October 23, 2012

Training Your Robot the PaR-PaR Way

Teaching a robot a new trick is a challenge. You can’t reward it with treats and it doesn’t respond to approval or disappointment in your voice. For researchers in the biological sciences, however, the future training of robots has been made much easier thanks to a new program called “PaR-PaR.”

Nathan Hillson, a biochemist at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), led the development of PaR-PaR, which stands for Programming a Robot. PaR-PaR is a simple high-level, biology-friendly, robot-programming language that allows researchers to make better use of liquid-handling robots and thereby make possible experiments that otherwise might not have been considered.