University Unveils Robot for Detecting Gene Doping

  • Category:Experience

TSUKUBA, Ibaraki (Jiji Press) — The University of Tsukuba unveiled to the press on Wednesday an experimental humanoid robot capable of performing gene doping tests.

The university, which is undertaking research on automating doping tests for athletes, hopes to enhance the reliability and efficiency of such tests with the use of the robot.

Existing doping methods, using drugs, will likely be replaced by gene engineering, which is harder to detect, people familiar with the matter said.

The robot, named Mahoro, was based on an industrial robot produced by Yaskawa Electric Corp. and cost some ¥100 million.

Using cameras and sensors, the robot, which is slightly larger than a human’s upper body and does not have a head, is able to recognize the positions and conditions of test equipment and samples accurately. It carries out tasks with precision using its two arms, which move freely.

The university will conduct further research to make sure that the robot detects any substances indicating gene doping from athletes’ blood and other samples.

“Gene doping tests are time-consuming and labor-intensive, and mistakes are always made,” said Toru Natsume, the developer of the robot and head of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology’s (AIST) Molecular Profiling Research Center for Drug Discovery.

Natsume, who also works as a visiting professor at the university, said that the robot will be able to prevent arbitrary sampling and data falsification as it has surveillance cameras and preserves detailed records.

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