Robot taught to carry out chemical experiments in a human laboratory

Scientists from the UK, taught a robot to carry out chemical experiments using standard laboratory equipment and glassware. He moves through the lab on a wheeled platform with lidar and working with the tools blindly, realizing their position using high-precision tracking of the manipulator and calibration of each instrument. The developers have demonstrated the capabilities of the robot in practice, with the selection of the optimal excipients for the photocatalytic splitting of water. The robot is able to perform this task, working for eight days, more than 21 hours a day, say the authors of the article in Nature.

A key role in scientific research plays a mental process of proposing hypotheses, planning of experiments and analysis of the data, and while computers and robots are almost unable to replace the scientists and people in these problems. But a substantial part of the time in many scientific papers is a routine process in the lab, which potentially can be automated and thus free up the time of scientists for more complex and creative tasks.

Scientists from the University of Liverpool under the leadership of Andrew Cooper (Andrew Cooper) have taught the robot almost fully Autonomous to perform many experiments in chemical laboratories, in which you are tens and hundreds of times to create mixtures or solutions of a given composition and then move bottles between machines.

They used ready-made industrial robot Kuka KMP200, which consists of a large wheeled platform and attached thereto roborate with capture. He focuses in the laboratory using two lidars that allow him to safely travel around the room with high accuracy. But this accuracy is not enough to operate the equipment. Often in these developments the problem has been solved by using computer vision based on cameras.

Cooper and his colleagues decided to use a different approach: they set next to each machine a small hard block. Once the mobile platform is pulled up to the table with need currently tool ramoroka conducts a short calibration, touching the block with different sides several times. This improves the positioning accuracy of the hand with about an inch and 2.5 degrees to 120 microns and 0.005 degrees. The calibration occurs over a few tens of seconds, so it does not affect the speed.

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