The robot built by the researchers, who are supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Leverhulme Trust, is the first of its kind and works for 21.5 hours each day, pausing only to recharge its battery.
Reported in the journal Nature, this new technology could tackle problems of a scale and complexity that are currently beyond our grasp. For example, autonomous robots could find materials for clean energy production or new drug formulations by searching vast, unexplored chemical spaces.
Robots have been used before in chemistry research, but they are typically hardwired to a specific experiment. This 1.75-meter tall robot is mobile and can roam around the laboratory, performing a wide range of different tasks.
It can work with equipment designed for human operation because of its human-like dimensions and physical reach. It uses a combination of laser scanning coupled with touch feedback for positioning, rather than a vision system. View more