A Rugged Rover in Search of Electromagnetic Interference

Share this article:

In field tests at the 1-megawatt Strawberry Plains solar power plant, an EPRI-developed robot demonstrated its ability to navigate rough terrain autonomously and collect accurate data on electromagnetic interference.

Interference radiating from power electronics in large solar arrays may violate Federal Communications Commission regulations. To assess its strength and source, it’s necessary to gather, store, and analyze large amounts of data.

Known as the “Big, Autonomous, Mobile Measurement Platform” (BAMMP), the robot measures 42 inches by 33 inches by 20 inches, with four large wheels and a platform for various sensors (see photo above). Operators control it remotely via an onboard computer.

The robot collects electromagnetic spectrum data as it follows a programmed path, using a global positioning system to pinpoint the location of each measurement. To evaluate the effectiveness of corrective actions, the robot may gather data along the same path in the future. Researchers upgraded the robot prototype with the larger platform and wheelbase for smoother operation on rough terrain. New software enables the user to map interference levels throughout a facility (see photo below).

The robot measured the entire Strawberry Plains facility in one day.

A map, generated by EPRI software, showing the maximum elevated interference levels measured at the Strawberry Plains solar facility. The base image is from Google Maps.