agricultural robot

ARPA-E Goes to EarthX

April 25, 2018

They say everything is big in Texas, and at this year’s EarthX event, it certainly felt that way. ARPA-E joined a trio of its awardees for this year’s conference, a massive expo in Dallas focused on energy, the environment, and new technology to solve some of our most pressing problems. ARPA-E’s mission has innovation at its core, so EarthX was a prime opportunity to showcase some of the agency’s most exciting energy projects while helping the public better understand ARPA-E’s mission and the role of energy in Americans’ everyday lives.

UHV Technologies: X-Ray Enhanced Scrap Metal Sorter

Hailing from Fort Worth, UHV Technologies brought their scrap metal sorter developed to prevent waste by using X-rays to identify different types of metals and encourage domestic recycling.


Today, much of that scrap goes overseas to be sorted by hand, an inefficient and time-consuming process. UHV’s sorter is capable of sorting many different kinds of scrap, including metals that need lots of energy to produce like aluminum, stainless steel, copper/brass, zinc, lead and several alloys.

You can learn more about UHV’s project in this video from the 2018 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit.

University of Texas at Dallas: Ultra-large Wind Turbine

Teaming up with the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Dallas is developing a wind turbine of epic proportions. Using a technology they call the Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR), the turbine will be capable of withstanding strong winds by folding back its blades, much like a palm tree during a hurricane.


This adaptability allows the team to envision blades much longer than what is possible today, opening the possibility to 50 MW turbines capable of powering thousands of homes.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: Terra Sentia

Part of the ARPA-E TERRA program, this agricultural robot deploys into the field to observe and analyze the traits of individual energy plants. The Terra Sentia robot uses a combination of machine vision and GPS to navigate autonomously, returning to home base to share what it has learned.

agricultural robot

The data collected from projects in the TERRA program is helping to create the next generation of efficient biofuels by identifying the traits best suited to fuel production. This information is extremely helpful to researchers, who have so far been limited by the hands-on nature of documenting plant characteristics today.

Several hundred attendees stopped by the ARPA-E booth over the Earth Day weekend, getting a first-hand opportunity to see how energy affects many different aspects of their lives. Hopefully—with hard work and a little luck—a few will rise to be the next generation of engineers, scientists and technologists ready take on the mission of building a more competitive and secure America.