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Title:
ROBOTS TO CLEAN INCLINED SMOOTH SURFACES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/171400
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention provides cleaning robots to clean large smooth surfaces with inclination and elevation from the floor, more particularly robotic cleaning device to clean inclined solar panels. The robots of the present invention are able to move in any direction in a two-dimensional surface and can take curve. Further the heights of the cleaning brushes is adjustable. The system allows brushes to take variable height from ground, hence increasing and decreasing the brush impact. The robots can also expand and compress the length and thus the robotic system of the invention can take multiple length without any hardware modification. The robots can be used along with guide rails where in the rails will be able to hold the robot when inclination of the robot is larger, can be used along with a drone where the robot will be able to maneuverer with the drone and further system can be developed so that surfaces which are normally accessible manually can be cleaned.

Inventors:
PARTANI, Suraj (Room No. 2, Technology Business Incubator BITS Pilani Hyderabad Campus,,Jawahar Nagar, Shamirpet Mandal, Hyderabad 8, 500078, IN)
Application Number:
IN2019/050192
Publication Date:
September 12, 2019
Filing Date:
March 07, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PARTANI, Suraj (Room No. 2, Technology Business Incubator BITS Pilani Hyderabad Campus,,Jawahar Nagar, Shamirpet Mandal, Hyderabad 8, 500078, IN)
International Classes:
F24S40/20; B08B1/04
Foreign References:
US8771432B22014-07-08
US9801515B22017-10-31
EP3151984A22017-04-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HASAN, Afzal et al. (Hasan and Singh, Flat No. 04 Sree Nilayam Apartment,Plot No. 12, Camelot Layout , Kondapur, Hyderabad 4, 500084, IN)
Download PDF:
Claims:
I claim:

1. A robotic device for cleaning inclined surfaces, the device comprises:

(a) a frame body (F) made by reinforcing element selected from rod, pipe and flat sheet;

(b) cleaning element (B) comprising of two brushes (2, 3) driven by cleaning motors (4, 6);

(c) eight Moving elements (M) attached to the frame body (eight PODs, OCT APOD), driven by motors for movement of the device, each POD comprising of two motors (10A and 10B) attached with two wheels (11A and 11B) respectively; wherein, each motor (10A or 10B) of a POD is attached to and control one wheel (11A or 11B) independently through motor rotating shaft (14A or 14B) respectively, allowing independent movement of one wheel from another wheel; wherein, each motor (10A or 10B) can move forward or backward direction independently allowing wheels (11 A, 11B) movement accordingly, which allows movement of the POD device in forward direction, backward direction, clock-wise direction, anti-clockwise direction and also vertical and horizontal movement of the device, based on the movement of each of motors (10A) and (1 OB) in a POD; wherein, the device is capable to move and navigate in any direction and take any curve in a two-dimensional (2D) surface.

2. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the reinforcing element used is rod or pipe (1) made up of material selected from fiber galss and aluminium.

3. The device as claimed in claim 2, wherein the fiber glass material comprises Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics (FRP).

4. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the two brushes (2, 3) are soft Nylon Brush (2) and Microfiber Brush (3), wherein brush (2) cleans the bigger dust particle and the brush (3) which cleans the fine dust particle.

5. The device as claimed in claim 4, wherein the Nylon brush (2) is rotated at a speed of 100 rounds per minute (RPM) and the Microfiber brush (3) is rotated at a speed of 500 rounds per minute (RPM), wherein during the cleaning action, the surface is first cleaned with nylon brush (2), followed by microfiber Brush (3).

6. The device as claimed in claim 4, wherein the Nylon Brush (2) is rotated via nylon brush driving motors (4a, 4b) connected to rotate the brush (2) via two rotating shafts (5a, 5b) respectively, that rotate the brush (2), and the Microfiber Brush (3) is rotated via Microfiber brush driving motors (6a, 6b) connected to the brush (3) via two rotating shafts (7a, 7b) respectively, that rotate the brush (3).

7. The device as claimed in claim 4, wherein the brush driving Motors (4a, 4b, 6a, 6b) are attached with the frame at the four comer side of the frame (F) by the motor body itself or via four motor Holders (8a, 8b, 9a, 9b) respectively for brushes (2, 3).

8. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the device uses mechanism called OCTAPOD which means combination of eight POD (four PODs attached inside the frame (F) and four PODs attached outside the frame (F)).

9. The device as claimed in claim 8, wherein each POD comprises two Permanent Magnet Direct Current (PMDC) (10A, 10B) connected to wheels (11 A, 11B) respectively, connected to the motor via rotating motor shafts (14A, 14B) respectively that allows to rotate each wheel independently; both motors (10A, 10B) held by a bi-motor Holder (12); a bearing/ Axis of Rotation (13) placed in centre of motor holder (12).

10. The device as claimed in claim 8, wherein the POD is further manipulated via a potentiometer (15) fixed to the bi-motor holder (12), to give feedback of angle of POD with respect to the body of the device or a Servo Actuator fixed to the bi-motor holder (12).

11. The device as claimed in claim 8, wherein each POD is mounted with the frame body (F) via a POD holder (16) from bearing (13) at the top side of bearing and it is allowed to rotate around the bearing (13).

12. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the device further comprises arrangements for height adjustment of the two cleaning brush (2,3) from the surface, wherein the height adjustment can be automatic or manual operation.

13. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the device further comprises power source element selected from a battery and a solar power system, independently provided in the device.

14. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the device further comprises hardware and software including one or more sensor, network server, communication unit and one or more controller to enable the cleaning device semi-autonomous and fully autonomous navigation of the robot.

15. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the cleaning device can be used independently or in conjunction with other mounting support system.

16. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the cleaning device is used with an external structural supporting rail system (18) over which the robotic device of claim 1 is placed, which helps the robotic device from slipping on the inclined surface.

17. A robotic device (S28) for cleaning inclined surfaces, the device comprises:

(a) a complete frame assembly comprising :

a sub-assembly Sl having side frame (la) and middle frame (laa),

a sub-assembly S2 having side frame (lbb) and middle frame (lb),

each side and middle frame comprising two mounting points (28, 28) to engage two rods that connect and hold the each set of side frame with the middle frame forming sub-assemblies (Sl and S2);

(b) cleaning elements (cleaning brushes) provided in each of the sub-assemblies (Sl) and (S2), to clean the inclined surfaces of solar panels;

(c) moving elements comprising four wheels at each of the two sub-assemblies (Sl and S2), wherein each of S 1 and S2 comprises four Wheel Fixing Points (23, 24, 25, and 26), each point fixes a motor driven single wheel assembly, which is mounted with the frame assemblies (Sl, S2) enabling the navigation and movement of the device (S28); wherein,

wherein the two sub-assemblies (Sl, S2) are placed in inter connected way in an arrangement with the help of looking point (22 A) present at middle frame (laa) of S 1 and looking point (22B) present at middle frame (lb) of S2, that, sub-assemblies (Sl) and (S2) can slide to expand and compress, allowing variation in the length between the two middle frames (laa of Sl and lb of S2), which ultimately allows the device to increase and decrease the coverage of the area of surface to be cleaned; wherein the device can go to different size of solar panels by allowing width variation without any hardware modification, and

wherein the device allows to clean the solar panels in one go without going back and forth.

