Members of the Jackson County 4-H clubs’ high school robotics team have taken their technology to a new level by using the sun’s energy to power their robots against other machines in competitions around the state. The team’s robots draw power from batteries charged by a mobile solar generator provided by Green Power EMC. The team rebranded itself from the “Chargers” to the “Solar Chargers” to reflect their solar focus.
Green Power, a renewable energy cooperative owned by Georgia’s EMCs, assisted the club as it has participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition, held at the district and state levels. Additionally, the Jackson EMC Foundation, established by Green Power EMC member Jackson EMC, awarded the team a $6,000 grant in January to assist them in the competition. FIRST is designed to encourage students in math, science and related fields by combining the excitement of competition with the rigors of science and technology.
At the state competition recently in Athens, the team received the “Excellence in Engineering Award” for their innovative lift mechanism, one of the most critical tools that robots use to compete successfully. The competitive robots score points by breaching opponents’ defenses and putting boulders through goals in the opposing tower.
Adding to their innovation, the Solar Chargers robots in 2016 have been fueled entirely by solar energy. This makes them the only renewable energy fueled competitor this year, or in any year, in Georgia, according to the team mentor, Harold Jarrett.
“What a great way to use solar energy – to show the opportunities of generating renewable energy from photovoltaics and storing that energy with battery technology for use in the state robotics competition,” Jarrett said. “We appreciate all the support that Green Power EMC has provided our team.”
Green Power EMC President Jeff Pratt called the team’s work with solar-powered robots a great learning experience.
“Green Power EMC is keenly interested in projects that combine education with solar power,” said Pratt. “The Jackson County 4-H robotics club efforts will no doubt encourage more interest in solar by using it in a non-traditional application – in this case, to power competitive robots.”