American-Made Challenges



Catalyze the development of building envelope retrofit solutions that make retrofits easier, faster, safer and more accessible for workers.

This challenge is closed

$5 Million Dollars in total Cash Awards and Network Support

This challenge is closed



Prize Overview

As part of the American-Made Challenges series, the Envelope Retrofit Opportunities for Building Optimization Technologies (E-ROBOT) Prize unites the world’s best-in-class research base with the unparalleled entrepreneurial support system of the American-Made Network. Consisting of pioneering makerspaces, dozens of energy incubators, universities, and 17 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, the Network is primed to create a sweeping portfolio of innovations to demonstrate the promise of advanced robotics for building envelope retrofits.



Advancements in robotics allow workers to reach places or perform activities that were previously impossible. For example, robots can safely enter small spaces and cavities, such as ductwork, to perform air-sealing or other efficiency activities. Robots can complement and support the existing workforce by creating new employment and business opportunities while also helping to ensure quality and consistency when installing energy efficiency measures.

The overarching goal of E-ROBOT is to catalyze the development of minimally invasive, low-cost, and holistic building envelope retrofit solutions that make retrofits easier, faster, safer, and more accessible for workers. Successful competitors will provide solutions that provide significant advancements in robot technologies that will advance the energy efficiency retrofit industry and develop building envelope retrofit technologies that meet the following criteria:

  • Holistic: The solution must include mapping, retrofit, sensing, and inspection.
  • Low cost: The solution should reduce costs significantly when compared to current state-of-the-art solutions. The target for reduction in costs should be based on a 50% reduction from the baseline costs of a fully implemented solution (not just hardware, software, or labor; the complete fully implemented solution must be considered). If costs are not at the 50% level, there should be a significant energy efficiency gain achieved.
  • Minimally invasive: The solution must not require building occupants to vacate the premises or require envelope teardown or significant envelope damage.
  • Utilizes long-lasting materials: Retrofit is done with safe, nonhazardous, and durable (30+ year lifespan) materials.
  • Completes time-efficient, high-quality installations: The results of the retrofit must meet common industry quality standards and be completed in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Provides opportunities to workers: The solution enables a net positive gain in terms of the workforce by bringing high tech jobs to the industry, improving worker safety, enabling workers to be more efficient with their time, improving envelope accessibility for workers, and/or opening up new business opportunities or markets.

The E-ROBOT Prize provides a total of $5 million in funding, including $4 million in cash prizes for competitors and an additional $1 million in awards and support to network partners. 

Through this prize, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will stimulate technological innovation, create new opportunities for the buildings and construction workforce, reduce building retrofit costs, create a safer and faster retrofit process, ensure consistent, high-quality installations, enhance construction retrofit productivity, and improve overall energy savings of the built environment.


Prize Structure

The E-ROBOT Prize is made up of two phases that will fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and validate disruptive solutions to meet building industry needs. Each phase will include a contest period when participants will work to rapidly advance their solutions. DOE invites anyone, individually or as a team, to compete to transform a conceptual solution into product reality.


Please review the official rules  for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at




Challenge Updates

Congratulations to our E-ROBOT Grand Prize Winners!

April 7, 2022, 3:37 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Congratulations to our E-ROBOT Grand Prize Winners!


Three teams of innovators have been crowned E-ROBOT Prize winners and will evenly split a $2 million cash prize pool. Their high-impact, holistic, and commercially viable robotic solutions are transforming the building industry with technology that will increase the rate of envelope retrofits through safer and more efficient methods. Congratulations to all of the E-ROBOT Prize finalist and the following winners:


  1. RoboAttic & Thermadrone  - Berkeley, California

RoboAttic and Thermadrone

The RoboAttic team has developed a robotic attic vacuum cleaning and air sealing system for inaccessible attics and confined spaces. First, Thermadrone software uses thermal drone camera images to diagnose and identify attic retrofit opportunities. Then, RoboAttic robots vacuum clean and air seal attics quickly, cost-effectively, and safely; this allows for retrofitting inaccessible attics that would not have been air sealed otherwise. Finally, Thermadrone software allows for measurement and verification after retrofit completion, de-risking projects by providing quality assurance.