18. The device (S28) as claimed in claim 17, wherein the cleaning elements of the device comprises two Nylon brushes (2A, 2B) and two Microfiber Brushes (3A, 3B), wherein,

-sub-assembly Sl comprises a Nylon brush (2A) driven by Motor (4A), a Microfiber Brush (3 A) driven by Motor (6A), wherein Bearings (13 A, 2 numbers) holds the brush (2A and 3 A) with attachment to the frame member (laa) and other ends of brush (2A, 3A) are held by the motor shafts of motors (4A, 6A) at frame member (la) of Sl;

-sub-assembly S2 comprises a Nylon brush (2B) driven by Motor (4B), a Microfiber Brush (3B) driven by Motor (6B), wherein Bearings (13B, 2 numbers) holds the brush (2B and 3B) with attachment to the frame member (lb) and other ends of brush (2B, 3B) are held by the motor shafts of motors (4B, 6B) at frame member (lbb) of S2.

19. The device (S28) as claimed in claim 17, wherein the Middle Frames (laa, lb) and side frames (la, lbb) are made up of Aluminium.

20. The device (S28) as claimed in claim 19, wherein the thickness of side frame and middle frame is upto 7 mm thick.

21. The device as claimed in claim 17, wherein each of the middle frame members (laa and lb) comprises a clearance space (27) wherein brush (3 A) of S 1 pass via space (27) in frame (lb) of S2 and brush (2B) of S2 pass via space (27) in frame (laa) of Sl, which ultimately allow the expansion and compress features of S28.

22. The device as claimed in claim 17, wherein each of the frame member (la, laa, lb, lbb) are flat aluminium sheet which comprises multiple holes (29) at two locations at each frame where the two brushes are connected with respective frame members; by which the brush height of the four cleaning brushes (2A, 2B, 3A, 3B) at the two sub-assemblies (Sl, S2) is adjusted by any using a set of two holes in a single location to get the corresponding height of brush.

23. The device as claimed in claim 17, wherein the device further comprises power source element selected from a battery and a solar power system, independently provided in the device.

24. The device as claimed in claim 17, wherein the device further comprises hardware and software including one or more sensor, network server, communication unit and one or more controller to enable the cleaning device semi-autonomous and fully autonomous navigation of the robot.

25. The device as claimed in any of claim 1 and claim 17, wherein the device can be used along with a drone where the robot will be able to maneuverer with the drone.

Description:
ROBOTS TO CLEAN INCLINED SMOOTH SURFACES

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure relates to the field of robotics, particularly cleaning robots that clean large smooth surfaces with inclination and elevation from the floor. More specifically, the present invention relates to portable robots and/or robotic cleaning device to clean solar panels.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Traditionally, fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas have been used to supply energy needs. Though at present these recourses are abundant, there are flaws in using these sources of energy. They are non-renewable sources of energy, and may become extinct in near future. One of the major disadvantages of fossil fuel is that they produce carbon dioxide. The high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the key factor for global warming.

Global challenges of climate change and limited energy sources have made demands for alternative energy sources. Solar energy is a renewable free source of energy that is sustainable and inexhaustible. It is also non-polluting source of energy and it does not emit any greenhouse gases.

There are different types of solar energy collectors, for example one that converts solar energy into heat energy that can be used to complement the residual hot water supply. Another type of solar collector uses the photovoltaic (PV) components which directly converts solar energy into electric energy. Yet another type of solar collector uses reflecting surfaces to redirect the sun’s energy onto the surface of a boiler.

Surface of the solar panel is typically made of glass, the efficiency of which depends on the cleanliness of the glass surface. Over the time dust and other airborne particles can accumulate on the collector surface, blocking the light which can reduce the efficiency of a solar panel. Thus, the solar panels are required to be cleaned regularly.

EP2422889A1 relates to a motorized device for cleaning a series of aligned solar panels forming rows, which are tilted with respect to the horizontal and requiring no particular superstructure for its guidance along the row.

EP2695683 describes device that comprises a maintenance module suitable for performing the maintenance of the surface of a flat element, in particular of a solar panel. CN104937835A describes a system and method for cleaning a collector surface of a solar collector. The system includes a first liquid-dispensing unit configured to deliver a first spray of liquid to the collector surface. It also included brush element adjacent to the liquid dispensing unit.

Problems with the solar panel cleaning system in use presently are that they are mostly installed on the solar panel array and are not portable. Their installation also needs additional structures. Some of them are majorly restricted to flat surfaces like floors, they cannot clean inclined surfaces. All these solar panel cleaning devices cannot jump gaps frequently found between solar panel arrays.

Present disclosure overcomes the mentioned flaws of the prior art by providing a robotic device to clean solar panel with plurality of different types of brush members, with adjustable brush height, can take variable width of solar panel and thus can be used in different size of panels, which can clean inclined solar panel surfaces. The brushes are easily removable, which allows cleaning of the brush itself. The device can cross over the gaps present in the solar panels, possesses anti-theft features and can detect loose solar panels.

OBJECTIVE OF THE INVENTION

The primary object of the present disclosure is to design and provide portable robots to clean inclined smooth surfaces.

Another object of the present disclosure is to make a fully autonomous navigating portable robot comprising combination of eight moving elements such as PODs for cleaning inclined smooth surfaces.

Another object of the present disclosure is to make a semi-autonomous navigating portable robot comprising combination of eight moving elements such as PODs for cleaning inclined smooth surfaces.

Another object of the present disclosure is to make autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating robot for dry cleaning of the inclined smooth surfaces, the device provided with adjustable brush height which can be easily removed. Another object of the present disclosure is to make autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating portable robot for dry cleaning the device comprising multiple number of sub-assemblies allowing compression and expansion of such assemblies along the width, which can take variable width of solar panel and thus can be used in different size of panels.

Another object of the present disclosure is to make autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating portable robot for cleaning inclined smooth surfaces which can cross over the gaps over the surfaces of solar panels, without need of human support or any other external support.

Another object of the present disclosure is to make autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating robot for cleaning inclined smooth surfaces, the device having anti-theft feature.

Another object of the present disclosure is to make autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating robot for cleaning inclined smooth surfaces detection of loose solar panels by the robot.

Another object of the present disclosure is to make a portable autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating robot for cleaning inclined smooth surfaces which is light weight, easy to use and reduce the time needed for cleaning.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to portable robots and/or robotic cleaning device to clean solar panels. In one embodiment the portable semi-automatic or automatic cleaning device/robot comprises two or more of following elements:

frame body: forms a supporting structure, give shape and size of the device

cleaning elements: perform the cleaning function

moving system: enable movement/navigation of the device

control system: hardware and software including codes, algorithms, schemes, protocols, networking and other communication and information exchange system,

power system: provide/supply power to driving motors and other elements requiring power to run.

Referring figure- 1, the device is a portable semi-automatic or fully- automatic robot for cleaning inclined surfaces such as inclined solar panels, which comprises following components/elements :

Frame body (F);

Cleaning elements, such as Brush (B) driven by motors;

Moving and navigating elements (M) with wheels, driven by motors; Further, the device of figure- 1 comprises control system (C) which comprises one or more systems/applications for integration of hardware systems and software therefor (not shown in figure- 1). In one preferred embodiment, the device of figure- 1 is integrated with one or more of hardware components such as circuit, embedded circuit, controller unit, processing unit, networking unit, intelligent unit, storage unit (memory), Micro Controller Unit (MCU), A Global Positioning System (GPS), General Packet Radio Services (GPRS), Radio Frequency (RF), Integrated Circuit, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), feedback sensor such as potentiometer (POT), proximity sensor; and software components including coding, flow-charts, schemes, algorithms, protocols, Motor drivers to drive motors to make the device work independently and intelligently, without intervening of human being. It is also possible to control the device from a remote location via an appropriate remote controlling system/device which works in co ordination with the cleaning device. The remote controller can communicate with the robotic device via wireless communication via communication system of the device.

