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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Solar-Powered Robot  
  A robot powered by sunlight.  

This is an early reference to this idea.

The sun, rising over the hills, cast long shadows...

X-120 faced the new day and the new spring with a feeling of exhilaration that nearly drove the age-old loneliness and emptiness from the corroded metal of what might have been called his brain. The sun was the source of his energy, even as it had been the source of the fleshy life before him; and with the sun's reappearance he felt new strength coursing through the wires and coils and gears of his complex body.

He and his companions were highly developed robots, the last ever to be made by the Earthmen. X-120 consisted of a globe of metal, eight feet in diameter, mounted upon four many-jointed legs. At the top of this globe was a protuberance like a kaiser's helmet which caught and stored his power from the rays of the sun.

From Rust, by Joseph E. Kelleam.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1939
Additional resources -

Thanks to the Three Hoarsemen for the tip on this story.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Rust
  More Ideas and Technology by Joseph E. Kelleam
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  Tech news articles related to works by Joseph E. Kelleam

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