A UK robotics startup called Q-Bot has won a major international award from the Invention and Entrepreneurship in Robotics and Automation Awards held in the US, beating off competition from across the world.
The firm, based in south west London, has created a robot that makes it simpler and more cost-efficient to insulate homes by applying insulation material to floorboards, something that is usually time-consuming and expensive.
“Insulating the suspended timber floors of the UK’s six million pre-1919 properties is currently a highly disruptive and difficult task,” the Q-Bot website explains.
“With Q-Bot a robot can be inserted through an air vent, deploy[ed] within the void and, without even needing to enter the property, apply insulation to the underside of the floorboards. This keeps the floor warm while still allowing the ground to breath.”
The judges at the awards were impressed by the idea, as it employs cutting-edge robotics technology to deliver a clear benefit that could save homes £200 to £300 a year on household energy bills.
Tom Lipinski, founder and director of Q-Bot, said that it is a great achievement for the firm and showed that the UK robotics industry is a force to be reckoned with on the international stage.
“A UK startup winning a world entrepreneurship award in robotics might sound odd. We consider Japan as the leader in robotics and the US the leader in enterprise,” he said.
“However, very little of current robotics is being applied in real life, especially in the US. With Q-Bot we are helping to reduce fuel poverty and improve lives while saving energy and helping the environment.”
Q-Bot has held trials of its technology with organisations including Camden Council, Peabody and CityWest Homes, and is now talking to private investors about securing more funding to help find more companies that could benefit from its technology.
Lipinski also praised the support the firm has received from the government’s Innovate UK startup funding initiative in helping the company get off the ground, with funding of around £700,000 given to the firm.
“None of this would have happened without Innovate UK. We identified the problem through the Retrofit for the Future programme, and Innovate UK has supported us at every stage since, from proof of concept to where we are now," he said.
"It’s allowed us to sit down and look at all the options, all the consequences and all the risks.”
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