Further, the device of figure- 1 comprises power source (P) (not shown in figure- 1). The power source of the device may be from a solar panel system provided with the device itself or from a battery. The power source supply power to the MCU, Motors for the brush and wheels and other elements which require power to run. Figure- 12 outlines the above controlling system (C) including power source (P) of the device.

In one embodiment it is provided a robotic device for cleaning inclined surfaces, the device comprises:

(a) a frame body (F) made by reinforcing element selected from rod, pipe and flat sheet;

(b) cleaning element (B) comprising of two brushes (2, 3) driven by cleaning motors (4, 6);

(c) eight Moving elements (M) attached to the frame body (eight PODs, OCTAPOD), driven by motors for movement of the device, each POD comprising of two motors (10A and 10B) attached with two wheels (11A and 11B) respectively; wherein, each motor (10A or 10B) of a POD is attached to and control one wheel (11 A or 1 IB) independently through motor rotating shaft (14A or 14B) respectively, allowing independent movement of one wheel from another wheel; wherein, each motor (10A or 10B) can move forward or backward direction independently allowing wheels (11 A, 11B) movement accordingly, which allows movement of the whole device in forward direction, backward direction, clock-wise direction, anti-clockwise direction and also vertical and horizontal movement of the device, based on the movement of each of motors (10A) and (10B) in a POD; wherein, the device is capable to move and navigate in any direction and take any curve in a two-dimensional (2D) surface.

The reinforcing element used is rod or pipe (1) made up of material selected from fiber galss and aluminium. The fiber glass material comprises Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics (FRP).

The two brushes (2, 3) are soft Nylon Brush (2) and Microfiber Brush (3), wherein brush (2) cleans the bigger dust particle and the brush (3) which cleans the fine dust particle.

The Nylon brush (2) is rotated at a speed of 100 rounds per minute (RPM) and the Microfiber brush (3) is rotated at a speed of 500 rounds per minute (RPM), wherein during the cleaning action, the surface is first cleaned with nylon brush (2), followed by microfiber Brush (3).

The Nylon Brush (2) is rotated via nylon brush driving motors (4a, 4b) connected to rotate the brush (2) via two rotating shafts (5a, 5b) respectively, that rotate the brush (2), and the Microfiber Brush (3) is rotated via Microfiber brush driving motors (6a, 6b) connected to the brush (3) via two rotating shafts (7a, 7b) respectively, that rotate the brush (3).

The brush driving Motors (4a, 4b, 6a, 6b) are attached with the frame at the four corner side of the frame (F) by the motor body itself or via four motor Holders (8a, 8b, 9a, 9b) respectively for brushes (2, 3).

The device uses mechanism called OCT APOD which means combination of eight POD (four PODs attached inside the frame (F) and four PODs attached outside the frame (F)).

Each POD comprises two Permanent Magnet Direct Current (PMDC) (10A, 10B) connected to wheels (11 A, 11B) respectively, connected to the motor via rotating motor shafts (14A, 14B) respectively that allows to rotate each wheel independently; both motors (10A, 10B) held by a bi-motor Holder (12); a bearing/ Axis of Rotation (13) placed in centre of motor holder (12).

The POD is further manipulated via a potentiometer (15) fixed to the bi-motor holder (12), to give feedback of angle of POD with respect to the body of the device or a Servo Actuator fixed to the bi-motor holder (12). Each POD is mounted with the frame body (F) via a POD holder (16) from bearing (13) at the top side of bearing and it is allowed to rotate around the bearing (13).

The device further comprises arrangements for height adjustment of the two cleaning brush (2,3) from the surface, wherein the height adjustment can be automatic or manual operation.

The device further comprises power source element selected from a battery and a solar power system, independently provided in the device.

The device further comprises hardware and software including one or more sensor, network server, communication unit and one or more controller to enable the cleaning device semi- autonomous and fully autonomous navigation of the robot.

The cleaning device can be used independently or in conjunction with other mounting support system.

The cleaning device is used with an external structural supporting rail system (18) over which the robotic device is placed, which helps the robotic device from slipping on the inclined surface.

In above embodiment it is provided a robotic device (Y27) for cleaning inclined surfaces as shown in figures 1 to figure 5.

In one embodiment it is provided a robotic device (S28) for cleaning inclined surfaces, the device comprises:

(a) a complete frame assembly comprising :

a sub-assembly S l having side frame (la) and middle frame (laa),

a sub-assembly S2 having side frame (lbb) and middle frame (lb),

each side and middle frame comprising two mounting points (28, 28) to engage two rods that connect and hold the each set of side frame with the middle frame forming sub-assemblies (Sl and S2);

(b) cleaning elements (cleaning brushes) provided in each of the sub-assemblies (Sl) and (S2), to clean the inclined surfaces of solar panels;

(c) moving elements comprising four wheels at each of the two sub-assemblies (S l and S2), wherein each of S 1 and S2 comprises four Wheel Fixing Points (23, 24, 25, and 26), each point fixes a motor driven single wheel assembly, which is mounted with the frame assemblies (S l, S2) enabling the navigation and movement of the device (S28); wherein,

wherein the two sub-assemblies (Sl, S2) are placed in inter connected way in an arrangement with the help of looking point (22 A) present at middle frame (laa) of S 1 and looking point (22B) present at middle frame (lb) of S2, that, sub-assemblies (Sl) and (S2) can slide to expand and compress, allowing variation in the length between the two middle frames (laa of Sl and lb of S2), which ultimately allows the device to increase and decrease the coverage of the area of surface to be cleaned; wherein the device can go to different size of solar panels by allowing width variation without any hardware modification, and

wherein the device allows to clean the solar panels in one go without going back and forth.

The cleaning elements of the device comprises two Nylon brushes (2A, 2B) and two Microfiber Brushes (3A, 3B),

wherein,

-sub-assembly Sl comprises a Nylon brush (2A) driven by Motor (4A), a Microfiber Brush (3 A) driven by Motor (6A), wherein Bearings (13 A, 2 numbers) holds the brush (2A and 3 A) with attachment to the frame member (laa) and other ends of brush (2A, 3A) are held by the motor shafts of motors (4A, 6A) at frame member (la) of Sl;

-sub-assembly S2 comprises a Nylon brush (2B) driven by Motor (4B), a Microfiber Brush (3B) driven by Motor (6B), wherein Bearings (13B, 2 numbers) holds the brush (2B and 3B) with attachment to the frame member (lb) and other ends of brush (2B, 3B) are held by the motor shafts of motors (4B, 6B) at frame member (lbb) of S2.

The Middle Frames (laa, lb) and side frames (la, lbb) are made up of Aluminium. The thickness of side frame and middle frame is upto 7 mm thick.

Each of the middle frame members (laa and lb) comprises a clearance space (27) wherein brush (3A) of Sl pass via space (27) in frame (lb) of S2 and brush (2B) of S2 pass via space (27) in frame (laa) of Sl, which ultimately allow the expansion and compress features of S28.

Each of the frame member (la, laa, lb, lbb) are flat aluminium sheet which comprises multiple holes (29) at two locations at each frame where the two brushes are connected with respective frame members; by which the brush height of the four cleaning brushes (2A, 2B, 3A, 3B) at the two sub-assemblies (Sl, S2) is adjusted by any using a set of two holes in a single location to get the corresponding height of brush. The device further comprises power source element selected from a battery and a solar power system, independently provided in the device.

The device further comprises hardware and software including one or more sensor, network server, communication unit and one or more controller to enable the cleaning device semi- autonomous and fully autonomous navigation of the robot.

The device can be used along with a drone where the robot will be able to maneuverer with the drone.

Robotic devices as shown in figures 1-12 and as described with reference to figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCOMPANYING DRAWINGS

The following drawings form part of the present specification and are included to further illustrate aspects of the present disclosure. The disclosure may be better understood by reference to the drawings in combination with the detailed description of the specific embodiments presented herein.

