Q-Bot, the UK’s leading developer of robots for use in the construction industry, has closed an investment round of £450,000 supported by ClearlySo, Minerva Investors Group, Curious Capital, London Business Angels and Chicago Booth Angels. The investment is leveraged with £1,050,000 funding from the EU Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, to bring the total funding up to £1.5m. The new funds will allow Q-Bot to roll out the world’s first affordable solution for under floor insulation.
Hayley Collen, Investment Director at ClearlySo: “This is an exciting time for Q-Bot as it looks to scale up in the UK and launch in new markets. ClearlySo is proud to have helped them raise capital at each step of their journey to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty for customers in the UK and beyond.”
With an estimated 10m homes needing under floor insulation in the UK alone and with markets in Northern Europe and the US, there is a huge need to develop more scalable approaches for the retrofit of insulation. Q-Bot has developed a highly innovative, robotic device that can deploy through a small opening, survey and map the space, apply insulation in situ and then validate the job done. This unique approach transforms inefficient, cold and draughty properties into warm and cosy homes at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional methods. It also minimises disruption for the occupants and can reduce energy bills by as much as 1/4, saving hundreds of pounds. This has resulted in Q-Bot acquiring significant clients in the social housing sector, including Camden Council, Cardiff City Council, CityWest Homes, Islington Council and Peabody.
Mathew Holloway, CEO and Co-Founder: “The support of our investors combined with co-funding from the EU Commission’s H2020 program, has enabled Q-Bot to secure the accreditation critical to our customers and partners including a BBA Agrément Certificate and CE Mark. Q-Bot is now poised to roll out the service across the UK and capitalise on successful trials in France and the US. This new investment will allow Q-Bot to accelerate growth and put in place the infrastructure required to deliver the service across the millions of homes that need it. Q-Bot has already created dozens of jobs and insulated hundreds of homes, but our goal is to have an impact on a global scale, by transforming the construction industry with smarter solutions.”
Cornel Chirac, Chicago Booth Angels: “We are impressed by Mathew and his team’s vision for the future and Q-Bot’s accomplishments to date. Chicago Booth Angels Network is proud to support Q-Bot in solving a real problem through the use of technology for people in the UK and beyond.”
Q-Bot’s under floor insulation service has been awarded the highly prized British Board of Agrément (“BBA”) accreditation for the construction industry. The BBA Agrément Certificate Number 17/5440i1 covers Q-Bot’s suspended timber floor insulation service for domestic and non-domestic buildings. The service is delivered using a robotic device called ‘SprayBot’ which can crawl under old homes and insulate the floor from below, a job which is generally impossible for a human being (as floor voids are typically 12” deep).
This new, highly innovative service creates skilled jobs in the building sector, since the task of insulating under floors was previously impractical and cost prohibitive. At the same time, the resultant energy and cost savings generate one of the quickest paybacks of all insulation measures, creating a very appealing win-win for everybody.
Q-Bot’s under floor insulation service was put through its paces by the BBA in the lab and onsite to demonstrate compliance with the Building Regulations. Working with the BBA, Q-Bot developed a detailed training program and a fully accountable quality management system to ensure each install is delivered consistently and to the highest standards. The accreditation also opens up opportunities for government funding through schemes such as ECO helping to fund the roll out of the service.
Mathew Holloway, CEO of Q-Bot: “The award of the BBA Agrément Certificate demonstrates that Q-Bot’s process of insulating the floor is robust, meets all the requirements of the Building Regulations and can be consistently and reliably applied across millions of homes in the UK. The unique solution allows the whole process to be recorded, complete with a survey of the area and depth of insulation to ensure the quality of the job done. The service will also have a fantastic impact on local communities, generating employment as well as reducing fuel poverty and CO2 emissions. The BBA Certificate will enable us to deliver these impacts at scale across the UK and overseas.”
Q-Bot is a high tech, high growth, international start-up, developing robotics and intelligent systems that will revolutionise the built environment, looking to hire a number of new recruits to join a multidisciplinary product development team:
Senior Embedded Software Engineer (C++, Linux) to own the software development program, it’s architecture, and shape the future direction of the company’s products.
A Research Manager to lead the companies research and development program, creating cutting edge new technology and helping to identify the next big thing!
A Junior or Mid-Level Embedded Software Engineers working with C++ and Linux to develop control systems for the robots and related systems.
