A low-cost sun tracking system based on image processing and a robot arm

João Pombas, João Murta-Pina

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) envisages the use of optical systems built of lenses and/or mirrors to focus sunrays in highly efficient cells, thus reducing the amount of active material while increasing efficiency and energy production. When high concentration is desired, precise tracking systems must be implemented, as only direct radiation will contribute to energy conversion. This requires the development of tracking mechanisms that be compatible with the low angular displacements allowed. The higher the desired concentration, the higher the complexity and cost of typical tracking systems. This paper proposes a low-cost tracking mechanism, built by a webcam on a robotic arm, with distinct tracking modes implemented. The architecture and hardware and software components of the system are described, and its performance is assessed in clear sky and partial cloudy days. The system performance is more affected by the precision of the stepper motors used in the drive of the robotic arm, but a viable tracker, that can control large tracking structures, is built and demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2019 International Young Engineers Forum, YEF-ECE 2019
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781538692820
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Event3rd International Young Engineers Forum, YEF-ECE 2019 - Caparica, Portugal
Duration: 10 May 201910 May 2019


Conference3rd International Young Engineers Forum, YEF-ECE 2019


  • Concentrated photovoltaics (CPV)
  • image processing
  • sun tracking


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