How are robots used in a lab? 7 Applications of laboratory robotics

Lab Automation
6. Nov 2023
Automated systems, once confined to manufacturing, have found their place in laboratories worldwide. In this article, we show examples of how robots are used in a laboratory setting or how a fully automated lab works.

Introduction to laboratory robotics

Laboratory robotics, often referred to as lab automation, represents the integration of technology and precision in scientific experiments. This innovation encompasses a wide range of tasks within the laboratory, from simple pipetting to complex DNA sequencing.

Applications of laboratory robotics

With an emphasis on precision and repeatability, lab robotics has opened up new possibilities for scientists across various disciplines. 

1. Automated sample handling

One of the main tasks in any laboratory is sample handling. Whether it’s handling delicate tissue samples or managing numerous microplates, laboratory robotics ensures consistency and accuracy. 

Automated systems can precisely transfer samples, reducing the risk of contamination and human error. This is crucial in fields like genomics and drug discovery, where even the smallest mistake can have significant consequences.

2. Accelerating high-throughput screening with lab robotics

In drug discovery, high-throughput screening is a process that involves testing thousands of compounds for potential drug candidates. Laboratory robotics excel in this application, as they can conduct these tests rapidly and with high precision. This has led to the discovery of new drugs and therapies at an unprecedented pace, benefiting healthcare and pharmaceutical industries worldwide.

3. Management of hazardous substances

Robots can play a helpful role to ensure a secure working environment in the laboratory. Automated systems can handle hazardous materials and perform dangerous tasks, reducing the exposure of researchers to potential risks. This application is particularly valuable when working with toxic substances or infectious agents.

4. Data analysis with robotic lab software

In the age of big data, the ability to process and analyze large datasets quickly is essential. Laboratory robotics have stepped in to address this challenge by automating data collection and analysis. Researchers can now rely on lab automation software to generate precise results, speeding up the research process and enabling data-driven decision-making.

5. Advancements in precision medicine

The field of precision medicine relies on tailoring medical treatments to individual patients based on their genetic makeup and specific needs. Robots have played a crucial role in advancing this field by automating DNA sequencing and analysis in the lab. This enables clinicians to make more accurate diagnoses and prescribe personalized treatment plans, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

6. Robots exploring space

Laboratory robotics aren’t confined to Earth’s laboratories alone. They have found applications in space exploration, where human presence is limited. Robotic systems can perform experiments and gather data in extraterrestrial environments, expanding our understanding of the universe.

7. Total lab automation

Total lab automation involves the integration of various automated systems within a laboratory, creating a seamless and highly efficient workflow. This approach significantly reduces turnaround times for experiments and enhances overall productivity.

In a fully automated laboratory, tasks such as sample preparation, analysis, and data reporting are interconnected and managed by robotic systems. This level of laboratory robotics increases the efficiency and speed of conducting experiments. Less human intervention also reduces the likelihood of errors, leading to more reliable results.

Typical tasks of a laboratory robot

Laboratory robots are adept at handling a wide range of repetitive tasks within a lab setting. 

These tasks may include:

  • measuring precise volumes of liquids,
  • mixing reagents,
  • precise dosing 
  • and dispensing samples. 

Laboratory robots excel in accurately measuring liquids and reagents. This capability is crucial for experiments where even slight variations in volume can affect the results. Mixing solutions with precision is another task where lab robots shine. They can ensure thorough and consistent mixing. Automated mixing not only saves time but also reduces the risk of human error. Furthermore, lab robots can dispense precise volumes, eliminating the variability associated with manual dispensing. 

Solutions for laboratory robotics

When it comes to modular automation solutions for laboratory robotics, ESSERT Robotics stands out with their ADVANCED Robotic Workstation lab solution. This innovative solution is the ideal choice for lab automation, performing tasks such as dispensing, mixing, and measuring with precision tailored to the needs of the lab setting.

Nevertheless, laboratories often have unique requirements. Our lab automation system can be easily customized to meet those needs: The modular design allows for flexibility in robot use and scalability, making it a seamless fit for labs with expanding processes.

FAQs about applications of robots in the lab

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Read more about automation and laboratories:

What is lab automation?
Laboratory robotics simply explained
Lab automation software
Process automation simply explained
Pharmaceutical automation: Innovations driving an industry