The role of abduction in the philosophy of science has been well studied in recent years and has led to a deeper understanding of many formal and pragmatic issues [1–5]. This paper is written from the point of view that real applications are now needed to help consolidate what has been learned so far and to inspire new developments. With an emphasis on computational mechanisms, it examines the abductive machinery used for generating hypotheses in a recent Robot Scientist project  and shows how techniques from Abductive Logic Programming  offer superior reasoning capabilities needed in more advanced practical applications. Two classes of abductive proof procedures are identified and compared in a case study. Backward-chaining logic programming methods are shown to outperform theorem proving approaches based on the use of contrapositive reasoning.