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ITMO Researchers Teach Robots to Run Chemical Experiments

ITMO University experts are creating technological assistants for chemical laboratories that will be able to take over all routine work with no human involvement needed. Right now, the first prototypes are already performing the simplest manipulations. In the future, robotic chemists will be able to run their own research for accumulating large amounts of data and performing primary analysis.

It takes a long time to conduct chemical experiments and analyze their results. Any researcher can mix reagents, but for some experiments these tasks have to be performed hundreds of times with all proportions kept exactly the same.

Moreover, mixing chemicals and noting the results requires a great effort. All of those processes are similar in the fact that they require repetitions of mostly the same actions with slight differences in variables.

ITMO University researchers have made the decision to delegate some of these processes to an autonomous chemical platform that can transport samples, determine the proportion of chemicals, record the resulting reactions, analyze them, and predict the potential outcome.

The main difference of the platform from other existing technologies is the use of a neural network that will learn as it works with chemicals. The first working prototype with the necessary software is currently in development.

Another robot will be responsible for creating mixtures and solutions. This manipulator can work at a lab and mix chemicals on its own. It will know when the processes are finished and stop its manipulations accordingly. This digital lab assistant is now only learning the simplest actions but it can already move test tubes and take off lids.”

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