Robotics has evolved by leaps and bounds in recent years, and today there are many professional activities that robots can perform more efficiently than humans. Not surprisingly, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), more than four million Spaniards may lose their jobs to robots in the coming years.
However, many of the automated systems, rather than steal work from human employees, are intended to perform heavy or repetitive tasks. In this way, people have more time during their day to dedicate themselves to carrying out more complex functions.
The automaton that we are dealing with today is trained to go one step further and become a great help to researchers. It is a scientific robot that makes its own decisions to assess which experiments have the greatest potential to carry them out.
It has a height of 1.75 meters, weighs 400 kilos and is fully mobile to move around the laboratory at will. It can work for 21.5 hours a day and stops only to charge its battery.
Because it is human in height and has a robotic arm, it can use instruments similar to those used by human researchers. It is capable of autonomously executing all the tasks that a chemical experiment requires, such as weighing solids, dispensing liquids, removing air from a container, executing a catalytic reaction or quantifying the reaction products.
“The robot’s brain uses a search algorithm to navigate a ten-dimensional space of more than 98 million candidate experiments, and decides the best experiment to do next based on the above results,” explains the University of Liverpool at a statement .
The first prototype to be tested has performed 688 experiments over 8 days, working 172 of 192 hours. He has completed 6,500 manipulations in 319 movements, and has discovered a new catalyst six times more active without human intervention.
Andrew Cooper, the professor who has led the project, considers this robot to be a great aid to research. It could be devoted to finding materials for the production of clean energy or the formulation of medicines, among other interesting applications.