions; (a) measured values; (b) temperature-compensated values to 28°C

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Figure 3

Sun tracking I–V curves for ATJ (left) and silicon (right); temperature compensation to 28°C

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Figure 4

Variations in conversion efficiency for temperature-corrected data to 28°C

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Figure 5

Performance falloff due to increasing incidence angles for the ATJ solar cells (temperature-correction to 28°C)

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Figure 6

Instantaneous solar array operation efficiency on Zoë




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