architecture sustainability

Q-Bot: insulation by robot

When we moved into our current home in Luton, we substantially renovated it. I lifted up the wrecked old carpets left by the previous occupant, and discovered these beautiful timber floors underneath. They were too good to cover up with carpet again, but potentially rather cold. So I removed a couple to see if I could insulate underneath them. It was a very tight space, a matter of inches. I could just about get in, creeping along with my back on the dirt floor and my face among the spider’s webs. The thought of spending days down there, working with itchy rockwool, was too much. I boarded it up again, sealed up the cracks in the boards and left it at that.

What I needed was of course a robot to do the insulation for me. No such thing existed at the time, but it does now. It’s called Q-bot, and it’s designed specifically to drive around in the crawl-space under suspended wooden floors, map the surface and then spray insulation where it’s needed. It can reduce a quarter of the heat loss from a house, as well as stopping draughts. In terms of payback time it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce heating costs and CO2 emissions from older homes.

Q-bot is a new company and is currently working with social housing groups and larger landlords. Once it reaches the rest of us, I’ll be inviting the robots around to finish the job.

HT Ashden Awards, where Q-Bot won award for sustainable buildings.


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