The machine uses an industrial robotic arm to manipulate equipment made for humans. | Image: University of Liverpool

Researchers have developed what they say is a breakthrough robotic lab assistant, able to move around a laboratory and conduct scientific experiments just like a human.

The machine, designed by scientists from the UK’s University of Liverpool, is far from fully autonomous: it needs to be programmed with the location of lab equipment and can’t design its own experiments. But by working seven days a week, 22 hours a day (with two hours to recharge every night), it allows scientists to automate time-consuming and tedious research they wouldn’t otherwise tackle.

In a trial reported in Nature today, the robot’s creators, led by PhD student Benjamin Burger, say it was able to perform…

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