University of Liverpool researchers have built an intelligent robot scientist that can work nonstop 24-7 and carry out experiments by itself. This robot can make its own decisions about which chemistry experiments to perform next, has humanoid dimensions and is capable of working in a standard laboratory using instruments just like a human researcher does. Unlike its real-life counterpart, this 881-pound robot can think in 10 dimensions, and works for 21.5 hours each day, pausing just to recharge. Read more for a video and additional information.
It’s so efficient that it conducted 688 experiments over 8 days, working for 172 out of 192 hours. This means it made 319 moves, completed 6,500 manipulations, and traveled a total distance of 1.35-miles. The robot’s brain uses a search algorithm to navigate a 10-dimensional space of more than 98 million candidate experiments. This data is used to decide the best experiment to do next based on the outcomes of the previous ones.
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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,” said University of Liverpool PhD student Dr Benjamin Burger, who built and programmed the robot.