Staubli invests in US developer of solar inspection robots


Staubli, known for supplying electrical connectors for solar plants and energy storage applications, has invested in a financing round for California-based OnSight Technology. The Swiss components manufacturer did not reveal the size of the investment in the two-year-old US startup, which develops autonomous ground vehicles to provide PV plant monitoring, including inspections of the rear sides of installed PV modules.

The financing round is meant to finance further development of the algorithms and artificial intelligence technology that OnSight Technology uses in its robots. They are equipped with computer vision systems, thermal cameras, and heat sensors to provide surveillance, detect anomalies, and record the status of infrastructure at PV plants.

The units can purportedly detect electrical problems that could threaten plant safety. The unmanned, remotely controlled units are solar-powered and can move at a speed of 1.6 km per hour for up to 12 hours a day.

It lists several reference customers on its website, including Duke Energy, a public utility, Enerparc, a German solar PV plant specialist, and McCarthy, a utility-scale solar and energy storage project company.

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Staubli was joined by a second lead investor, Moneta Ventures, an early-stage investor based in California, along with an earlier investor Growth Factory Ventures, a startup accelerator based in California.

Staubli said the investment is closely aligned with its area of expertise.

“With our proven track record in the photovoltaics industry and our longstanding experience, we feel that it’s our responsibility to invest in the future of safer solar farms,” said Matthias Mack, vice president of renewable energy at Staubli. “We are very excited to participate in the development projects of OnSight Technology's innovative solutions.”

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