Principal investigator: Kaspar ALTHOEFER
Funding source(s): Innovate UK
 Start: 01-01-2018  /  End: 31-03-2020
 Amount: £149,984
Directly incurred staff: Jelizaveta Konstantinova

Project partners: Q-bot LTD

In this project, in collaboration with our partner, Q-bot, a London-based robotic company, we aim to design, manufacture and validate robust, soft robots to remotely apply insulation below the ground floor of domestic dwellings.  For this new project with Q-bot, QMUL team will extend the methods to develop
octopus-inspired robot tentacles of larger dimensions with the purpose of finding robust solutions for the application ofthermal insulation in built environments especially in areas of restricted access, such as in the void under the house and incavity walls.

Q-Bot specialises in robotics services in the built environment allowing easier, cheaper, safer and more effective repair, maintenance and upgrade of buildings and infrastructure. The initial application is the retrofit of thermal underfloor insulation to buildings at a fraction of the current cost, and with none of the issues of traditional methods using a robot to apply insulation in an environment which is currently inaccessible for human operatives without prohibitive disruption and expense.  This project builds on ground-breaking robotics innovation in the area of soft and flexible robotic manipulators developed by  the Centre for Advance Robotics @ Queen Mary University of London, initially developed for medical applications. It will develop the technology further, with a view of utilising it in extreme and challenging environments of inaccessible areas of buildings. Extensions of the projects will explore the development of robots for infrastructure networks (including sewers) and nuclear site inspection. The project will deliver a stiffness-controllable and flexible robot prototype that will be validated in demanding environments, in collaboration with Q-bot.

During this project the research team will develop a structure of a soft robot for underfloor navigation to apply insulation, using a hybrid actuation method (combining pneumatic and tendon-based actuation) for large scale soft robots, as well as novel motion control algorithms. The research team aims to produce three robot prototypes with increasing capabilities over the period of the project - prototype improvements will be based on the feedback from industrial partners and the results of the field trials.