Q-Bot | Using insulation robots and AI to save energy
When it comes to insulating a home, floors are often overlooked as it can be a disruptive and daunting process that historically involves ripping the house apart. However, Q-Bot is here to save the day (and your floorboards), armed with a family of robots, artificial intelligence processes and the ability to go where no human has before.
Name of product | Q-Bot
Price | Depends on size and complexity of the job but costs on average £2,000 to £4,000 to insulate the suspended timber floor of an existing house
Target | Local authorities and housing associations
Challenge | UK homes are some of the most expensive to heat in Europe. According to research by Buildings Performance Institute Europe, they have the oldest age profile in the EU with over 60% being built before 1960, and with only just over 10% being built between 1991-2010. Many of these properties have suspended timber floors which are responsible for a lot of heat loss and draughts. Q-Bot was founded when Tom Lipinski identified an untapped need for under-floor insulation. Working with Imperial College London’s Professor Peter Childs and CEO of Q-Bot, Mathew Holloway, he developed a robotic solution that could apply insulation without having to rip the house apart.
Solution | Q-Bot uses robotics and Artificial Intelligence technologies across a range of applications to inspect, monitor and maintain the health of buildings. These include robotic vehicles, advanced manufacturing and 3D printing techniques, control routines for autonomous localisation and navigation, 3D mapping of environments with automatic categorisation of features, as well as tools to manage the installation process and the data collected.
The SprayBot robot is first inserted into a small space beneath the floorboards, which it then explores and creates a 3D map of to allow the operator to assess the installation, identify any risks and ensure the property is suitable. The insulation is then sprayed to the underside of the floorboards which expands to fill gaps.
The SurveyBot allows inspection of assets and infrastructure in a range of environments that are either hazardous of physically impractical for a human to enter. Like the SprayBot, it can be inserted through a small access hatch and can map the environment autonomously or be controlled. The bot builds up an accurate 3D textured model, which includes visual and thermal information and identifies hazards or obstacles.
Results | Q-Bot floor insulation can reduce heat loss through the floor by up to 90% and improve the air-tightness of a property by up to 50%. For landlords and tenants, this can result in lower energy bills, comfier homes and on average a gain of 5.7 points for Energy Performance Certificates. For those in the construction industry, the robots can turn dangerous jobs into efficient and safe processes.
Clients | Q-Bot are currently working with registered social landlords at two levels: service, where Q-Bot would deliver the installations, and partnership, where the landlords deliver installations using their framework contractor. Your Homes Newcastle is Q-Bot’s first partner and they will be launching services to other housing associations in Q3 of this year.
Camden Council used Q-Bot’s services as a way of tackling fuel poverty after residents gave feedback that one their main concerns was cold air coming into flats.