JC Boyd, RA Felder and J Savory. Robotics and the changing face of the clinical laboratory. Clinical Chemistry 42: 1901-1910, 1996
Rapid changes in healthcare coupled with parallel advances in technology have stimulated the evolution of new approaches for laboratory automation. In particular, the emergence of commercially available laboratory robotic systems offers promise for streamlining the clinical laboratory. Increasing cost-containment pressures make the application of this technology extremely attractive, and several organizations have begun to systematically integrate robotic devices into their laboratory automation schemes. Integration of these technologies, however, presents many challenges for software developers, instrument manufacturers, and laboratory workers. Differing needs across laboratories require flexibility and intelligence in robots, instruments, and control systems. Standardization of mechanical and electronic interfaces will be key to making these systems easy to integrate. Systems engineering, aided by simulation modeling and artificial intelligence schemes, will be important to assist in the design of optimal configurations. Software for the overall control of integrated automation will be needed that can be tailored by the laboratorian to fit the requirements of the individual laboratory. Thus, laboratory workers will need to be actively involved in implementing this new wave of laboratory automation, becoming well- versed in computers, electronics, and systems engineering.