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IPFS News Link • Transportation

Robotic RV solar panel auto-tracks the sun to double base camp power

•, By C.C. Weiss

California startup Roboteos has a third idea in mind, launching a rooftop solar charging system that automatically deploys and tracks the sun throughout the day. Called the Heliotrope 1.0, it's designed to pull in every last photon, giving van lifers the most charge without requiring they move a muscle.

With the all-electric RV market slowly ramping up, and an ever-growing amount of electrical equipment and gadgetry to power at camp, RVs are relying on bigger and bigger battery banks, some carrying as much battery capacity as a Tesla. Compound that with the popularity of off-road adventure and boondocking, and you have serious demand for mightier off-grid charging capability.

Solar remains a popular, straightforward way of charging at camp without running a loud, emissions-spewing generator engine, but solar charging can be slow and time-consuming, and vehicles are limited to how much square footage of panels they can fit.

Roboteos has designed the Heliotrope 1.0 to deliver a smarter form of charging that boosts efficiency enough to get more power out of a smaller array. It essentially combines the advantages of the deployable standalone system and the permanently mounted roof panel system.

A convenient all-in-one package, the Heliotrope mounts atop a van or RV roof as a slim box that rises just 6 inches (15 cm) above the surface of the roof. The design uses a combination of GPS and sensor-packed internal measurement unit (IMU) to track the position of the sun in relation to the vehicle. The owner need only switch the system on via the wireless touchscreen controller and it will automatically deploy at sunrise, reposition for the best sun exposure throughout the day, and fold back away into packed form after sunset.