Ro­botic house painter could be a world first

Birmingham Post - - BIRMINGHAM POST BUSINESS AWARDS 2018 - Tom Peg­den Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

IT’S a te­dious job that strikes fear into the heart of even the hardi­est of DIY en­thu­si­asts. Now a pair of Birm­ing­ham-based en­trepreneurs are close to bring­ing the world’s first au­to­mated house­paint­ing ro­bot to mar­ket.

Harry Smith and Jack Cornes have spent the last year work­ing on a ma­chine that can be left to get on with it.

Their Dig­beth-based busi­ness, Haus­bots, has cre­ated a ro­botic pro­to­type which sticks to walls us­ing suc­tion cups as it sprays paint.

Mr Smith came up with the idea of a ro­botic paint­ing ma­chine as he tack­led one of his own walls at home. Now the child­hood friends hope their ro­bots will au­to­mate dec­o­rat­ing and maybe even be adapted to clean or build en­tire houses.

Last year, the 20-year-olds won £20,000 of sup­port from the Bald­wins Kick­Start Young En­tre­pre­neur Awards.

Since then Haus­bots has re­ceived about 100 ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from the likes of house­builders, ware­house man­agers, plas­ter­ers and wind tur­bine man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Orig­i­nally from Rut­land in the East Mid­lands, the duo have moved into premises in Dig­beth’s Cus­tard Fac­tory where they can pre­pare the prod­uct for demon­stra­tions.

Haus­bots has also used the ‘Kick­Start’ in­vest­ment to se­cure a pa­tent on the prod­uct and fund 15 3D print­ers to work on a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als.

Mr Smith said: “We have made great progress in en­sur­ing the prod­uct is op­er­a­tionally re­li­able.

“The prod­uct is now ap­proach­ing the ex­cit­ing stage where we can do site demon­stra­tions to ev­ery­one who has ex­pressed an in­ter­est.”

Un­til their first ma­jor in­vest­ment lands, they are mak­ing a liv­ing by us­ing their 3D print­ers to pro­duce pro­to­types for a va­ri­ety of start-up busi­nesses.

Mr Cornes said: “We’re aim­ing to be out demon­strat­ing the prod­uct us­ing a joy­stick by the end of this year and to be demon­strat­ing a fully au­tonomous ver­sion shortly after­wards. This is a highly am­bi­tious prod­uct that we are cre­at­ing so we will be launch­ing this at a slow pace to en­sure the prod­uct is right.

“As we ap­proach 2020, all be­ing well, we will be­come self-em­ployed dec­o­ra­tors so we can over­see the per­for­mance of the prod­uct be­fore sell­ing the prod­uct into the main­stream mar­ket.”

David Bald­win, board direc­tor at Bald­wins Ac­coun­tants, has been ad­vis­ing them on the launch of their new busi­ness ven­ture since they won the young en­tre­pre­neur award.

He said: “Haus­bots is at the start of an ex­cit­ing jour­ney and are great ex­am­ples of why we run the awards.

“They have dove­tailed their in­vest­ment with seek­ing ad­vice from our team and have spent their in­vest­ment wisely to give them­selves the best chance of suc­cess with what is a truly in­no­va­tive prod­uct.”

> Haus­bot’s co-founders Jack Cornes and Harry Smith with tech­ni­cian Mah­moud Ibrahim (cen­tre)

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