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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Simuloid - Dental training robot

A trip to the dentist could be a lot less painful in future thanks to this dental training robot.

The humanoid practice robot, dubbed Simroid for "simulator humanoid", alerts dentistry students if it is uncomfortable.

From a distance the Simroid looks like a petite Japanese woman, dressed in a pink sweater and loud red PVC heels.

On closer inspection, you realise the 'woman' is a robot - a new creation by Japanese engineers, in a bid to help dental students treat the patients in the gentlest way possible.

The Simroid's full set of white teeth are fitted with sensors and the robot will yelp when the dentist's equipment touches the virtual nerves.

The robot was on show at Japan's largest robotics convention in Tokyo this week.

As part of a demonstration, a young dental student poked her tools into the mouth of the Simroid and prompted an "Ow, that hurt" from the robot.

Open wide: The Simroid awaiting dental treatment

Dr. Naotake Shibui of the Nippon Dental University in Tokyo, who developed the robot with technicians at Kokoro Co., said: "Our aim is to train dentists to worry about whether patients are comfortable, and not just focus on technical expertise."

Shibui said scientists are further developing the robot to allow students to inject the Simroid's gums with anaesthetic.

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