FIG. 1-2: Pelican automated cell culture observatory. (A) Top view inside the Pelican automation workstation without housing: (1) Wide angle lens image of the automated enclosure. (2) Wide angle lens image of the adjacent manual cell culture bench. (B) Outside view of automated culture system (top). Front (bottom left) and rear (bottom right) views of Pelican with housing. Yellow (imaging station), light blue (liquid handling station), green (level of stainless steel work surface) and orange (waste containers). The colour codes of the devices labels in (A) and Fig. S1 match.

FIG. 3: Automated media change pipeline.


Automated cell culture has the potential to increase the quantity and the quality of experiments that can be completed in parallel and enables long-term cell culture maintenance with reduced manual labour. Once an automated protocol is established, a robot can operate continuously without fatigue and with the same consistency and accuracy. Likewise, once established an automated imaging system can take repeated measurements over a long period without intervention. Laboratory automation requires precise specification of, and enables fine control over, many experimental protocol parameters, such as dispensing speed, cell culture conditions, fluid temperature and measurements. This enhances experimental reproducibility by reducing variance between replicates. In vitro cell culture automation facilitates faithful replication of certain in vivo physiological conditions as it enables quantitative control over key experimental parameters, e.g., perfusion rate.

The choice of devices used in laboratory automation should be based on their intended uses, flexibility, purchase costs and maintenance costs. Selecting the components of an automated plant usually entails having to purchase devices from different manufacturers, as no single firm supplies all of the devices that might be required to automate a laboratory protocol. Therefore, all of the components must be amenable to software integration in order to be able to function as a single autonomous plant. Computer scripting achieves integration by assigning a master software that communicates directly with all devices. In this approach, assuming that all the devices are able to send and receive commands, a communication protocol must be implemented that is compatible with each individual device.

However, this approach requires the master device software to recognise every other device using an idiosyncratic communication protocol. This approach can be very expensive and challenging to implement. Alternatively, Standardisation in Laboratory Automation (SiLA, is a consistent and efficiently extensible approach for integration of laboratory automation devices, based on a standard protocol specification for exchanging structured information in a client-server model of communication. Furthermore, SiLA defines over 30 standard device classes used in the field of life sciences, including incubators, microscopes, de-lidders and liquid handlers. For each device class, a list of required and optional functions are proposed to standardise the software communication within a laboratory automation plant. This approach standardises the communication between all of the devices of a plant, regardless of the manufacturer, and a SiLA compatible process management software can then be used to control each SiLA compatible device, without any modification.

*Citation: Kane et al. 2019 Automated microfluidic cell culture of stem cell derived dopaminergic neurons; Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 1796 (2019)


Bioreactors are a tool used in tissue engineering to mature and guide the development of tissue engineered constructs. Bioreactors are in vitro culture systems that have been designed to alter the following basic physiological phenomena: cell survival along with tissue structure organization, mechanical properties, and function. Bioreactors ensure cell survival through adequate delivery of essential nutrients throughout the three-dimensional tissue engineered construct. Bioreactors can also guide tissue structure, organization, and ultimately function through the application of chemical and mechanical stimuli. It is important to understand the proper implementation of bioreactor design principles in order to create better tissue engineered products .

FIG. 4: General structure of a bioreactor/fermenter bioproduction line. copyrights