Research Engineers with a background in robotics or software focusing on Robotics (C++, ROS, SLAM, Mapping) or Vision and AI (C++, Vision, Mapping, Deep Learning, etc).
Q-Bot will exhibit again at CIH Housing taking place at Manchester Central from the 27th to the 29th of June. We will also deliver a seminar about turning challenges in the sector into opportunities (promoted by a rather mysterious banner below):
The role of new technology in improving stock and creating new sources of revenue
In light of the relentless squeeze on social landlord budgets with the 1% rent reduction eating into funds, new and innovative approaches are required for cost-effectively managing stock and generating revenue.
Landlords have so far tried to adapt in various ways – by cutting costs, reducing maintenance frequency or increasing for-sale housing developments.
Social landlords are amongst the most trusted institutions in the UK and have the capacity to engage with the public and internal resources to deliver services beyond their own stock. Can this be leveraged to provide new sources of revenue?
This seminar explores the ways in which social landlords can adopt new technologies and diversify their operations to improve their own stock in the most cost effective manner as well as boosting their revenue.
Reducing the cost and improving the quality of surveys, maintenance and energy efficiency measures can help Social Landlords retain financial viability but this can also be combined with increased revenue and profits. To find out how make sure you don’t miss our seminar on Wednesday at 12:50 at the Ideas Exchange and visit the Q-Bot at stand D53 to learn more.
Late on Wednesday the 31st of May Q-Bot was hosted by the Science Museum for the once-a-month late night opening. The team got to meet general public and show off the SprayBot in the great setting of the Flight Zone full of aviation history.
Research undertaken by Professors Chris Gorse & David Johnston of Leeds Beckett University demonstrated that Q-Bot’s underfloor insulation can reduce heat loss from existing homes by 1/4.
Coheating and air tightness tests as well as thermographic surveys were undertaken at a Wakefield District Housing property before and after the installation of floor insulation by Q-Bot. A coheating test is the most in-depth heat loss assessment available – an unoccupied home is continuously kept at a target temperature (normally 25 degrees) by metered electrical heaters for a period of at least two weeks with all other conditions, such as humidity, external temperatures and wind speed, monitored closely. At the end of the test the energy consumed is calculated and compared, taking into account temperature differences between inside and outside. This is the most practical test available as it evaluates performance of real building elements over an extended period of time and provides more accurate results than building performance modelling. A 42 W/K improvement in the heat loss coefficient was measured form 177 W/K before and 135 W/K after the floor insulation. This represents a 24% improvement in the energy use of the building.
Airtightness tests involve pressurising the building with a fan mounted in the front door to establish its air permeability (leakiness) at higher pressure; it provides the number of cubic meters of air pumped into the property per hour to keep the pressure at 50 Pascals, divided by each square meter of its external fabric. This test helps to evaluate the reduction in overall building leakiness following the installation of floor insulation by Q-Bot. In this case air permeability dropped from 18.3 m3/m2.h @ 50Pa to 11.2 m3/m2.h; this represents a 39% improvement.
Q-Bot was featured on BBC Radio 4 Panorama, BBC News online and BBC Twitter as part of the debate about insulating the UK’s 25 million homes. The coverage followed a widely cited report by the UK Green Building Council about the built environment related challenges facing the Government’s CO2 reduction targets, with over 80% of the houses in 2050 having been already built. This realisation shifts the challenge from new construction to retrofitting of existing homes, a subject which recent Governments have shied away from.
UK GBC is clear that game changing innovation is required from the construction sector to deliver retrofits effectively and efficiently and point out Q-Bot as an example of successful implementation of this:
Ms Hirigoyen called for support for innovation amongst builders. The GBC pointed to a firm, Q-Bot, which insulates people's floors by sending robots to creep under people's floorboards and spray them with foam.
The firm's head, Mathew Holloway, told BBC News: "We have to find new ways of doing things. Normal refurbishment often means literally tearing a home apart.
"That means local authorities having to re-house tenants whilst it's being done. With our robot, we can seal and insulate wooden floors without touching the inside of the house."
Link to the news story:
Under-floor insulation with robots has just got easier (with a reduced waiting time). Q-Bot has site tested it’s 6th generation of SprayBots which are faster, more robust and easier to control than the previous, 5th generation. The outgoing robotic spray hardware will continue it’s useful life as training robots, installation back up and a mobile platform for testing additional sensors and actuators.
