ECE professor Wolfgang Fink and assistant professor of architecture Jonathan Bean are finalists in the U.S. Department of Energy’s "Envelope Retrofit Opportunities for Building Optimization Technologies Prize," or E-ROBOT Prize. Fink and Bean created wall-EIFS, a robot that can retrofit buildings by installing insulation, thus cutting down carbon emissions. The researchers recently discussed their research in an interview with KOLD.
“Retrofitting the outside of a building is usually very labor-intensive," Fink said in the KOLD piece. "You have to build a scaffold, lots of people have to be on a scaffold, it’s highly manual. So the idea is to replace that with a robotic approach."
The robot can autonomously scan older buildings for thermal leaks where insulation may be required. With real-time image processing, the robot can map the building's exterior and then spray insulation in the required areas.
“The real excitement I feel about this is its potential," Bean said. "It is something that is definitely needed from an environmental, social, and economic perspective."
This achievement comes with a $200,000 prize, which Fink and Bean are donating to the University of Arizona.