What’s New in Robotics? 04.11.2022


Information briefs for the week check out robots and cobots in automated and semi-automated laboratories, in what’s now referred to as Pharma 4.0. From drug discovery, to the manufacturing and packaging of recent prescribed drugs, the wedding of AI and robotics has been essential to the method. It’s a brand new world for robots and cobots, and they’re proving themselves as much as the duty, after which some.


Robots & cobots provide Pharma 4.0

Robots and cobots, an increasing number of, are starting to exert an outsized influence on life-saving and disease-preventing new drug discoveries, medicines, and therapeutics.

Robot in the pharma industryThough specialised laboratory robots have been round for the reason that Eighties when Zymark Company first launched them, uptake has been sluggish. “The pharmaceutical business has been gradual to undertake robotic know-how in contrast with its manufacturing friends,” writes Lars Olsen in TechTalk. “However with the FDA encouraging using progressive applied sciences, it’s solely a matter of time earlier than using robotics in biotech goes from first-mover to plain.”

Moderna, for instance, leaned closely on robots to fulfill its COVID-19 vaccine deadlines. Dave Johnson, chief information and synthetic intelligence officer at Moderna, recollects Moderna’s conversion to digital: “One of many large bottlenecks was having mRNA for the scientist to run checks in. So, what we did is we put in place a ton of robotic automation, put in place lots of digital techniques and course of automation and AI algorithms as effectively.” 

The digital transformation of those labs by way of automated, AI-driven robotics is being referred to as Pharma 4.0 (sound acquainted?)

Right here’s a video overview of laboratory transformation:


Seems, pharma, therapeutics, and biomedicine labs are good locations for robots and cobots. Robots and cobots provide tireless labor and error-free productiveness that’s quicker, extra correct, and cheaper than people.

For instance, German biotechnology firm Evotec, introduced a brand new anticancer molecule from its work with UK-based Exscientia that applies synthetic intelligence (AI) strategies to small-molecule drug discovery. A discovery made potential partly to robots that minimize pattern testing from 4 to five years to eight months.

In a single rising discipline, robots and AI are starting to associate to swiftly course of thousands and thousands of molecules whereas looking for transformative new remedies by way of digital biology. One pharma-tech firm, XtalPi, is even including quantum physics to the AI, robotic discovery search.

In lots of instances, if it weren’t for robots, therapeutics reminiscent of Evotec’s wouldn’t be saving lives for an additional 4 to five years.

And the near-term future for robots and cobots in labs appears even brighter. Actually, the forecast is close to mind-boggling. The ten-year bounce from 2020 to 2030 sees practically a tripling of commercial robotic and cobot gross sales within the U.S. (see chart beneath).

U.S. Pharmaceutical robots market

Worldwide, in response to Grandview Analysis, “the worldwide pharmaceutical robots market measurement was valued at $162.7 million in 2021 and is anticipated to broaden at a compound annual development price (CAGR) of 9.2% from 2022 to 2030.

“The rising want for automation in manufacturing models, coupled with the excessive prices of recent drug discovery, is considerably rising the demand for robotics in medical trials, drug discovery, and laboratories for automating the procedures.

“As well as, key corporations are introducing technologically superior robotic machines, which has additional led to the great development of the market. With rising calls for for precision, output, and quicker turnaround occasions, automation and robotics have gained traction within the pharmaceutical business.”

There’s an ever-growing checklist of these within the AI drug discovery house shortly onboarding robots to raised allow and speed up the method: Recursion Prescribed drugs, Arctoris, Insitro, Relay Therapeutics, and Insilico Drugs are the pioneers within the discipline of AI and robotic laboratory partnering.

There’s additionally an ever-growing checklist of robotic and cobot distributors, like Turin-based Comau and Stäubli Robotics, Horgen, Switzerland, amongst a dozen others, which are both shortly adapting present robots for lab work or creating fully new robots to fulfill the burgeoning wants of Pharma 4.0.

PACK EXPO Worldwide 2022
After all, testing for, discovery, and perfecting any laboratory product doesn’t finish there. Like every other product, it nonetheless must be manufactured, packaged and shipped to clinics and hospitals in want. Pharma 4.0 goes past the lab…and so do the robots and cobots as effectively.

Staubli at Pack Expo 2022PACK EXPO Worldwide 2022, which simply concluded in Chicago (October 23-26), had a large 70,000 sq. foot pavilion devoted to life sciences packaging for corporations which are manufacturing prescribed drugs, biologics, nutraceuticals, and medical gadgets.

Stäubli Robotics highlighted its TX2-60 Stericlean robotic for pharmaceutical manufacturing and packaging on the Pack Expo.  The Stericlean is a line of robots appropriate for Grade A, B and C environments. The robotic has a totally enclosed construction with customized seals to attenuate penetration of airborne particles.

The Stericlean is designed to be versatile for drug supply codecs together with vials, IV luggage, syringes, cartridges, and transdermal gadgets.

And the Stericlean is totally proof against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) cleansing procedures. With the robotic’s particular joints and enclosed IP65 construction, Stericlean robots are designed to deal with decontamination processes in Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide (VHP) environments.


Industrial robotic and cobot developer, Comau, can also be making a splash for the laboratory market house with the introduction of its Racer-Comau robot5 SE (Delicate Environments). Racer-5 SE is a high-speed industrial robotic transformed “particular and delicate settings” that characterize the pharmaceutical, well being and wonder, meals and beverage and electronics industries.

The Comau lab robotic incorporates a protecting water, warmth and grease-resistant coating, has ruggedized 6-axis articulated robotic arm totally that qualifies for IP67 certification (signifies waterproof plus safety towards mud over prolonged time period, high-grade ISO 5 Cleanroom classification (ISO 14644-1), safety from chemical brokers and the necessity to cut back the chance of contamination. It additionally has NSF H1 meals grade lubrication.

Comau says that its Racer-5 SE addresses the precise want for velocity, accuracy and repeatability inside cleanrooms and different delicate environments.


What about people?
Connor W. Coley, assistant professor of chemical engineering at MIT, says advances made in pursuit of the autonomous laboratory reveal the important significance of the human aspect.

“People are at all times going to set the design goal and specify one thing that an algorithm can cut back to a numerical optimization,” Coley says. “People will at all times be setting the big-picture objective” by way of rounds of interrogation.


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