Lifelike "child" robot helps train pediatric dentists in Japan

MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2022

A child-sized doll screams and rolls its eyes while lying on a table, as engineer Hiroki Takimoto looks on calmly. But instead of being a child's toy, the doll is a humanoid robot that can mimic critical medical symptoms designed to train dental workers.

Co-developed by Japanese robotics startup Tmsuk and a local dental school, the robot, named the Pedia_Roid, was designed to simulate a child's response when receiving dental treatment, including changes to its medical condition.

Using a tablet programmed with different medical conditions, the user is able to send signals to air cylinders installed within the robot's joints to move its entire body, mouth, and tongue to display physical reactions and facial expressions. More importantly, the robot is able to simulate signs of it undergoing medical emergencies such as convulsion and heart failure, allowing trainees to gain experience in knowing how to handle similar critical situations, a Tmsuk engineer said.

Director of Tmsuk's engineering division Yusuke Ishii said the robot was developed due to the lack of clinical dental training to treat children.

"It is difficult to get experience in pediatric dentistry because there are no opportunities to practise. In addition, there is the risk that children will move wildly because with children when their medical condition suddenly worsens, it's hard for them to express that situation. So it is necessary to have the experience and knowledge to monitor and treat the patients," Ishii told Reuters.

Currently, at a hefty price tag of about 25 million Japanese yen ($195,000), Tmsuk hopes to develop the hyper-realistic robot further such that people from other childcare industries such as paediatricians and elementary school teachers would be able to use it for other emergency situation training.