The Mk6 SprayBots are pictured without the spray nozzle (hence empty platform) or the spray tether that connects the nozzle to the spray foam reactor (which is responsible for supplying the perfect mix of two part insulation foam and resides in the Q-Bot van).
The new generation of SprayBots will allow Q-Bot to fulfil the fast growing volume of orders for the floor insulation service.
We’ve had a great Homes Show at Kensington Olympia, including a very busy stand, overattended seminar and many attendees coming to play with our SprayBot (yes, it is very easy to control).
Dominic, our Head of Sales and Penny one of the new SprayBots at stand H63 after a very busy day
Robots deployed in the London Borough of Camden to install insulation without disruption, making homes warmer and reducing energy bills.
You wouldn’t normally expect robots and social housing to coexist in the same sentence let alone in real life - yet this is what is happening in the London Borough of Camden. Q-Bot, working with Camden Council, is using robots to insulate the floors underneath older properties and reduce heat loss. Improving not only the energy efficiency of the homes it owns, but also the comfort of the tenants living there.
Many of the homes in Camden are older period properties and are therefore relatively inefficient, losing a lot of heat and costing a fortune to keep warm. They are also mostly located in conservation areas making other energy saving measures such as wall insulation or improved windows expensive or impossible to apply. This leaves the suspended timber floor as the next area to consider but the traditional insulation methods are too cumbersome – requiring the removal of furniture, carpets and floorboards just to start the job, then laborious cutting of insulation board to fit between the joists and, since the old floor joists are warped and twisted, the end result is far from perfect.
Camden Council first trialled the Robotic Insulation service in March 2014 and the results were more than encouraging. Detailed monitoring has shown that heat loss through the floor was reduced by 78% and cold air infiltration was eradicated (reducing infiltration into the house by over 60%).
This resulted in a very happy tenant who now enjoys a cosy, comfortable and efficient Victorian home which looks no different to the cold, draughty and impossible to heat house she lived in the previous winter. Ms Chapman didn’t have to move out, suffer construction work or change her habits to achieve this transformation. Following the installation she stated: “I am absolutely delighted. My flat has never been described as cosy before. It is warm, quieter, and there are less cold draughts.”
When it comes to Camden Council, the benefit of the underfloor insulation service by Q-Bot is not only the only high impact energy efficiency measure that can be deployed to many older buildings without altering the façade of the building or suffering intrusive construction work, it is also one of the most cost effective. Analysis shows that the savings cover the costs in half the time compared to solid wall insulation.
Mathew Holloway, the CEO of Q-Bot said: “Not having to move the tenants out is the key advantage as it makes the job significantly easier and cheaper. No requirement to significantly refurbish the house is also very helpful as this saves on disruption and the usual cost and time overruns. We also don’t have to put up scaffolding required for external wall insulation and don’t generate any site waste which is obviously beneficial. The installation makes a real difference immediately so tenants are more comfortable which makes getting them signed on is easy. In conservation areas planning permission is also an issue which we avoid. So we think it makes a pretty compelling case for properties like these.”
Q-Bot, the UK’s leading robotics provider specialising in the construction and energy industry, announces a close of £305k of investment through ClearlySo, Wroxall and Minerva Investors Group of Business Angels, and Curious White. Q-Bot will leverage the investment with €2.13m from the EU Commission’s H2020 Programme as part of the highly competitive SME Instrument programme over the next two years bringing total funding to £2m. The new funds will help to scale up and deploy the world’s most sophisticated robotics technology for building insulation whilst delivering the benefits of warmer, more energy efficient homes to a greater number of customers and prepare the company for growth.
Q-Bot provides robotic solutions for the built environment for the construction, maintenance, and upgrade of buildings and industrial assets. These intelligent tools allow workers to remotely inspect and carry out a range of operations in hard to reach areas, such as crawl spaces, at height, or where there are other hazards, making human access undesirable. The robots can survey these spaces, building a detailed 3D map, gather environmental conditions, identify and locate services, faults and other hazards in order to plan servicing and maintenance. The robots can also carry out a range of operations including applying treatments such as insulation, protective finishes and other measures.
Matthew Vickerstaff, ClearlySo’s Head of Investment Banking commented, “Our investor network, Clearly Social Angels, was pleased to invest in Q-Bot; a company that encapsulates so many aspects of what is important to us – improving people’s living conditions with a clever, cost-effective solution that the Housing Associations want to buy – led by a professional management team.”