Figure- 1: Overview of one representative cleaning robot of the present invention showing different structural elements.

Figure-2: Shows downside view of POD attached with the frame body.

Figure-3: Shows mounting of a POD to the frame body of the robotic device.

Figure 4: Shows a view (3D) of the proposed robot design (Y27) of the present invention. Figure-5: Shows cleaning robot Y27 on supporting rails.

Figure-6: An extended design variant cleaning robot (S28) of the present invention.

6A: Shows robotic device (S28) in expanded mode comprising S l and S2.

6B: Shows robotic device (S28) in compressed mode comprising S l and S2.

Figure 7: Shows the 3D view of Sub assembly S2 of S28 as shown in Figure-6A.

Figure-8A: A 3D view of Sub-Assembly Sl of device S28 with supporting member

Figure-8B: A 3D view of Sub-Assembly S2 of device S28 with supporting member

Figure 9: Shows the detailed view of middle frame and side frame of sub-assemblies S l and S2. Figure 10: Shows a wheel assembly for S28.

Figure 11A: A plain view of the cleaning robot S28 comprising the two sub-assemblies S l and S2 showing width adjustment feature and supporting member

Figure 11B: Shows cleaning robot S28 of Fig. 11 A placed over an inclined solar panel surface. Figure 12: Control System of the Device

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION The present disclosure provides robots to clean inclined smooth surfaces. Particularly, the invention provides portable cleaning robots to clean solar panels.

Those skilled in the art will be aware that the present disclosure is subject to variations and modifications other than those specifically described. It is to be understood that the present disclosure includes all such variations and modifications. The disclosure also includes all such assemblies, models and prototypes indicated in this specification, individually or collectively, and any and all combinations of any or more of such features.

Definitions:

For convenience, before further description of the present disclosure, certain terms employed in the specification, and drawings are collected here. These definitions should be read in the light of the remainder of the disclosure and understood as by a person of skill in the art. The terms used herein have the meanings recognized and known to those of skill in the art, however, for convenience and completeness, particular terms and their meanings are set forth below.

The articles“a”,“an” and“the” are used to refer to one or to more than one (i.e., to at least one) of the grammatical object of the article.

The terms“comprise” and“comprising” are used in the inclusive, open sense, meaning that additional elements may be included. It is not intended to be construed as“consists of only”.

Throughout this specification, unless the context requires otherwise the word“comprise”, and variations such as“comprises” and“comprising”, will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated element or step or group of element or steps but not the exclusion of any other element or step or group of element or steps.

The term“including” is used to mean“including but not limited to”.“Including” and“including but not limited to” are used interchangeably.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. Although any assembly, model or prototype similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the disclosure, the preferred assembly, model and prototype are now described.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robotic device for cleaning of inclined smooth surfaces, in particular solar panel. The device is used for dry cleaning of solar panels. In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a fully autonomous navigating portable robot comprising combination of eight moving elements such as PODs for cleaning inclined smooth surfaces.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a semi-autonomous navigating portable robot comprising combination of eight moving elements such as PODs for cleaning inclined smooth surfaces.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided autonomous/semi- autonomous navigating portable robot for dry cleaning of the inclined smooth surfaces provided with adjustable brush height which can be easily removed.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating portable robot for dry cleaning of the inclined smooth surfaces, the device comprising multiple number of sub-assemblies allowing compression and expansion of such assemblies along the width, which can take variable width of solar panel and thus can be used in different size of panels.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating portable robot for dry cleaning of the inclined smooth surfaces wherein special arrangement of wheels in the device allows it to cross over the gaps over the surfaces of solar panels, without need of human support or any other external support.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating portable robot for dry cleaning of the inclined smooth surfaces, the device having anti-theft feature.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating portable robot for dry cleaning of the inclined smooth surfaces, the device having features of detection of loose solar panels by the robot.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating portable robot for dry cleaning of the inclined smooth surfaces which is light weight, easy to use and reduce the time needed for cleaning.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided autonomous/semi-autonomous navigating portable robot for dry cleaning of the inclined smooth surfaces, wherein the device can be used in an inclination of the panel surface up to 60° or more from the ground surface. In an embodiment of the present disclosure, one of the device of the present invention can be used in an inclination of the panel surface up to 15° from the ground surface.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, one of the device of the present invention can be used in an inclination up to 45° from the ground surface.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot for cleaning inclined surfaces, wherein said robot comprises: (a) dual motion technology; (b) a cleaning attachment; and (c) a light weight body, wherein the dual motion technology helps in the movement of robot in horizontal as well as vertical directions.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot for cleaning inclined surfaces, wherein the said POD comprises two Permanent Magnet Direct Current (PMDC) motors.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot for cleaning inclined surfaces, wherein said POD is a combination of a potentiometer and two PMDC motors.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot for cleaning inclined surfaces, which allow the wheels to rotate perpendicular to the axis of rotation.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot for cleaning inclined surfaces, wherein wheels of the said robot can be moved anywhere in two dimensions.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot for cleaning inclined surfaces, wherein said robot comprises multiple cleaning attachments, each comprising of cleaning motor and cleaning brush mounted on a motor shaft from both end or by any one end.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot for cleaning inclined surfaces, wherein said robot can move both vertically and horizontally due to incorporation of OCTAPOD mechanism of the present invention.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided solar robot having frame members made of materials selected from fiber glass rod and aluminium. Any other similar materials can also be used.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable solar robot as described herein, wherein said robot comprises cleaning brush made of nylon. In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable solar robot as described herein, wherein said robot comprises cleaning brush made of microfiber.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable solar robot as described herein, wherein said robot comprises multiple cleaning brushes and combination of nylon and microfiber.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable solar robot as described herein, wherein said robot comprises combination of two cleaning brushes, each brush made of nylon or microfiber, or one brush is made of nylon and another is made of microfiber.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable solar robot as described herein, wherein the solar robot comprises cleaning brushes driven by motors and the height of the cleaning brush can be varied using linear actuators/Lead screws. The driving motor of the brushes can be a PMDC motor or brushless motor or a stepper motor. In one preferred embodiment a PMDC motor is used.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable solar robot as described herein, wherein the solar robot comprises cleaning brushes driven by PMDC motors and the height of the cleaning brush can be varied with the help of height adjustment holes present in the frame body of the robot wherein the brushes can be attached with desired height requirement.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided an autonomous navigating robot for cleaning inclined surfaces, wherein said robot can cross over a gap, while cleaning.

In an embodiment said robot body is made up of fibers like glass fiber rod/pipe, plastics like polypropylene and acrylic.

In an embodiment said robot body is made up of aluminium sheet and/or rod.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot as described herein, wherein said robot is cost effective.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot as described herein, wherein said robot has one or more proximity sensors installed to detect edges of the solar panels. These can be installed at the front side of the device.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot as described herein, wherein said robot has a micro controller unit (MCU) which takes input signals from various sensors such as Proximity Sensor, Global Positioning System (GPS), Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), Radio Frequency (RF) receiver, Feedback potentiometer (POT) from each POD; and provide output signals to Motor Drivers of various motors. The MCU directs various sensor and motors accordingly.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot as described herein, wherein said robot has power source such as a battery or a solar panel installed on the robot which helps it to generate its own power.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot as described herein, wherein said robot has a battery which stores the charge and serve as power buffer.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a portable robot as described herein, wherein said robot has solar charge controller installed between battery and solar panel responsible for charging and discharging of battery via solar panel of the device.

Although the subject matter has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments thereof, other embodiments are possible.

