Robot dental patient winces and complains

The robot repertoire is pretty extensive these days, but there’s been one notable omission – the ability to complain. But it’s a fundamental feature of a new creation designed to help train dentists.

Hanako, developed by Japan’s Showa and Waseda universities and local manufacturer tmsuk, can dribble, lift her arms, roll her eyes and speak.

Everything starts off nice and friendly with a smiling face – but if a dental student makes a mistake and drills into the wrong tooth, for example, she shifts her head and says: “It hurts.”

The humanoid robot can also move her jaw and tongue – her jaw even relaxes to mirror the way a patient gets tired as the torture continues. Her resin teeth can be removed after the exercise so that teachers can assess how good a job has been done.

Showa University has already turned 88 of its student dentists on Hanako. Shugo Haga, a 26-year-old trainee dentist, told AFP he had previously used a mannequin’s head but said it felt like using a mere “object.”

“This one isn’t easy to cope with, but she is close to being a patient,” he said.