Open-source lab robot makes bioautomation accessible for all

Automation and robotics

Lab automation company Opentrons has launched the Opentrons Flex robot. The company says that these are affordable and easy-to-programme liquid-handling lab robots which are designed to level the playing field for labs of all sizes and bring advanced lab automation to more researchers.

Fusing advanced robotics with open-source software, the Flex is compatible with AI tools and has near-limitless potential to learn new protocols.

Opentrons says that while legacy laboratory robotics require extensive software knowledge and months of training, the Flex has an open-source design and accessible application programming interface (API), especially useful for scientists advancing generative AI.

The Flex is designed to be compatible with ‘design-of-experiment’ programs, including AI-driven agents. And as more scientists contribute applications to the platform, Opentrons can train its AI algorithms to enable more seamless automation.

“For far too long, scientists have been constrained by their laboratory tools – a problem that cumbersome and expensive traditional automation tools have yet to solve affordably and efficiently,” said Jon Brennan-Badal, CEO of Opentrons. “By making lab automation as easy as using a smartphone, the Flex robot democratises access to automation in life sciences research.”

The Flex robot’s modular hardware and software tools can simplify lab automation, reduce errors, and make reproducible research possible, for the field of molecular biology in particular. At launch, the Flex will have several flagship configurations built with genomics and proteomics workflows in mind.

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