Hal, a new robot developed to aid medical and nursing students in their training, is reportedly so “real”—it sheds tears, bleeds, and urinates, and its pupils react to changes in light—that trainers have to be careful not to “push things too far” and upset the trainees.

The robot, a creation of Gaumard Scientific, is part of a “complete family” of similar medical simulators, which include:

• Victoria, a robotic woman that gives birth to a baby robot; and

• Super Tory, a robotic “newborn” that can simulate illnesses that can strike human babies.

An article published by Wired magazine notes that the robot can seem too real. This can result in distressing the medical professions using it to train themselves for real-world scenarios.

With Hal, the company had to be careful not to scare off medical students by making the boy look too real. They avoided adding human touches like facial blemishes or freckles

Stanford University Revive Initiative for Resuscitation Excellence Medical Director Marc Berg told the magazine:

“For so many years, the mannequins were really just rubber human likenesses with basically no interactivity at all. They’re finally increasing exponentially in their realism …

“We can amp the stress level up so high for the participants that people will cry, essentially have to drop out of the scenario. I do think there’s a good potential that we’ll see more of that emotional type response when the mannequin is so realistic.”

The report quotes Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital Heart Center Medical Director Lillian Su, who said one day robots and other forms of technology will be so sophisticated “they’ll be able to interpret our emotions and replicate our emotions.” Until then, she concluded, humans will be forced to put that part of themselves under control, which is likely an unexpected challenge for many medical educators.

(Photo Credit: Gaumard Scientific)