Inside the (self-driving) lab of the future


University of Toronto, Canada

The lab of the future is here and it’s self-driving. It’s also faster. It has the power to dramatically reduce the time and cost of bringing advanced materials to market—from an average of 20 years and $100 million to as little as 1 year and $1 million.


Also known as materials acceleration platforms (MAPs), these self-driving labs use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computational modelling to predict which advanced materials or small molecules will have the properties required for a particular application.
A robotic lab then uses these predictions to autonomously synthesize, test and refine new molecules or materials with the target properties. By inverting the usual discovery process, this closed-loop technology allows scientists to first define the desired properties and then work backwards to develop whole families of new materials. Of the nearly infinite number of unique materials that can be synthesized, only a small fraction can be explored through conventional materials discovery approaches. But MAP technology is a game changer, shortening the development time for new advanced materials by an order of magnitude.


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