Bright future for ATMs

Monday, 17 November, 2003

Research carried out by NCR Corporation in co-operation with the University of Dundee in Scotland may be the key to automated teller machine (ATM) deployment in some of the more remote corners of the globe. The Dundee research has demonstrated how an ATM could run on DC current from batteries powered by a solar panel.

Machines based on solar power could be used in conjunction with mobile communication technology (such as GSM or GPRS) in areas where there are power supply problems or where there are no land line communications and dial-up infrastructure in place. Solar panels are easy to set up and would enable an ATM to operate for long periods without battery changes. In areas with high levels of sunlight or where usage is light, continuous operation is possible using this technology.

While the research indicated that regions blessed with high levels of sunshine were perfect for solar-powered ATMs, results were also promising for less sunny locales. Testing took place in Dundee in March to determine the levels of light required to operate a wireless ATM. Even in the cloudy conditions dominant in Scotland in March, the tests showed that generating solar power was possible, though a bigger panel would be needed to get the same performance as in the more sunny regions of the world.

Mark Grossi, chief technology officer for NCR's Financial Solutions Division, explained, "The system can work anywhere where there's daylight. Using just two batteries, one will run the ATM while the other is being charged using solar power. The amount of sunlight required will depend on usage. In sunny parts of the world, however, even with high usage, continuous operation is possible. I can think of a number of situations where such technology could be used. It could even be the answer to cash at the beach for more remote resorts with high levels of seasonal usage." Justin Corles, Vice-President, Asia Pacific, Financial Services Division, said: "Communities living in remote parts of outback Australia would greatly benefit from the introduction of solar-powered ATMs. Right now, people living in some of these remote areas probably travel many kilometres at some inconvenience to get to their nearest bank. We are also blessed in as much as Australia has a lot of sunshine all year round, which is ideal when we talk about using solar energy to power the ATMs."

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