Built Robotics develops autonomous solar piling robot

Built Robotics develops autonomous solar piling robot

Listen to this article

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Built Roboticsa construction robot developer based in San Francisco, has announced the RPD 35, a fully autonomous solar piling robot.

Built’s system combines all steps of the piling process, from surveying to pile distribution, driving and inspection, in a package that reaches the tightest tolerances on the market. Solar piles are typically steel H beams 12-16 feet long and up to 200 lb. Piling is a complex activity, and most solar farms require tens of thousands of piles to be installed.

Each pile is driven into the ground up to eight feet deep and positioned to an accuracy of less than an inch. These piles form the structural foundation of solar arrays and are used in every utility-scale solar project.

Using the RPD 35, Built says a two-person crew can install more than 300 piles per day, all while meeting the slope tolerances expected from the market. This is achieved through Built’s software that works in conjunction with a custom pile cartridge system and advanced sensors such as RTK GPS.

“Solar piling is a tough, repetitive job, something that lends itself to automation,” said Noah Ready-Campbell, founder and CEO of Built Robotics. “Our piling robots will dramatically improve worker efficiency on job sites, which is critical in the chronically tight construction labor market. And just as importantly, they’ll get people out of harm’s way , reducing exposure to noise, strain, hit and pinch hazards.”

Since Built’s first deployment in 2018, the company’s robots have helped install more than 2 GW of solar capacity across the country, enough energy to power more than 400,000 homes.

Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation last week final validation completed of its Outdoor Autonomous Manipulation of Photovoltaic Panels (O-AMPP) project. The project aims to streamline the solar field construction process with a robotic system that can deliver, detect, lift and place photovoltaic modules in the field.

Earlier this year, Built acquired Roin Technologies, a three-year-old engineering company that designs and builds robotic concrete finishing systems. These include a shotcrete robot and a concrete trowling robot.

According to Ready-Campbell, the acquisition was essentially an acqui-hire that allowed Built to accelerate its current roadmap of automated construction equipment. Roin co-founder and CEO Jim Delaney has joined the Built engineering team along with other engineers from Roin.

The RPD 35 is the company’s second commercial system. The first system developed, the Exosystem, is a robotic retrofit kit for excavators. Once installed, the Exosystem turns almost any manually-operated excavator into an autonomous robot.

Built Robotics raised $64 million Series C round in April 2022. In 2020, Built won a RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award for the company’s IUOE partnership.