The present disclosure provides robots to clean large inclined smooth surfaces. Particularly, autonomous and semi-autonomous cleaning robots to clean solar panels.

DESCRIPTION WITH RESPECT TO DRAWINGS AND FIGURES:

The present invention provides portable robotic cleaning device to clean inclined surfaces such as inclined solar panel surfaces. The device can be fully autonomous or semi-autonomous.

In the fully autonomous mode, the device can operate by its own intelligence. Once the device is switched on or in active mode and placed at the surface to be cleaned, all the functions and navigations intended to be performed by the robot are performed automatically by the robot.

In the semi-autonomous mode, the device is operated partly by autonomous mode and partly by direct or in-direct human operator involvement. Any of the above device can be controlled via a remote controller from a remote position. The remote controller comprises various buttons and keys specified with specific function commands.

Figure-1 shows and represents a general overview of the robotic device of the present invention showing different elements.

The device as shown in figure- 1 may be semi-automatic or fully automatic. With the integration and/or assembly of necessary hardware and software applications along with the various device elements as shown in figure- 1, the device of the present application works independently. In one preferred embodiment of the present invention the device is integrated and assembled with such one or more necessary hardware and software applications and system to make the device a fully automatic robot.

The device comprises different elements, each element proposed to serve a desired function either independently or together with one or more other elements with respect to the device/system. In one embodiment the multiple elements work together in a correlation to each other with respect to the whole device in order to provide a semi-automatic or fully autonomous navigating cleaning device/robot.

The disclosure will now be illustrated with referring representative drawings, models and/or prototype of the cleaning robot/device and its other assembly structures and arrangements working models, which is intended to illustrate the working of disclosure and not intended to take restrictively to imply any limitations on the scope of the present disclosure. Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. Although design, assembly and prototype similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice of the disclosed cleaning robot/device and assembly, the representative prototype, robot, devices and are described and illustrated herein. It is to be understood that this disclosure is not limited to particular design, assembly or prototype described, as such design and assembly may vary.

In one embodiment the portable semi-automatic or automatic cleaning device/robot comprises two or more of following elements:

frame body: forms a supporting structure, give shape and size of the device

cleaning elements: perform the cleaning function

moving system: enable movement/navigation of the device

control system: hardware and software including codes, algorithms, schemes, protocols, networking and other communication and information exchange system,

power system: provide/supply power to driving motors and other elements requiring power to run.

Referring figure- 1, the device is a portable semi-automatic or fully- automatic robot for cleaning inclined surfaces such as inclined solar panels, which comprises following components/elements :

Frame body (F);

Cleaning elements, such as Brush (B) driven by motors;

Moving and navigating elements (M) with wheels, driven by motors;

Further, the device of figure- 1 comprises control system (C) which comprises one or more systems/applications for integration of hardware systems and software therefor (not shown in figure- 1). In one preferred embodiment, the device of figure- 1 is integrated with one or more of hardware components such as circuit, embedded circuit, controller unit, processing unit, networking unit, intelligent unit, storage unit (memory), Micro Controller Unit (MCU), A Global Positioning System (GPS), General Packet Radio Services (GPRS), Radio Frequency (RF) Receiver, Integrated Circuit, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), feedback sensor such as potentiometer (POT), proximity sensor; and software components including coding, flow-charts, schemes, algorithms, protocols, drivers to drive motors to make the device work independently and intelligently, without intervening of human being. It is also possible to control the device from a remote location via an appropriate remote controlling system/device which works in co ordination with the cleaning device. The remote controller can communicate with the robotic device via wireless communication via communication system of the device.

Further, the device of figure- 1 comprises power source (P) (not shown in figure- 1). The power source of the device may be from a solar panel system provided with the device itself or from a battery. The power source supply power to the MCU, Motors for the brush and wheels and other elements which require power to run.

Figure- 12 outlines the above controlling system (C) including power source (P) of the device.

Frame Body (F)

Now referring figure- 1, the frame body (F) provide support and give a structure to the device. The shape and size of the frame and thereby the device is not restricted to as shown in figure- 1, but it the shape and size should be such that, the device/robot can serve its desired cleaning functions, movement and other features proposed/intended to be served by the device. The selection of shape and size is based on the actual circumstances at the practical application of the device such as the area, surface characteristics, inclination of the surface, gaps in the surface etc. Thus varied and differently shaped and sized device frame can be formed. The frame body is made by plurality of reinforcing elements such as rods or pipes or similar reinforcing elements, combination of which provides a structure to the device and holds other elements. The frame as shown in figure- 1 is rectangular shape.

Further multiple frames such as assemblies can be used wherein combination of assemblies forms the complete framing of the device. Such frame structure with combination of assemblies allows width adjustment which allows the device to take and clean solar panels with different and variable size.

The above said reinforcing elements are made up of material such selected from fibre glass and aluminium. In one embodiment, the reinforcing element selected is fiber glass rod/pipe or sheets.

In another preferred embodiment, the reinforcing element selected is aluminium rod/pipe or sheet.

In another embodiment, the reinforcing element selected is combination of fiber glass rod and aluminium rod/pipe.

In another embodiment, the reinforcing element selected is combination of fiber glass rod and aluminium sheet.

Further in the case of aluminium material, the shape is not restricted to rod/pipe shape, but the shape can be a plane aluminium sheet material having means for attachments of other elements of the device. In one embodiment the sides of the frame (F) comprises two plane aluminium sheets material having means for attachments of other elements of the device and these two side plane sheets are attached with the other fiber or aluminium rod, forming the complete frame structure of the device.

The material Fibre Glass Rod comprises Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics (FRP). FRP has high tensile strength when compared to its weight. The outer diameter of rod/pipe used is 16 mm, inner diameter is 12 mm. It is better by high strength to weight ratio when compared to conventional materials. The Tensile Strength of FRP is 1950 to 2050 Mega Pascal (MPa).

As shown in Figure- 1, the frame (F) is made up of plurality of rod/pipe (1), which are joined together to form the rectangular shape of the device/robot. The length and width of each rod/pipe is chosen based on the desire size of the device to be made.

The frame (F) holds and support other components of the device such as cleaning elements such as Brush elements (B), Moving elements (M) with wheels, Power source (P) and may also holds one or more hardware components of the control system (C) as mentioned above and further in below paragraphs.

Cleaning Brush Elements (B)

The brush elements (B), as shown in figure- 1 serves the function of cleaning surfaces of desired structures or elements such as inclined solar panel surfaces. The cleaning brush elements (B) mainly comprises two types of brush materials viz. soft Nylon brush (2) and Microfiber brush (3). The Nylon Brush (2) cleans the bigger dust particle. The Microfiber Brush (3) cleans the fine dust particle. The Nylon Brush (2) is rotated via two nylon brush driving motors (4a, 4b) connected to rotate the brush (2) via two rotating shafts (5a, 5b) respectively, that rotate the brush (2). The driving motors (4a, 4b) rotate at a same speed for brush (2).

Similarly, the Microfiber Brush (3) is rotated via Microfiber brush driving motors (6a, 6b) connected to the brush (3) via two rotating shafts (7a, 7b) respectively, that rotate the brush (3). The driving motors (6a, 6b) rotate at a same speed for brush (3).

In both the brushes (2, 3), the respective four brush driving Motors (4a, 4b, 6a, 6b) are attached with the frame at the four corner side of the frame (F) or just exterior to each corner side via four brush driving motor Holders (8a, 8b, 9a, 9b) respectively. These brush driving motor holders also serve to hold the brush.

