- Pediatric HAL is a medicalrobot that actually bleeds, cries, urinates, and mimics other human behaviour.
- Medical students use HAL to learn how to diagnose and treat illness before working with real patients.
- Pediatric HAL is part of a line of robots from the company Gaumard, which a lso makes robots that simulate pregnant people, newborns, and trauma wounds.
Narrator: This medical robot actually bleeds and cries. His name is Pediatric HAL.
HAL: Hi, I’m Pediatric HAL. I can show you how I feel by moving my face and my eyes.
Narrator: HAL is part of a line of medical training robots manufactured by a company called Gaumard. Gaumard makes humanlike robots that simulate childbirth, newborn care, surgery, and trauma wounds. Pediatric HAL is designed to mimic the reactions of a child around five years old. During training, doctors, nurses, and first responders all practice various simulations on HAL before treating real patients.
James Archetto: He breathes, he cries, he speaks. His head moves back and forth. His eyes move. He has blood pressure, pulse, pulse oximetry, glucose measurement.
Narrator: In many situations, medical students practice on standardised patients who are actors faking certain symptoms, but those actors probably don’t want to be stuck with a needle over and over again. Instead, students can use HAL to learn how to do more physically invasive procedures, like putting in a breathing tube or starting an IV. And because his body is programmable, HAL can show signs of poor health that an actor might not be able to mimic.
When you shine a light on HAL’s eyes, his pupils may or may not dilate. Even really good actors probably can’t control their pupils. And HAL actually responds to real equipment. If he starts to flatline, a nurse can use a defibrillator to shock his heart back into action. HAL also has a variety of internal motors and pumps that move air and fluids around, which help it mimic bodily functions, like breathing and using the bathroom.
Archetto: He has a small reservoir in his left finger, left middle finger, for glucose measurement. So you can take a regular glucometer and you can actually put a glucose solution in there, prick his finger, and it would give you an actual glucose reading.
Narrator: HAL also has reservoirs for holding fake urine, fake blood, and there’s even one in his head for holding fake tears. We have artificial blood. It’s honestly just a powder that you add water to and it creates a red fluid, but there’s also urine and as I mentioned, there are tears. For tears, it’s water. For urine, it’s food colouring. Narrator: The educator can also modify HAL’s responses on the fly. If a training team isn’t working fast enough, the teacher can program HAL’s software to make his blood pressure go up or his breathing get faster.
Archetto: Nothing ever goes according to plan in the emergency room or in critical care. So you may have a plan of care for a particular patient, but something changes and it all goes south in a hurry. We can make HAL respond just as a patient would be. So that’s become so valuable in those learning environments.
Narrator: But HAL doesn’t only teach doctors and nurses how to perform medical procedures. It helps students learn how to interpret and appropriately respond to a young patient’s behaviour. When you look at HAL, you can tell that he’s not a real boy, but his facial expressions and simulated emotions still have an effect on the physicians and nurses in training.
Henry Henao: We have a concept called suspending disbelief. So it’s the fact that, ok I know that it’s a mannequin, it’s a simulator. They know it’s a mannequin and it’s made of plastic and electronic parts, but they look beyond that. So we ask them to forgive the fact that it’s not a real patient, and once they break through that they really start making very human connections to the patient in front of them. And they, yeah, it kind of melts away.
Narrator: People don’t always communicate verbally, especially young children, and that’s why HAL’s creators programmed him to have these non-verbal reactions.
Archetto: When he cries, he cries real tears and that’s important because, again, that’s a way of communicating.
Narrator: At times, HAL’s responses are so real that people respond to him like he’s a human. Archetto: HAL was there and he was sitting in his bed and we made him cry, and one of the nurses, who was in attendance, reached down and actually picked him up and tried to console him. She actually hugged him. So, it does have that impact on caregivers. It makes the scenario very realistic.
HAL: My family says I’m one of the smartest kids around. I can show you how I feel by moving my face and my eyes and if you talk to me, I’ll talk back.
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