Robotic Laboratory Automation

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Science  18 Jan 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5554, pp. 517-518
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5554.517

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The development and patenting of the first industrial robot by Unimation, Inc. in 1961 initiated a technological revolution in robotics that, despite a few fits and starts, has largely paralleled advances in computing. In the last five years, manufacturers have marketed "modular" automation products that appear to be more attractive to clinical laboratories. The new automation modules are directed at specific laboratory functions, including, for example, separate modules for specimen centrifugation and aliquoting, specimen analysis, and post-analytical storage and retrieval. This article discusses the history and current state of the art in laboratory robotics.