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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 latest 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, increasingly, are starting to exert an outsized impression 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 trade has been sluggish to undertake robotic know-how in contrast with its manufacturing friends,” writes Lars Olsen in TechTalk. “However with the FDA encouraging the usage of modern applied sciences, it’s solely a matter of time earlier than the usage of robotics in biotech goes from first-mover to straightforward.”

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

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 excellent locations for robots and cobots. Robots and cobots provide tireless labor and error-free productiveness that’s sooner, 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) methods to small-molecule drug discovery. A discovery made potential partially to robots that minimize pattern testing from 4 to five years to eight months.

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

In lots of circumstances, if it weren’t for robots, therapeutics equivalent to 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 to be like even brighter. The truth is, the forecast is close to mind-boggling. The ten-year bounce from 2020 to 2030 sees practically a tripling of business robotic and cobot gross sales within the U.S. (see chart beneath).

U.S. Pharmaceutical robots market

Worldwide, in keeping with Grandview Analysis, “the worldwide pharmaceutical robots market dimension was valued at $162.7 million in 2021 and is predicted to increase at a compound annual development fee (CAGR) of 9.2% from 2022 to 2030.

“The rising want for automation in manufacturing items, coupled with the excessive prices of latest drug discovery, is considerably growing the demand for robotics in scientific 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 super development of the market. With rising calls for for precision, output, and sooner turnaround occasions, automation and robotics have gained traction within the pharmaceutical trade.”

There’s an ever-growing checklist of these within the AI drug discovery area rapidly onboarding robots to raised allow and speed up the method: Recursion Prescribed drugs, Arctoris, Insitro, Relay Therapeutics, and Insilico Medication are the pioneers within the area 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 rapidly adapting current robots for lab work or creating utterly new robots to satisfy 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 some 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 nicely.

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 reduce penetration of airborne particles.

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

And the Stericlean is totally immune to 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 be making a touch for the laboratory market area 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 contains a protecting water, warmth and grease-resistant coating, has ruggedized 6-axis articulated robotic arm absolutely that qualifies for IP67 certification (signifies waterproof plus safety in opposition to mud over prolonged time frame, high-grade ISO 5 Cleanroom classification (ISO 14644-1), safety from chemical brokers and the necessity to scale 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 essential significance of the human factor.

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



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