E- Robot Competition Info Session and Brainstorm (online event)

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:45pm

The E-ROBOT Prize offers $200,000 each to the 10 teams delivering the best concepts for robots designed to install energy-saving measures in buildings. Watch American Made's video for a quick contest overview. In this session we will looks at the competition as a whole and brainstorm ideas for future exploration. 


Event Details:

This information and ideation session will give you what you need to get a team started and compete in the E-Robot competition. We will have featured speakers:



Government -  Mary Hubbard, The U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office (BTO) Emerging Technologies (ET) Program

Mary Hubbard is the technology-to-market manager within the Building Technologies Office’s (BTO’s) Emerging Technologies Program. In this position, she works across the office to lead BTO’s Technology- to-Market initiative. This includes a number of programs and activities to help researchers and innovators in the buildings space de-risk their technologies, products, and processes to make them more attractive to private investment.


Installer Perspective - Peter Harding, Vice President, MaGrann Associates

MaGrann Associates is a building energy consulting and engineering firm specializing in energy efficiency and green building. Peter leads MaGrann’s operations in the New England region providing insightful support to our clients from the conceptualization to final completion of their high-performance single- and multi-family home projects. Peter founded Home Energy Technologies in 2009 and over the next 11 years built it into the largest HERS rating provider and ENERGY STAR Certified Homes verifier in Connecticut serving developers, owners, and builders of single- and multi-family homes.





Prize Summary

Overview: The E-ROBOT Prize is a 2-phase prize competition offering $4 Million dollars in cash awards for the  development of building envelope retrofit robotic solutions that make retrofits easier, faster, safer and more accessible for workers.

The Goal of E-ROBOT Contest is to invent robots that help retrofit buildings to be more energy efficient. 

Phase 1 Prizes are $200,000 for to each of up to 10 winners for the best concepts and design. Phase 1 winners will advance to Phase 2 to compete for a $2 Million dollar cash prize (split between up to 4 winners).

The problems being solved are:

  • Expense of implementing current solutions.
  • Spaces are often difficult or dangerous for workers to access.
  • Unrealized potential for cost and energy savings.

These solutions domains can be related to any of: 

  • Sensing and Inspection Tools
  • Mapping Tools
  • Retrofit Tools

The Submission Package for Phase 1 must include: 

  • Cover Page (to be made public)
  • Summary Slide (to be made public)
  • 90-second – 2-minute Video (to be made public)
  • Technical Narrative (up to 5 pages using a font that is at least 11 point)
  • Design Specifications (up to 5 pages using a font that is at least 11 point)
  • Optional: Letters of Commitment or Support

The Deadline for teams to a proposal is May 12, 2021 5pm ET.

The Judging is looking for proposals for solutions that are:

  • Holistic
  • Low Cost
  • Minimally Invasive
  • Utilizes Smart Materials
  • Completes Time Efficient, High Quality Installations
  • Provides Opportunities to Workers

Learn More by reviewing the contest website and summary presentation.



The online session agenda will be 

  • 6:00pm - Welcome (5 minutes)
  • 6:05pm - Contest Overview from Emily Evans and Mary Hubbard (15 Minutes) - Mary
  • 6:25pm - Perspective from installer, Peter Harding (10 minutes)
  • 6:30pm - Individual Brainstorming Activity (5 minutes)
  • 6:40pm - Q&A with Peter and Mary (10 minutes)
  • 6:50pm - Idea Sharing and Discussion at Tables (25 minutes)
    • Sensing and Inspection Tools (description below)
      Faciliator: Chris, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Volunteer
    • Mapping Tools (description below) -
      Facilitator: Sam, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Volunteer
    • Retrofit Tools (description below) - Faciliator:  Robert Chambers
  • 7:15pm - Breakout faciliators summarize table talk (5 minutes)
  • 7:20pm - 30 second Mini Pitchs to Group / Contact Sharing and Team Matching in Chat (15 minutes)
  • 7:35pm - Closing advice and next steps (resources at MakeHaven to prototype)


Idea Sharing and Discussion Table Topic Detail

  • Sensing and Inspection Tools. Nondestructive and fast inspection techniques to assess and identify envelope defects (e.g., excessive air infiltration, missing insulation, and so on) for pinpointed retrofit and to verify the results post retrofit. Provide real-time information with data visualization for operators and as direct input to the retrofit tool.
  • Retrofit Tools. Semi- or fully autonomous robotic deposition tool to apply minimally invasive techniques to rapidly retrofit building envelopes including, but not limited to, air sealing areas identified by sensing and inspection tools. Ideally, the retrofit tool also addresses insulation deficiencies. In all cases, the tool needs to mitigate any underlying envelope deficiencies related to bulk moisture and vapor control to ensure durable envelopes post retrofit. As an option, the retrofit tool could use any developed mapping tools to automatically direct the retrofit tool in real time.
  • Mapping Tools Mapping of building envelope geometry and envelope defects to be retrofitted with spatial relationships is needed to support the retrofit process. Ideally, envelope mapping tools would be deployed on the retrofit tool and/or sensing and inspection tool. Real-time data visualization will be required to support real-time decisions in the field as mapping, retrofit, and inspection processes are underway. 

Idea Sharing and Discussion at Tables Process

1. Idea Sharing. People break into groups related to their idea (sensing, mapping, retrofit) at tables to share their ideas round robin. The primary tables have a designated faciliator, others are unfaciliated. Each person introduces themselves and shares their concept in 30 seconds covering the format:

  • Challenge/Problem that exists
  • Solution/concept they propose
  • Skills and Resources needed

2. Plan. Once someone has an idea they want to develop they are encouraged to recruit others from group to move indpendently to a table and further develop understanding of the proposed solution and draw a draw a rough sketch using ( built-in whiteboard or https://sketch.io/). Questions to consider in planning:

  • Validation: How will you validate the technical capabilities. Who would you partner with to develop and/or validate your solution? 

  • Productivity: How long will it take for your robot to apply your solution to what area/square footage. 

  • Cost: What is the current cost for this type of retrofit, and how will the proposed solution achieve a 50% cost reduction when compared to the current state of the art? 

  • Worker Benefits: Does your solution offer benefits to workers such as improved safety, improved time efficiency, or increased access to areas previously unavailable? 

  • Commercialization: Who is your target market, and how do you plan to work with your stakeholders (labor unions, trades, industry, building owners, and so on)?  How do you plan to distribute the product. How would you move to commercialization?


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