  1. Unified Retrofits - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Unified Retrofits - Holistic Robotic Retrofits

Unified Retrofits brings together leaders in the retrofit robotics, energy auditing, architecture, and construction fields to address the issues of sensing, mapping, and minimally invasive building envelope retrofits. This team’s user-friendly suite of tools includes: a project management, costing, and ROI software for integrated workflows, UAV and AI powered autonomous anomaly sensing and detection system, and a robotic retrofit tool that can implement minimally invasive envelope remediations such as caulking, aerosol sealing, and foam insulating across all types of existing buildings.


  1. Friendly Robots Company - Oakland, California

The Mayfly and the Aardvark

The Mayfly and the Aardvark is a combination of a semi-autonomous flying quadcopter air duct inspection drone that maps and identifies deficiencies, and a remediation robot that cleans and repairs. Rather than crawling through attics and climbing ladders, workers can deploy the drone, review the gathered information, and dispatch the remediation robot to fix the issues. This new approach prioritizes worker safety and efficiency on the job site.


Read more on 


Happening Tomorrow - E-ROBOT Demo Day!

April 5, 2022, 4:11 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Join us tomorrow for the E-ROBOT Demo Day happening from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eight teams of finalists will debut their prototypes designed to make energy-efficient envelope retrofits easier, faster, safer, and more accessible as they vie for a piece of the $2 million cash prize pool. The interactive event will also feature opening remarks from the U.S. Department of Energy, team meet-and-greets, and an industry panel. Register now for E-ROBOT Demo Day

Then, tune in on April 7 at 1 p.m. ET (please note the time change) for the LIVE announcement of E-ROBOT Prize winners. Save the date now

Join Us for E-ROBOT Demo Day on April 6 and the LIVE Winner Announcement on April 7

March 31, 2022, 9:54 a.m. PDT by NREL

Don’t miss E-ROBOT Demo Day on April 6! Eight teams of finalists will debut their prototypes designed to make energy-efficient envelope retrofits easier, faster, safer, and more accessible as they vie for a piece of the $2 million cash prize pool. The interactive event will also feature opening remarks from the U.S. Department of Energy, team meet-and-greets, and an industry panel. Register now for E-ROBOT Demo Day

Then, tune in on April 7 at 2 p.m. ET for the LIVE announcement of E-ROBOT Prize winners. Save the date now

Register Now! Building Envelope Retrofit Tech Innovation Roundtable

Oct. 21, 2021, 3:33 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Join the E-ROBOT Prize Phase 1 winners on Nov. 19 to as they showcase their unique technical solutions for better building envelope retrofits. This roundtable event will feature live pitches from all 10 of the E-ROBOT Prize Finalist teams as they prepare for Phase 2. The virtual event will conclude with networking sessions with tech innovators and a variety industry of stakeholders. Register now!

Webinar Recording and Slide Now Available

Sept. 16, 2021, 4:14 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Thank you to everyone who attended today's Phase 2 rules webinar! If you missed the presentation, you can watch the recording or view the slides here:  


As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out to us at 




Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Solve this Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals. 

Innovation is about making ideas happen. The American-Made Network will accelerate and sustain solar innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, facilities, and other valuable industry partners from across the U.S. who will engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of Solar Prize competitors.

See who is in the network.

Connectors are the core component of the American-Made Network and are organizations that seek to support the efforts of competitors in the Solar Prize. Use this link to explore the Network to find potential partners and develop relationships.

Power Connector organizations are a core group of Connectors that will work alongside NREL to implement parts of the program and secure additional resources and partners.

Discover who they are and how they will help innovators succeed.

If you encounter an issue when attempting to submit an entry to the challenge, you may need to contact HeroX or the Prize Administrator.

You may try to connect with HeroX using the online form which appears in the bottom right corner of your browser window, it says Leave a Message.

You may also send a message to the Prize Administrator inbox at  

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the Prize Administrator for the American-Made Challenges. In this capacity, NREL works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy to administer the challenges, maintain the website platform, assist in building the network, and pay prize money to the winning teams.

All of your files are uploaded as part of the submission form, access this by clicking the Begin Entry button.  The submission form contains an upload option for each of the required file entries.  Only PDF files will be accepted for upload.

DOE has no intention of gaining rights to any underlying inventions discussed in your submission materials or that you may develop in furtherance of competing in this prize. See Appendix 1 in the official rules for more information regarding submission rights.  

The role of “industrial advisor” is going to vary from team to team. You should think of it as any industry-related partners or advisors who are helping to inform your manufacturing/scaling analysis. These could be manufacturing partners, end-users, others who you are engaging to support your prototype etc.