Hot or not? Solar-panel cleaner idea

A few times a week, brand-new contacts email me product announcements with relevancy that isn't immediately discernible. For example, I got one yesterday from someone with whom I'd never worked bearing the email title: Solarbrush: Meet a robot engineer fighting global warming at Clean Tech Forum, San Francisco. Well, okay ... this person I'm invited to meet certainly sounds ambitious enough.

For emails such as this from senders I don't recognize, I go through the normal four to 20-second mental decision tree: Is this spam? If no — is the sender a weirdo? If no — has this been emailed to five billion people? If no — is this irrelevant to what I'm tasked with covering? If no — does the sender seem unlikely to have additional information? If no — proceed with caution ... read the whole email, Google their gadget.

If at any time the question's answer is yes, email = Deleted ... or if the email is completely unrelated to new technology (say, something about a conspiracy of silence that promotes workplace harassment) it gets the dreaded Block Sender.

This little mental process takes time — precious, precious time. The tantalizing reward, of course, is that occasionally these emails contain interesting little-covered tidbits about new designs nobody is talking about, but should.

The email from yesterday is one of those nuggets. Check it out: A 27-year-old engineer named Ridha Azaiz in Germany has developed a robot that cleans solar panels. The design targets sunbelt regions in which sand and dust regularly deposit on panels, cutting their efficiency by 35%. His little company's website — — is a snapshot of what one German startup looks like, and how it justifies its technology.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Feb 17, 2015

This is a very good idea because there are more and more houses and small companies that are choosing to get their energy from the sun. The solar panels are quite expensive and it is not in your interest to buy new ones. The guys who are dealing with heating repair in Raleigh, NC can also adjust your solar panels in case the nature has damaged them or misplaced them.

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What's Product Design Engineering?

Existing and emerging technologies immediately applicable to product design, as well as industry trends that promise to change engineering.


Elisabeth Eitel

Elisabeth is Senior Editor of Machine Design magazine. She has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Fenn College at Cleveland State University. Over the last decade, Elisabeth has worked as a...
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