The robots, currently working on a project alongside Santa Rita jail are shifting solar panels to maximize the potential of capturing the sun's energy; sunbots are also engineered to construct, operate and maintain solar power facilities.
A significant development, considering solar power use more than doubled between 2010 and 2011, supplying 100 gigawatts of the world's capacity. Robotics offer the promise of increasing efficiency: one robot can supervise 1200 solar panels tracking a mere 1 degree shifts in the sun's position.
Robots add 20% efficiency to roof mounted solar panels, according to Matthew Muniz, Alamdeda County energy programme manager.
Developments in solar power certainly won't have any impact in preventing Ecuador from abandoning its conservation plans and begin drilling in the richly biodiverse and still pristine Yasuni National Park, but solar start ups like Richmond, California's Alion Energy are already developing a pilot solar plant propelled by robots in Saudi Arabia.
"The clever part comes in realizing that the sun moves slowly across the sky, taking 40 minutes to move 10 degrees," says Wasiq Bokhari, founder and CEO of QBotix. "For a flat photovoltaic plate, you can adjust it once every 45 minutes and keep maximum efficiency,"
Alion Energy plans to begin construction on its first commercial solar plant by the end of this year and is thinking ahead to the implications of building plants in the Middle East and China, where future sites for solar farms are in desert regions. Using robots to clean dust from the machinery could significantly increase energy yields while saving costs.
Some type of standardization of construction akin to that employed in the mass production of the automobile would be necessary to reap significant benefits to the world market.
Ecuador was unsuccessful in its bid to acquire sufficient funding from a 13-year UN sponsored effort to raise close to $4 billion towards the value of the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil field.