Mathew Holloway, CEO & Co-Founder: “The construction industry still relies on many labour intensive processes which have not changed for 100’s of years. Our vision is to create intelligent tools that empower people, upskilling the workforce, creating new jobs, making the operation safer, more productive and rewarding.”
“We have built a great team, proven the technology works, demonstrated that customers value our offer, and we are now working with partners to scale this innovative new service across the UK, France and further afield. This investment provides a step change in our approach, whilst validating the potential of the business to transform the construction and energy industry into a multi-billion pound market.“
Q-Bot’s initial focus is to use a robot to apply insulation in under floor voids in the 18 million homes in Northern Europe with suspended floors. The service transforms inefficient, cold and draughty homes into warm and cosy places in which to live and work. Q-Bot’s service is a fraction of the cost, time, disruption and hassle of traditional methods while reducing energy bills by hundreds of pounds. It dramatically reduces fuel poverty at a much lower cost than traditional retrofit measures and has resulted in Q-Bot acquiring significant clients in the social housing sector, including Camden Council, Cardiff City Council, CityWest Homes, Islington Council and Peabody. This investment will enable Q-Bot to insulate more floors, much more quickly and discussions are under way to roll-out installations at scale.
Tom Lipinski, Director & Co-Founder said: “People seem to treat robotic technologies as a threat – but our robots are intelligent tools that enable us to bring immediate benefits to: customers (warmer, more energy efficient homes without the usual [or expected] disruption and eye watering costs), workers (we let the robot crawl under the floor and spray insulation whilst controlling it remotely) and the environment (less damage to homes, no construction waste, and lower energy use). We expand human capabilities - improving lives, reducing energy costs and helping the environment – all at an acceptable price.”
We have just completed our move to a new office and workshop so please note that Q-Bot no longer resides in Block F of Riverside Business Centre in Wandsworth. We have now taken on a whole Block in the same location and the new address is: Block G, Riverside Business Centre, Bendon Valley, Wandsworth, London SW18 4UQ.
Building Technology of the Year
Winner: Q-Bot - Retrofitting with Robot
Q-Bot is introducing advanced robotics into the world of insulation. In another highly competitive category, the judges were blown away by this highly innovative technology and its ability to slash insulation costs by up to 75 per cent while improving the efficiency of some of our coldest homes by up to a quarter.
One of the problems with energy efficiency is that for the average person, it's not a very exciting topic. Trying to convince people to spend their time, and money, considering insulation projects that are often expensive and disruptive to install, is a tall order. Added to that, much of the low-hanging fruit in the sector - such as loft insulation - has already been rolled out, yet millions of "hard to treat homes" up and down the country needing more expensive or complicated retrofits are still leaking energy throughout the year.
In this context Q-Bot's roving robot is something of a master stroke, tapping into our love of gadgets while tackling the sobering topics of energy efficiency and fuel poverty. Any invention that can hit those two hot political topics in one neatly packaged piece of British robotics is destined for big things.
UK Robotics Company insulating Social Homes is named The Best Start-up at the Invention and Entrepreneurship in Robotics Awards held in Seattle, USA
We are delighted to announce that Q-Bot Ltd is the winner of the IEEE Invention and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation Award for 2015. This was announced in Seattle at the IEEE/IFR Joint Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation (IERA) on the 28th May, in front of over 2700 US and international delegates.
The winning pitch at the IEEE/IFR conference in Seattle was presented by Tom Lipinski, a founding director of Q-Bot and serial entrepreneur. The judges at the event were impressed not just by the cutting-edge robotics technology developed in-house and applied in practice but by the positive social impact of the company - improving the lives of people on low incomes and in fuel poverty.
Tom Lipinski said: “A UK Start-up winning the World Entrepreneurship in Robotics Award might sound odd – we consider Japan as the leader in Robotics and US in enterprise. Yet very little of the current Robotics know-how is being actively applied to real life problems, especially in the US. Yes we are at the forefront of robotic vision, image fusion, localization and mapping but it is the impact we have that makes this the most rewarding job on the planet: helping reduce fuel poverty and improving lives while saving energy and the environment. This wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t cost effective but thanks to the cutting-edge technology, it is - we have a number of Social Housing clients who prove it.”