Machine Vision Systems Enhance Robotic Process Automation in Life Sciences

Robotics IndustryRobotics in Life Sciences Play an Essential Role in Modern Scientific and Commercial Research

Robotics is playing an ever-increasing role in life sciences applications. Not only are robots taking on monotonous tasks and streamlining processes in laboratory settings, they are leveraging advances in vision technology to support medical research.

In the cloning of bacteria, for example, vision technology enables the robot to identify and move the chosen bacteria into a petri dish. It offers a means of identifying the part of the bacteria colony that should be removed for additional processing and that which can be discarded.

Considering the number of specimens being tested on a regular basis and the data collection demands on technicians, robotics offers a more accurate and efficient solution. Robotic systems have the ability to pipette a 96 well plate in 20 seconds without making a mistake or having to take a break. This leaves room for technicians to add value to more complex research tasks.

Robotic automation in clinical labs leverages machine vision to assist in managing medications and biological specimens. Robots with vision capabilities can handle glass medical vials and specimen samples that have colored stoppers. Robots can evaluate whether biological samples are present and if needles containing liquid are unbroken.

On-going innovations in imaging sensor technology are also expanding the possibilities for robotic machine vision applications in the life sciences. New image sensor technologies include:

  • Ultra-high resolution
  • Higher sensitivities for ultra-low-light applications
  • Faster frame rates to capture more detail
  • Specialized RGB-NIR (near-infrared) color filter array that allows for the separation and discrete analysis of the visible and NIR wavelengths

The vision capabilities of robotic systems are only going to expand, which means more opportunities for robotic applications in the life sciences.