The shape of the two brush is like a long roller type, having length near to the length of the device such that one brush (2) can be fixed between the driving motors (4a-4b) and another brush (3) can be fixed between driving motors (6a-6b) and there these brushes (2, 3) can be rotated along its axis which is formed by the motor rotating shafts (5a-5b) for brush (2) and shafts (7a- 7b) for brush (3). The brushing material over the brush (2) and (3) can be continuous or combination plurality of small brushes.

The Nylon brush (2) is rotated at a speed of 100 rounds per minute (RPM). The Microfiber brush (3) is rotated at a speed of 500 rounds per minute (RPM). During the cleaning action, the surface is cleaned with nylon brush (2) first followed by microfiber Brush (3). The driving motors (4a, 4b) rotate at a same speed for brush (2). The driving motors (6a, 6b) rotate at a same speed for brush (3). The rotating speed of the brushes can be increased or decreased as per cleaning requirement.

The height adjustment of brush is needed due to variety of reasons. In one particular situation, when the brush after acting for longer period of time, the outer part of the brush get damaged or sometimes pressed inward which ultimately results in loose contact of the brush over the cleaning surface, by which the desired level of cleaning is not achieved. Sometimes based on the solar panel design and shape, the height of the brush requires to adjust.

In one embodiment the height of the brush (2, 3) from the surface to be cleaned is adjustable. The height adjustment can be manual or automatic. The height adjustment is achieved by providing plurality of fixing points/holes at the lateral side of the frame (F) where the two ends of each brush are attached to the side frames. Holes are arranged vertically in spaced apart form (later shown in figure), wherein the cleaning brush motors holders (8a, 8b, 9a, 9b) are attached with the frame (F). The fixing points/holes are generally present in the lateral side of the frame. In this case the two side frames are flat frame sheets having holes for adjustable fitting of motor holders. The two flat side frame are further attached with other rods/pipes (1) to forms the complete frame (F). Thus by changing the motors holders (8a, 8b, 9a, 9b) fixing points at the lateral frame side, the height of the brush (2, 3) are changed to increase or decrease height.

In one embodiment the brush height is adjusted manually. In manual adjustment, this is done by simply shifting the cleaning motors holders attachment to a desired hole/fixing point which ultimately change the height of the brush and thus change the contact of the brush outer surface above to outer surface of the cleaning panel surface.

When the device of the present invention is fully automatic and autonomous navigating variant and there if the device comprises brush height adjusting feature, then the height adjustment can also be automatic based on machine intelligence. In the fully automatic and autonomous navigating variant also, the height can also be adjusted manually at the time of placing the device over the panel surface.

In another embodiment the height is adjusted automatically. This is achieved by machine sensor attached with the intelligent device of the present invention. The one or more sensing element (sensor) sense the height of the brush from the cleaning surface and at what pressure the brush (2, 3) are resting over the cleaning surface. With the help of one or more sensor, the controller manage and adjust the heights by shifting the attachment heights of the cleaning brush motors holders (8a, 8b, 9a, 9b) with the two lateral sides of frame (F) either by increasing or decreasing the fixing heights of the holders (8a, 8b, 9a, 9b) which are based on the commands of one of the controller of the device to increase or decrease the heights as per requirement at that time.

Moving and/or navigating elements (M)

Further the device as shown in figure- 1 comprises plurality of Moving and/or navigating elements which are termed as POD, each POD with plurality of wheels, and each wheel is driven by motor.

The robotic device of present invention uses mechanism called OCTAPOD which means combination of eight PODs. The machine on which it is implemented is called as Y27.

In one embodiment the device comprises eight numbers of POD (labelled as M in Figure- 1). Four PODs are attached inside the frame (F) and four PODs are attached outside the frame (F).

The moving elements (PODs) are arranged such that, it allows the device of the invention to move and navigate in any direction in two-dimensional surface plane. Such an arrangement of two motors which are allowed to operate independently can create multiple type of motions. Like when both the wheel are turned forward, the whole system goes forwards. Likewise if one of them is turned back and other is turned forward, this will allow the system to move in clockwise or counter clockwise direction.

In another embodiment when the device comprises two assemblies and two or more supporting members that that attach and hold the device above the solar panel, in that case the device does not use POD as moving system. In such case the moving system comprises a wheel system comprising a single motor with a single wheel as shown in figure- 10.

Power System (P)

The robotic device of the invention comprises system for power supply to the device to run the PMDC motors and motors of the brushes, to the MCU and also to other elements which require power to run. The device supply power to POD, wherein the motors are run. The power system of the device comprises a solar panel or a battery or combination of both. A solar panel is installed on the robot which helps it to generate its own power and store in the battery.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a robot as described herein, wherein said robot has a battery which stores the charge and serve as power buffer.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, there is provided a robot as described herein, wherein said robot has solar charge controller installed between battery and solar panel responsible for charging and discharging of battery.

Figure-2 shows and illustrate the structural view of a POD (M), which is attached with the frame (F). This figure of POD is a downside view of POD attached with the frame body.

A POD is a basic unit which contains two Permanent Magnet Direct Current (PMDC) motors, attached with two wheels. A POD in the present invention means that an arrangement of two motors and with two wheels as shown in figures 2 and 3.

The POD consist of two PMDC motors (10A, 10B) with wheels (11A, 11B), a bi-motor Holder (12) and a bearing/ Axis of Rotation (13) placed in centre of motor holder (12). The two wheels (11A, 11B) of a POD are connected with the two PMDC motors (10A, 10B) through two motor shafts (14A, 14B) respectively and rotates each wheel independently.

A potentiometer (15) is fixed to the bi-motor holder (12) to give feedback of angle of POD with respect to the body of the device/system. The Potentiometer (15) gives a feedback on degrees of rotation. The feedback from the potentiometer (15) is used to drive the motors (10A, 10B) accordingly. The Potentiometer (15) works in co-ordination with the MCU and the device POD angle. Instead a Potentiometer, a Servo Actuator can also be placed.

When both the Motor A (10A) and Motor B (10B) moves forward the POD system moves to forward direction.

When Both the Motor A (10A) and Motor B (10B) moves backward the POD system moves backward direction.

When Motor A (10A) moves forward and Motor B (10B) moves backward the POD system turns clockwise direction.

When Motor A (10A) moves backward and Motor B (10B) moves forward the POD system turns anti-clockwise direction.

The figure 3 shows how a POD is mounted to the frame body (F) of the robotic device. This view of POD is from the upper side or top side of the POD, from which top side, the POD is attached with the frame body (F).

Similarly as shown in the figure 2, the POD shown in figure 3 also consist of two PMDC motors (10A, 10B) with wheels (11A, 11B), a bi-motor Holder (12) and a bearing (13) placed in centre of motor holder (12). The two wheels (11A, 11B) of a POD are connected with the two PMDC motors (10A, 10B) through two motor shafts (14A, 14B) respectively (not shown) and rotates each wheel independently.

In the centre of the POD there is a bearing (13). The POD is mounted with the frame body (F) via POD holder (16) from bearing (13) at the top side of bearing and it is allowed to rotate around the bearing (13). The holder (16) comprises attachment means such as one or more screw holes through which the holder (16) is attached to the frame body (F) via one or more screws. The POD has a feedback Potentiometer (15) placed in the down side of the POD as shown in figure 2 above.

The practical application of the POD can be visualized by placing three PODs in a triangular form. Lets suppose a vehicle has triangular shape like a tri rick shaw, and instead of each wheel we attach a POD, such as system when device will allow the triangular rickshaw to move in any direction of 2-D plane and take any possible curve including circle on its own axis, moving in arc, moving in straight-line at any angle. The radius of turning for such a system will be zero.

Figure 4 shows the top 3D view of the proposed robot design (Y27) of the present invention as shown in Figure 1. The present invention uses above shown POD (figures 2-3) at eight locations as shown in Figure 1 and Figure 4 (Figure 4 can be read with the same labelling as provided for Figure 1). The robotic device of present invention uses mechanism called OCTAPOD which means combination of eight PODs (M1-M8). The machine on which it is implemented is called as Y27.

