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Cloud Labs: Where Robots Do the Research

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Cloud Labs: Where Robots Do the Research

A host of companies provide a remote, automated workforce for conducting experiments around the clock.


5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Scientists can now outsource their experiments – to a lab run by robots, who work nonstop.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Innovative
  • Scientific


The reproducibility crisis has plagued many fields of biomedical research. Automating lab work, by outsourcing experiments to “cloud labs” full of programmable machines, can solve this problem. These labs are also more efficient, and allow remote and underserved scientists access to state-of-the-art equipment. Such labs may well be where scientific breakthroughs are made in the future.


Cloud labs are like a streaming service, but for lab equipment instead of media content.

Brian Frezza and D.J. Kleinbaum founded Emerald Therapeutics in 2010 to develop antiviral drugs. But they had to spend so much time troubleshooting the machines in their lab that they ended up generating tons of code to run their experiments automatically. Not only did efficiency ramp up, but reproducibility did as well. They realized that other labs could benefit from the virtual system they’d established, so they decided to sell subscription access to their equipment and software. Emerald Cloud Lab (ECL) spun off from Emerald Therapeutics that same year.


About the Author

Carrie Arnold is a freelance science writer covering many aspects of health and the living world. She has written for a wide variety of magazines and publications, including Scientific American, Discover, Slate, Aeon, Nautilus and Women’s Health.

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