The Future of Insulation is Robotic

The Future of Insulation is Robotic

15th April 2016

Recently we’ve been looking at the increase use of technology here in the UK construction. So far, we’ve brought you the stories about the Tiger Stone paving brick layer that churns out roads at an astonishing rate, Hadrian the house-building machine and Hadrian’s little brother, SAM who works alongside human brick layers doing most of the repetitive work.  Well now we have news of a brand new robot on the block – Q-Bot, a robot that is helping install insulation in houses in the UK.

Q-Bot is a company that develops intelligent tools for the built environment in a bid to turn jobs that are difficult, disruptive and dirty into clean, efficient and safe processes.  These tools enable contractors to access hard to reach areas where it would be difficult or disruptive for a human being to do so.  The machines are able to survey and understand their environment and automatically build maps and identify any services that can be provided.   They allow users to apply a range of treatments remotely and also provide proof of their application in order to ensure quality control.

Q-Bot was acquired by parent company EcoMachines Ventures and has secured follow on investments which bring the total funding secured since late 2015 to £2 million.  This includes financing from the EU Commission Horizon 2020 Programme, the largest EU Research and Innovation programme ever.  Horizon 2020 is a flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness in the future and should drive economic growth and create jobs.  This research is an investment in our future that has been put at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.

Q-Bot, as a company acknowledges that the construction industry still relies on labour intensive processes that have not changed for hundreds of years.  They are dedicated to creating intelligent tools that will empower people and upskill the workforce, making operations safer, more productive and rewarding while creating new jobs. 

Q-Bot robots crawl into difficult to access areas of building such as under the floorboards to conduct surveys and spray insulation.  Following two years of trials the energy saving measured in trail sites (or calculated using SAPO) depends very much on the nature of the property being worked on, but it’s typically in the region of £100 - £300 per year, an attractive saving for most householders. 

Q-Bot is now collaborating with Camden Council, City/West Homes, Islington and Peabody to install insulation in homes, delivering a considerable efficiency improvement in insulation and a substantial reduction in permeability.  Following the installation, total loss of heat through the floor was reduced by a massive 86% for a home with exposed timber flooring and by 72% for a home with timber floorboards covered with carpet.  These figures are not to be sneezed at and it looks as if Q-Bot will become the “Builder’s Little Helper” of choice here in the UK.  As for keeping up with the Joneses, the Welsh Assembly Government has been quick to jump on the bandwagon and plan to trial the solution with some public sector buildings in Cardiff.