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Robot scientists will “accelerate discovery”

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Media signatureMeet the socially distant robot scientist

Scientists from the University of Liverpool introduced a robot colleague who worked continuously in their laboratory throughout the closure.

The £ 100,000 programmable researcher learns from his results to refine his experiments.

“It can work autonomously, so I can do experiments from home,”

; said Benjamin Burger, one of the developers.

Such technology could make scientific discovery “a thousand times faster,” say scientists.

A new report by the Royal Society of Chemistry sets out a “national research strategy after Covid” that uses robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced computing as part of a set of technologies that “are urgently needed” to help socially distant scientists do so to help continue their research looking for solutions to global challenges.

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Robo-chemist at work in the Liverpool laboratory

The robot scientist is currently performing a series of tests to find a catalyst that could accelerate the reaction in solar cells.

According to Prof. Andy Cooper, the materials scientist who used the robot in his laboratory, it could be used in the fight against Covid-19.

“We were very interested [in the robot] from laboratories that do Covid research, “he told BBC News.

“Covid, climate change – there are many problems that really require international cooperation. So our vision is that we could have robots around the world that are connected by a central brain that can be anywhere. We don’t have that yet done. ” – that’s the first example – but that’s exactly what we want to do. ”

Socially distant science

In a world in which scientists also have to limit their time in the laboratory and maintain social distance from one another, the robo-scientist has adopted himself today.

“It doesn’t get boring, it doesn’t get tired, it works around the clock and it doesn’t need holidays,” joked Dr. Burger.

Seriously, he said the robot had changed the speed at which it could do research. “It can easily go through thousands of samples,” he said, “and it gives me time to focus on innovation and new solutions.”

Like robotics for space exploration, machines like this could conduct riskier experiments – in harsher laboratory environments or using more toxic substances.

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Media signatureNasa’s Humanoid is designed for more dangerous environments

According to Deirdre Black, Head of Research and Innovation at the Royal Society of Chemistry, British science needs to incorporate new technologies into its infrastructure.

“This is about people using all of these digital technologies to help them work faster – discovering and innovating faster, and exploring larger and more complex issues like decarbonization, disease prevention and treatment, and air pollution improvement,” she told BBC News .

So does this mean that although many scientists were blocked, the machines came to start their work?

“Absolutely not,” said Dr. Black. “Science will always need people”.

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