Fruit Fly Analysis Automation.


In industry, manufacturing companies implement time and labor efficient automated solutions within their assembly productions. Combining mechanical and electrical components through a computerized user-interface, a job that previously required 20 tedious labor hours by 20 individuals is suddenly reduced to 4 monitoring hours by 2 individuals. In addition to the reduction in time and labor, margin of error and cost are effectively reduced. The benefits of a stand-alone automated assembly system are apparent, and can be applied to areas beyond industry, such as the research lab. In response to the time-consuming and labor-intensive fruit fly genetic research currently being conducted at the New England Medical Center, an automated system is being designed and prototyped by the Tufts Robotics Academy Team. The Team integrates talent from all fields necessary to design a successful system: mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and an engineering psychologist. Each team member is responsible for designing and testing a subsystem of the entire automated end product.

The Goal.

The goal of this project is to design and develop a robotic system to efficiently quantify the amount of food consumed by Drosophila larvae. The system shall consist of two subsystems: (1) feeding, cleaning, and separation of specimen, and (2) collecting and analyzing data.

A computerized mechanical apparatus will be prototyped and fabricated to accommodate the needs of this specific genetic research project; however, the system will be versatile enough to efficiently assist future research projects involving the analysis of Drosophila larvae. Upon the manual insertion of fruit fly eggs, a robotic mechanism will allow the eggs to grow to the third larval stage, feed the larvae with specialized medium, rinse the larvae, and finally capture high-resolution images for data analysis.