“Innovation is anticipating future needs with a medium-term vision”
The field of Robotics is no longer limited to science fiction. Thanks to the latest trends and advances in technology, we can expect to be working side by side with robots sooner than we think. They will also perform tasks that humans find difficult. M2D Technologies, a tech company based in Catania, Italy, is already working towards this future. “We imagine robots that, by using our platform, will move in complete autonomy between the panels of the photovoltaic fields, monitor their status, predict faults and carry out maintenance,” says Davide Marano, CEO of M2D.
The team at M2D plans to create a platform that automates supervision and maintenance of photovoltaic systems through the use of autonomous robotic systems and intelligent control software. In order to achieve this, Marano explains that M2D “develops monitoring and prediction solutions based on IoT, Big Data technologies, Artificial Intelligence, computer vision and machine learning.”
How will this solution impact the photovoltaic system landscape? It will increase the level of automation and detail, thereby “allowing us to know the health status of each panel remotely and without the need for field operators, with obvious savings in terms of time and costs, not to mention improved operational efficiency,” Marano adds.
Real time solutions for real time problems
Apart from robotics, the data generated and its interpretation are crucial to making decisions, especially when it comes to energy production. M2D is currently working on an algorithm that facilitates decision-making with “nowcasting,” a technique that “enables you to predict the outcomes of what will happen in the very near future, within the next 15 minutes, for instance,” says Marano. He explains that nowcasting is particularly useful for plant operators, like those working at our facility in Catania, when they have to choose the best source for their final system.
We have been collaborating with M2D Technologies through the Enel Green Power division since 2017. At our recently inaugurated Catania Innovation Hub & Lab, Marano and his team are currently working “to provide additional information regarding the status and the production of [our] plants, based on forecasting and nowcasting,” he explains. Through the collaboration between M2D and Enel Green Power, we “will create a new integrated platform that will incrementally support the development of our future modules,” he adds.
Expertise and resources with a great human environment
Marano acknowledges that the Catania Hub & Lab provides a unique space for facilitating innovation. He says: “Enel allows us to have access to know-how and infrastructures, which are a fundamental aspect for the development and testing of innovative solutions in the energy field.” Furthermore, Enel Green Power’s reputation as a leader in the renewable energy industry allows M2D to have a more direct channel with other organisations working in this area.
Marano believes that the “Enel Innovation Hub in Catania is certainly one of the best environments for innovation in the energy industry; it’s one of the few places in the world that combines a comfortable and startup-oriented environment with an ‘open-air laboratory, where you can develop technologies in the areas of renewable energy and test them.” He highlights the contribution of the people who work there: “they greatly enrich the development of high-tech solutions.”
Robotics, data and ideas are on the table. We have everything we need in order to do our work.