Fully autonomous robotic pile driver for solar PV projects

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  • Built Robotics has launched the RPD 35, a fully autonomous robotic pile driver that integrates survey data, pile distribution, pile driving, and inspection.
  • The company claims it is the world’s first and can deploy utility-scale solar foundations up to five times faster than standard installation methods.

Built Robotics says the RPD 35 can install an estimated 300 piles per day with a two-person crew, a notable improvement in efficiency compared to the 100 units typically installed per day by a conventional team.

The RPD 35 adds four components to a standard excavator, which work together to facilitate the autonomous pile driving process. Steel arms extend from both sides of the excavator, supporting two baskets that collectively hold close to 200 piles. A custom-designed hammer assembly, located at the end of the excavator’s arm, drives the piles into the ground, impacting piles up to 500 times per minute with 4,000 pounds of force per foot. On average, the unit can place a single pile in 73 seconds.

The Exosystem (CPU) manages the entire operation, driving piles with sub-centimeter accuracy. The liquid-cooled Intel Xeon computer processor and Nvidia graphic processing units power the Exosystem vision system.

The computer’s design features shock and vibration resistance, as well as robust protection from water and dust ingress, despite being installed on the outside of the excavator and exposed to potentially harsh construction site conditions. Built Robotics’ website shows that the Exosystem computer is compatible with most mid-sized late-model excavatorsranging from 15 to 50 tons.

The company says it has participated in more than 2 GW of solar installations since 2018. The first RPD 35 units are scheduled for deployment in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Author: John Fitzgerald Weaver

This article was originally published in pv magazine and is republished with permission.


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