Liverpool Mobile Robot Scientist
Intelligent mobile robot scientist now being used at the University of Liverpool.
08:40 22 July 2020
A team of scientists at the University of Liverpool has designed an intelligent mobile robot with built-in capability to carry out experiments by itself. The system, which is based on a Kuka collaborative robot, can make its own decisions on which chemistry experiments to do next. It is hoped to be utilised in new drug formulations and discovery of new materials for clean energy production.
The robot, which uses a combination of laser scanning and touch feedback for positioning, has carried out 688 experiments over eight days. It carries out a wide range of tasks independently and is able to quantify the reaction products with no supervision.
Liverpool University PhD student Dr Benjamin Burger, who built and programmed the robot, said: The biggest challenge was to make the system robust. To work autonomously over multiple days, making thousands of delicate manipulations, the failure rate for each task needs to be very low. But once this is done, the robot makes far fewer mistakes than a human operator."
Professor Andrew Cooper, who led the project, said: "Our strategy here was to automate the researcher, rather than the instruments. This creates a level of flexibility that will change both the way we work and the problems we can tackle. This is not just another machine in the lab; it's a new superpowered team member, and it frees up time for human researchers to think creatively."