In this special edition of Contractor’s Corner, autonomous lawn care provider Renu Robotics discusses the growing landscaping needs of an expanding large-scale solar market and how remote robotic lawn care can benefit large-scale solar developers. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Renu Robotics operates in 15 states, and founder and CEO Tim Matus explains how the company will grow from there.
Below you will find some of the solar projector podcast with Solar Power World, but be sure to listen to the full episode here or on your favorite podcast app.
How is the business growing and how are things going for you?
We have grown by leaps and bounds. It was a great year for us. We now operate in approximately 15 states and plan to continue to expand. Lots of new machines are coming out and the growth of solar power continues to be quite expansive. Lots of vegetation issues that everyone is having, the same things these days, where they can’t get people to their sites to take care of their mowing and vegetation. It is difficult to hire people. It becomes a quick fix to solve a lot of problems they face. So we’re taking a lot of calls and we’re building machines as quickly as we can and expanding our manufacturing facilities.
With your current growth, what has Renu collectively learned from his experiences in the field and how has that translated into the robot’s performance and capabilities?
So we have gained considerable experience early on in understanding solar energy, and especially large-scale solar energy. There’s a lot going on in the field that influences how we’ve developed the system and how it works. Certainly one of the key things is just understanding that there’s a lot of change and stuff happening dynamically and that we’re using a bit of machine learning and artificial intelligence in our software to take decisions as you go, in a sense like a person, but even having more abilities beyond what a normal person would do on a long day.
With Renu Robotics’ expanding capabilities, what does this mean for your product offerings like Recharge Module and Mission Control?
We will continue to work on our products and improve them more and more. Of course one of the things we’re already working on is adding tracks so we can handle some of the wet and rougher terrain and even things like steep angles where they have to cut into the sides of ditches or what kind of thing. We’re looking at things like sensors in the field that can be connected to our robot; we’re looking at inspection systems that can examine solar panels to determine if they’re cracked or failing or are peeling or could fail in the future — systems that would actually be able to examine currents and voltages in certain places ; we are looking for systems that could clean solar panels in dustier areas where you don’t get enough rain to keep them clean by doing more self-maintenance.
We really designed and built a flexible system, an electric tractor that can go out at any time and do all types of maintenance.
With the solar industry growing both globally and in North America, does that mean your market is also growing?
Our market is growing and as we build more units and bring them to market, we now see approximately 1 million acres or so under utility scale solar panels. Nearly 6 million acres are predicted by some predictions by 2030. But it’s not just the United States that is growing so rapidly. We are also asked to participate in operations in many other countries. We are unable to do this at this time, but we are looking at how we can make it happen as soon as possible. The need is there, the interest is there. This growth is considerable, just like here in the United States
What’s next for Renu Robotics? What’s on the horizon?
Renu is currently working to grow the business, continuing to expand our manufacturing operations. It’s a lot of work and a lot of effort on that side to make sure that we produce good products and quality products every day. We will consider larger facilities. We have exceeded manufacturing capacity here. Our mission control is also experiencing considerable growth. We continue to develop this backbone to ensure that we have the capacity to grow over the next few years. The building will become three or four times bigger next year.
This podcast is sponsored by Renu Robotics