This Medical Robot Seems to Bleed, Cry and Scream

Hal the robot is a teaching tool designed to simulate human responses.

Experimental robotic surgery
Experimental robotic surgery
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Robot medical patients are here and they’re frighteningly real. A new article in Wired spotlights Hal, a medical robot boy developed by the company Gaumard Scientific that can simulate crying, bleeding, going into cardiac arrest, and all manners of psychological and physical disaster.

The robot was built specifically for the training of medical students, and therefore all of its functionality exists to imitate humans in a high-stress medical environment. Hal also mimics emotions, like smiling, frowning, and even screaming, so that doctors-to-be can see what real-life responses to treatment might look and feel like. The sophisticated engineering includes a cartridge that exhales CO2 and a hydraulic system that accounts for the flowing of blood and tears.

Hal is debuting on the market for $48,000. The emotions Hal produces can occasionally get to medical students, as Marc Berg, a Stanford medical director, explained, “We can amp the stress level up so high for the participants that people will cry, essentially have to drop out of the scenario.” Emotionally intense or not, Hal has major implications for the future of medical training.

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