IBM has built a chemistry lab entirely in the cloud

IBM has launched an innovative chemical laboratory, RoboRXN, in which people, in principle, do not come into contact with substances and equipment. They do not physically move to the laboratory to work, its doors are always closed. Access to all systems is carried out through a cloud service, and the experiments are directly performed by robots.

The idea is to protect scientists from the risks of working with chemicals while at the same time unifying access to complex equipment. A specialist from anywhere in the world connects to RoboRXN via a web browser and sets the skeletal structure of molecular compounds according to his task. Artificial intelligence studies the request, selects the necessary components and gives the command to the robot, which conducts the experiment itself. The output is a photo and video of the result, plus data from measuring devices.

Experiment simulation interface

Today, the development of a new drug costs an average of $ 10 million and 10 years of work, most of which consists of routine, repetitive procedures for synthesizing and studying new formulations. This is unforgivably time-consuming and largely human-driven, which is why this is where AI can be of greatest help. Firstly, due to automation, the pace of experiments will accelerate, and secondly, as statistical information accumulates, AI will be able to predict the results and flexibly change the program for searching for new drugs.

During the pandemic, it became clear that, as in the hospital of orderlies, the laboratories are in dire need of junior-level staff - laboratory assistants and assistants. Living people prefer not to take risks and remain in isolation, but do you need to conduct work on finding a cure somehow?

Automated laboratories are seen as a promising solution for such tasks, and the very possibility of remote and safe synthesis of new molecules is the key to the development of new directions in chemistry.