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Robotics Case Studies

Robotic Lab Assistant

Motivo Engineering


Breakwater Research is an energy research firm in San Jose, California. With the fast-paced progression of modern society, energy research and development of more efficient energy storage is becoming increasingly important. Breakwater Research is primarily focused on cutting edge research in the field of advanced hydrogen storage.


Hydrogen storage is a key enabling technology in the progression of new transportation and power technologies. Historically hydrogen has been challenging to store given its low volumetric energy density. Research into new methods of hydrogen storage requires precise movement in a high-pressure environment, thus creating a hazardous experimental atmosphere which is unsafe for direct human interaction.

Motivo needed to create a fully integrated Robotic Lab Assistant platform which would be able to manipulate experiments without endangering human life or compromising experiment quality. This robotic system needed to operate in extreme pressure conditions, be robust, rigid and mobile. A key design driver was the desire for a versatile system which would be able to adapt to undetermined future experiment procedures and continue to provide value as the research progressed or even pivoted. 


Motivo collaborated with researchers and laboratory technicians to understand the dangers of the experimental environments to which they were constantly exposed.  After an initial exploration, Motivo engineers proposed the concept of a mobile collaborative robot platform which could be operated remotely- minimizing the risk to human safety.

When fully integrated, this universal robotic arm would be able to manipulate and interact with experimental test setups.  Unlike many other available production robotic systems which are typically optimized to perform one task repeatedly, this platform would work with the user in a live setting. An operator would be able to control the robot as easily as if it were a smartphone without being anywhere near the hazardous environment the robot was working in.  The operator also had the ability to change or expand the robotic system to perform new tasks as research needs developed.


Motivo was able to provide a mobile robotic solution that accomplished a complex task in an extremely dangerous environment where traditional integrators had failed. By leveraging existing robotic arm solutions with a custom platform Motivo was able to integrate a Robotic Lab Assistant Platform into the client’s facilities in under two months. Motivo worked with researchers to ensure they were comfortable operating the arm and that it suited their needs. The platform is designed to maintain its value and impact as the research progresses.

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