London based start-up Q-Bot is on a mission to take its robot into your home – but don’t worry – it wants to do the jobs you hate.
The company has developed a robotics tool, also called ‘Q-Bot’, which it says can insulate your home’s floor, saving you money whilst also “making cold and uncomfortable floors a thing of the past.”
The compact yet sturdy robot is able to apply underfloor insulation, thus removing the need to pull-up floorboards or install cut-to-fit panels. It is, in the firm’s own words, providing “intelligent tools for the built environment, that turn difficult, disruptive and dirty jobs into clean, efficient and safe processes.”
When introduced into the bowels of a building, the robot uses its cameras, environmental sensors and range finders to map and survey the area (including evaluating the condition of the building). It provides insights on what lies beneath, before using the data to systematically spray insulating material to the underside of flooring.
It can then record the depth of the insulation applied. Q-Bot’s founders say that the benefits of the robot include fewer draughts, lower bills and improved air quality – and all without the need for too much upheaval. Apparently this is becoming an increasingly vital job, especially in the UK where are some 6 million homes built before 1919.
The firm, which now has 18 people across London and Cambridge, came about after securing EU Commission funding from its Horizon 2020 program. This is something the founders say was “instrumental” for the business to scale to its current use by local authorities and housing associations.
So, why establish the Q-Bot? Talking with co-founder Matthew Holloway recently, he describes that over a quarter of UK properties (as many as 7 million) have got suspended timber floors, which can allow cold air to come-up and dampness to set in.
“[Q-Bot founder and CCO] Tom Lipinski, an architect working in retrofit, had the idea for Q-Bot. He looked down and realized no one was thinking about how we can insulate the floor without having to rip the house apart.”
“I thought it would be a great opportunity and jumped on board. We started by evaluating the market and talking to customers and then set about building a remotely operated device that could apply insulation.”
Funding for the robot and the future
Holloway says that company funding has to date come from Horizon 2020, with additional support coming from the UK’s InnovateUK, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. The firm also won the French Tech Ticket competition in 2015.
Holloway is now an ambassador for a competition which is open to tech start-ups and entrepreneurs from around the globe, providing they are in creation or in early-growth phase. The competition seeks to reward up to 70 winners with a package of prizes that include €45,000 in funding for each start-up team and 12 months of hosting in a French incubator.
“Today the service is used in the UK with social landlords who provide housing across the country. The first overseas installs to trial the solution are booked in for next year in France and we have interest across from across the globe,” said Holloway.
He has big ambitions for the future, too.
“Q-Bot is developing a number of new products and services. Our goal is to create intelligent processes for the built environment that empower workers, making them safer and more productive. There is a huge opportunity for this in the construction industry.”