MIROB: Automatic rapid identification of micro-organisms in high through-put
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to present a novel microbiological lab robot that facilitates high through-put sample preparation for rapid stateof-the-art identification. Design/methodology/approach - Development concentrated on two main points: research initially focused on various methods for picking a micro-organism colony from a petri dish without any medium adhering; and subsequently on completely documenting sample handling with little effort. Findings - A sensorless system for picking micro-organisms from a petri dish was engineered and prototyped. A documented process in the demonstrator demonstrates its usability even for certified clinical operations. Research limitationslimplications - The handling of solid phase biological objects is only in its infancy. This research focused on the preparation of samples from micro-organism colonies for MALDI-TOF MS. A specific type of gripper was developed to do this. The handling of other biological objects, e.g. from cell cultures or intermediate stages of tissue engineering, is still a largely open field for future research. Practical implications - New analysis methods often only become accepted when the preparatory processes are also taken into account - highly parallel operations (e.g. MALDI-TOF MS) are particularly impractical for humans and difficult for data handling to manage. Given the specific demands, only an interdisciplinary team can adapt the automation engineering successfully. Originality/value - This paper presents an approach to and implementation of the automation of manual operations in biotechnology. It is intended to encourage health professionals, biologists and engineers to jointly research and interdisciplinarily automate complex operations.