Intelligent software for laboratory automation

Ross Donald King, Ken Whelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


The automation of laboratory techniques has greatly increased the number of experiments that can be carried out in the chemical and biological sciences. Until recently, this automation has focused primarily on improving hardware. Here we argue that future advances will concentrate on intelligent software to integrate physical experimentation and results analysis with hypothesis formulation and experiment planning. To illustrate our thesis, we describe the 'Robot Scientist' - the first physically implemented example of such a closed loop system. In the Robot Scientist, experimentation is performed by a laboratory robot, hypotheses concerning the results are generated by machine learning and experiments are allocated and selected by a combination of techniques derived from artificial intelligence research. The performance of the Robot Scientist has been evaluated by a rediscovery task based on yeast functional genomics. The Robot Scientist is proof that the integration of programmable laboratory hardware and intelligent software can be used to develop increasingly automated laboratories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-445
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Biotechnology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004


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