Referring figure-4, the cleaning robot (Y27) comprises a frame body (F) made up of Fibre Glass Rod/ Aluminium Rod (1), nylon brush (2), Nylon Brush driving cleaning motors (4a, 4b), Microfibre brush (3), Microfibre brush driving motors (6a, 6b); wherein respective cleaning brush driving motor also serve as holder of the respective nylon brush (2) and microfiber brush (3). It is possible to attach four separate holders at each corner side, where each holder holds both the brush and motor. It is also possible to attach separate brush holder attached to frame (F) and separate motor holder attached to frame (F).

At the inner side of the frame (F), the device comprises four inner PODs (M1-M4) and at the outer side of the frame it comprises four outer PODs (M5-M8), each of which are connected to the frame at above said and shown (figure 1, 4) locations/points of frame (F) via a POD Connecting Member. Thus eight PODs (M1-M8) are connected to the frame (F) via eight POD Connecting members (C1-C8) respectively. It is to be understood that, PODs (M1-M8) in device of Figure-4 are connected to the frame via eight such connecting members (C1-C8).

The robot has two kind of brushes: Nylon Brush (2) and Microfiber Brush (3).

The shape of the two brush (2,3) is like a roller type, having length near to the length of the device such that one brush (2) can be fixed between the driving motors (4a-4b) and another brush (3) can be fixed between driving motors (6a-6b) and there these brushes (2, 3) can be rotated along its axis which is formed by the motor rotating shafts (5a-5b) for brush (2) and shafts (7a- 7b) for brush (3).

The surface is cleaned first by Nylon Brush followed by Microfiber Brush. Nylon Brush (2) rotates at lower RPM. In one embodiment the brush (2) rotates at a speed of 100 RPM. It carries away the bigger particles of the dust. As the brush RPM is low, the brush consumes lesser power while driving. However, the second brush (3) rotates at higher speed. In one embodiment the brush (3) rotates at a speed of 600 RPM. In one embodiment the brush (3) rotates at a speed of 500 RPM. The microfiber brush (3) is cloth type brush and hence when rotated at higher RPM, it does not consume more power. Microfiber brush (3) is responsible for removing the fine particles and action of both gives a cleaned finish surface over the solar panel.

The Nylon brush (2) is rotated at a speed of 100 rounds per minute (RPM). The Microfiber brush (3) is rotated at a speed of 500 rounds per minute (RPM). During the cleaning action, the surface is cleaned with nylon brush (2) first followed by microfiber Brush (3). The eight PODs (Ml to M8) when attached at eight PODs mounting Points (Cl to C8) and when controlled with the control system (C), it allows the robot to move in any 2D path.

In one embodiment, the above described cleaning robot comprises an extra rail support. An Extra rail support can be added with the above described cleaning robot Y27 for helping it to stay on the inclined surface, which is described in the next paragraphs.

The proposed design of the cleaning robot as shown in figure- 1 and figure-4 can be used along with a support system such as a rail system. The idea of introducing rail is to ensure cleaning even if the angle of surface is higher. Figure 5 shows cleaning robot Y27 on rails.

Referring figure-5, the arrow mark pointing indicate the direction of cleaning of the robotic device Y27 of figure-4.

The device comprises railing system such as an aluminium rod (18) over which the robotic device Y27 (17) of present invention is placed over the rail (18). The rail (18) comprises fixed wheels (19) on the surface.

The Y27 cleaning device can operate independently as well as with mounting setup. When Mounted with this setup, the frame rods (rail) (18) helps the robots from slipping on the inclined surface. The robot can be handled manually as well as automatically according to the user.

In one embodiment the robot Y27 operate independently. In one embodiment the robot Y27 operate manually.

In this configuration there is not much use of OCT APOD mechanism, but this ensures the robot is being used at higher angle. In the rail mechanism the robotic device Y27 can slide alongside the rail, and can be tightened if required to any point. The rail system has a gripper kind of wheels at the end which fixes the rails to solar panels. The Y27 slides on this rails allowing it to clean solar panels. The movement of the robot is in direction marked by forward. Such a system allows cleaning at higher angle of inclination. One another advantage of the system is that without increasing any hardware the larger surfaces can be cleaned by sliding the Y27 on rails appropriately.

In another embodiment, the present invention provides another design of the robotic device of the present invention. This system allows the device to work on solar panels of different size.

In this other design, the design of the cleaning robotic device proposed is an extendable deign wherein there are two sub-assemblies (SI, S2) which are placed in inter connected way. Each assembly S l and S2 comprises four wheels. Thus total eight wheels are attached to the device S28. Each assembly further comprises two supporting members that keep the device above the solar panel having high degree of inclination. Each sub-assembly comprises two brushes, thus the device S28 with two sub-assemblies comprises total four brushes. This variant of robotic system is called S28. The paragraphs below further describes this variant of robotic system (S28) with reference to figures 6-11.

Figure-6A shows S28 in expanded mode comprising S l and S2.

Sub-assembly S l is formed by side frame (la) and middle frame (laa)

Sub-assembly S2 is formed by side frame (lbb) and middle frame (lb).

Further S l comprises a Nylon brush (2A), a Microfiber Brush (3 A), Nylon brush (2A) driving Motor (4A), Microfiber Brush (3A) Driving Motor (6A). Bearings (13A, 2 numbers) holds the brush (2A and 3 A) with attachment to the frame member (laa) and other ends of brush (2A, 3 A) are held by the motor shafts of motors (4 A, 6 A) at frame member (la) of S l.

Similarly Sub-assembly S2 comprises a Nylon brush (2B), a Microfiber Brush (3B), Nylon brush (2B) driving Motor (4B), Microfiber Brush (3B) Driving Motor (6B). Bearings (13B, 2 numbers) holds the brush (2B and 3B) with attachment to the frame member (lb) and other ends of brush (2B, 3B) are held by the motor shafts of motors (4B, 6B) at frame member (lbb) of S2.

S l and S2 are assemble and connected to each other in such a way that Sl and S2 can slide inwardly to give the compress form of the device S28 as shown in Figure-6B and can slide outwardly to give the expanded form of S28 as shown in Figure-6A.

Frame (laa) of S l comprises locking Point (22A) of Bot A and Frame (lb) of S2 comprises locking Point (22B) of Bot B. Thus the two sub-assemblies S 1 and S 1 are interlocked by the help of looking points (22 A and 22B).

The Middle Frames (laa, lb) and side frames (la, lbb) are made up of Aluminium. The thickness of side frame and middle frame may be upto 7 mm, preferably it is 7 mm thick.

Advantage of such system is that, it cleans the solar panels in one go without going back and forth.

The expanding version allows it to go to different size of solar panels without any hardware modification.

This does not require any extra support like rail to clean at higher inclination. In one embodiment, the S28 design can perform cleaning function satisfactorily at angles up-to 60 degree.

In one preferred embodiment, the S28 design can perform cleaning function satisfactorily at angles up-to 45 degree.

Figure 7 and Figure 8 (A-B) shows sub assembly. The sub assembly consist of two brushes, nylon and microfiber brush. Figure 9 shows two specific part (frame parts) of the sub assembly which allows the robot to take variable height of brush by mounting at different holes.

Figure-7 shows the top structural overview of one sub assembly (S2) of S28. Along with this S2, similar another second sub-assembly (S l) complimentary to (S2), is to be attached in an inter connected way such that the two-sub assemblies (S l, S2) when connected together, give the complete device (S28).

