As their name suggests, the working principle behind solar panels is to use sunlight as a form of energy, from which electricity can be generated.
However, in order for a solar panel to work at full capacity, it doesn't just have to find itself gently caressed by sun-rays. Quite the contrary: it needs to tackle sunlight full-front.
Seeing how the sun doesn't usually remain in one place for too long (actually, it does; it's the earth that revolves, but for argument's sake let's leave it at that), direct sunlight only hits ordinary solar panels for a relatively small number of hours each day.
Aware of this unpleasant and even a bit frustrating situation, two students from the Cornell University, who are major in electrical engineering, decided that it might not be such a bad idea to put their diplomas to good use and came up with an up-graded version of your traditional and rather up-tight solar panels.
informs us, their invention, which goes by the name of HelioWatcher, comes equipped with both a GPS module and a magnetometer.
These two devices allow the solar panels to calculate the exact position of the sun at any given moment in time and to orient themselves so as to catch sunlight at the most efficient angle.
As the researchers in charge of this project explain, “The base is mounted like a Lazy Susan, able to pivot on the horizontal plane. The bottom edge of the solar panel is mounted with two door hinges, with a motorized screw jack used to raise and lower it.”
For the time being, the HelioWatcher project is still a purely theoretical and experimental one, but as both the idea behind it and the design seem simple enough, odds are that solar-panels manufacturers will soon wish to make such products available to their willing-to-buy customers.