As shown in Fig.8A and 8B, both frames of S l and S2 comprises four Wheel Fixing Points (23, 24, 25, and 26) as shown in the figure which enable movement of the device S28.

Each middle frame of S 1 and S2, comprises a clearance space (27) for free pass of the brush of the other assembly. The brush (3A) of S l pass via space (27) in frame (lb) of S2. Similarly there is space for clearance in frame (laa) of S l, wherein the brush (2B) of S2 pass.

Thus expansion and compression of the two assemblies S l and S2 is achieved by such arrangement of sub-assemblies S l and S2.

Referring Figure 9, the middle frame and side frames at top comer ends, comprises mounting points (28) for Aluminium Rods. The frames also comprises multiple points/holes (29) to set brush height. The brush can be fitted on any setoff two holes to get the corresponding height. Thus height of the cleaning brush is adjustable.

Figure 10 shows the design of wheel for S28. Each assembly S l or S2 comprises four Wheel Fixing Points (23, 24, 25, and 26) as shown in the figure 8A-B which enable movement of the device S28.

This comprises a single Wheel (20) of figure 10, driven by a PMDC motor (21), wherein the wheel (20) attached to the motor (21) and the motor is attached to the frame by a Motor Assembly holder (30). The holder (30) comprises Fixing Point having fixing means such as nut (31) holding point are provided to tighten the motor assembly to the aluminium rod of the frame assembly. Thus in complete S28 device, it comprises eight wheels as shown in figure- 10 in two sub- assemblies, each assembly having four wheels. These eight wheels move the device in the solar panel surface.

Further the device S28 as shown in Figure-8A-B, each side frame of each assembly Sl and S2, each assembly comprises two supporting members (32, 32) in each side frame of each assembly which comprises a PMDC driven wheel (20) of figure- 10 attached by a suitable attaching means that attach the member (32)

The supporting members (32) comprising wheel (20) with attachment means as shown in figures 8A-B and Figure 11, keep the device S28 in high inclined angle solar panel surfaces. The wheel (20) of member (32) engages at the two edges of the solar panels and thus prevent fall of the device from the panel surfaces as shown in Figure 11B.

Figure 11A: A plain view of the cleaning robot S28 comprising the two sub-assemblies S l and S2 showing width adjustment feature and supporting member (32) with wheels (20).

Figure 11B: Shows cleaning robot S28 of Fig. 11 A placed over an inclined solar panel surface (33). The supporting member (32) are engaged at the edges of the panel surface (33). This allows the device to hold in the high inclined surface. The width adjustment of S 1 and S2 by feature of expansion and compression as described above allows to take the device fit for use in different size of solar panels (33).

In one of the model of S28, the length in the line between the side frame and inner frame along the direction of long brush of each of sub-assembly S l and S2 is 1.2 meter. Thus the complete S28 device can expand upto 2.4 meter and can cover a panel having width between two edges upto 2.4 meter.

However this is not limited and is the measurement of a prototype S28 device tested. Other variable width can be designed.

Figure 12 shows the outline of the Control System of the Device. The system may be applied in both the semi-automatic and automatic device types. The control system (C) comprises one or more systems/applications for integration of hardware systems and software therefor. In one preferred embodiment, the device of figure-l, figure-4, Figure-6A, 6B, Figure 11A-11B are integrated control system (C).

The device of the present invention can be operated either fully autonomous mode or in semi- autonomous mode. In the fully autonomous mode, the device can operate by its own intelligence. Once the device is switched on and placed at the surface to be cleaned, all the functions are performed automatically. In the semi-autonomous mode, the device is operated through a remote controller which comprises various buttons and keys specified with specific function commands.

The control system (C) comprises one or more of hardware components such as circuit, embedded circuit, controller unit, processing unit, networking unit, intelligent unit, storage unit (memory), Micro Controller Unit (MCU), A Global Positioning System (GPS), General Packet Radio Services (GPRS), Radio Frequency (RF), Integrated Circuit, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), feedback sensor such as potentiometer (POT), proximity sensor; and software components including coding, flow-charts, schemes, algorithms, protocols, motor drivers to drive motors to make the device work independently and intelligently, without intervening of human being. It is also possible to control the device from a remote location via an appropriate remote controlling system/device which works in co-ordination with the cleaning device. The remote controller can communicate with the robotic device via wireless communication via communication system of the device.

Further, the device of figure-l, Figure-4, Figure 6A-6B, Figure 11A-11B comprises power source (P). The power source of the device may be from a solar panel system provided with the device itself or from a battery. The power source supply power to the MCU, Motors for the brush and wheels and other elements which require power to run.

Further, the device of figure-l, Figure-4, Figure 6A-6B, Figure 11A-11B can be operated via a remote control device.

The MCU is the central unit which controls all functions of the robot and it receive signals from periphery attached elements and accordingly based on software provided and embedded in the MCU, it commands actions to other elements and devices controllable by MCU as shown in Figure 12.

The robot start moving based upon the signal from RF (Radio Frequency) via remote control. The remote sends the signal about the direction of movement. When the device moves over a panel and if the panel is loose, there will be vibrations, these vibrations will be detected by an Inertial Measurement unit (IMU). In one prototype model, the device uses Inertial Measurement unit MPU 9150 in the system. IMU basically detects the vibration of the machine.

The device has a GPS system, which enables it to know its location. When the device leaves a particular Geo-fencing area, the signal will be sent to the server, enabling anti lost feature. GPS locates the area at which the device is located. The signal is sent through the communication unit. The robot uses proximity sensors to detect the edges of solar panel as it moves. The proximity sensors send signal to the microcontroller when the edges are sensed. In one prototype model machine sensor used is n16180C which is light based proximity sensor.

The motors are driven by Motor drivers (MD-l, MD-2) which enhances the current from the MCU, enabling to operate for high Load as the motors are high power device.

The main controller of the robot is the central MCU, it takes signal from Proximity sensor, GPS, IMU, and controls the brush Motors through a motor driver. It also controls the wheel motor through another motor driver.

The device gets signal from RF (radio Frequency) through a hand held device such as a remote control or other similar handy device with the user.

Software for the robot:

The central MCU is programmed in embedded C, for fully autonomous navigation. Other programme language can also be used. For fully autonomous navigation the said robot finds the bottom left corner of the solar panel table.

The robot first maps the solar panel table by identifying comers of the Solar Panel table. Once the mapping is done the robot starts from bottom left corner, moves towards the top left comer in a straight line. The robot then moves right to the equivalent length of the machine. The robot next comes towards bottom of the solar panel table then robot moves to right to the equivalent length of the machine and moves upwards. The process is repeated until it reaches the top right comer, it cleans while it moves. The robot uses proximity sensors to detect the edges of solar panel as it moves.

Dual Motion technology:

The said robot consists of octopod, where in each POD consist of two motors and a feedback Potentiometer. The feedback POT provides way two control the variable angle of the POD. When the motors are aligned at 0 degree the robot moves in direction of bmshes. When these motors are aligned 90 degree, the robot moves in perpendicular direction of brushes. The robot can also move in any other angle depending upon the wheel alignment. The angle can be varied dynamically (while in motion) allowing the robot to move in any 2 Dimensional curve.

The robotic device of the present invention including the variants of design and models, the device further comprises anti-theft feature and detection of loose solar panels by the robot device. Each robot is equipped with a Micro Controller Unit, A Global Positioning System Integrated Circuit, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and a GPRS system. Using the GPS the robot knows its position all around, it uploads the data to the server. When a theft of robot happens the GPS will tell us the exact location of the robot.

Loose panel Detection: Using the IMU, the robot can sense vibrations if the panel on which it is cleaning is loosely fitted, as loosely fit in frame will vibrate along with the robot.