The Interrupting Haptic Cow

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The Interrupting Haptic Cow

That's one heck of a teaching tool.

Image courtesy Sarah Baillie, University of Bristol

The next robot we're going to meet kind of looks like a cow's behind, chiefly because she exists solely to simulate the anatomy of a cow's rectum.

Invented by veterinarian and computer scientist Sarah Baillie of Bristol University's Veterinary School, the haptic cow is a high-tech teaching tool. See, in order to diagnose pregnancy or any number of infections, you're going to have to reach into the cow's rear end and palpate the animal's ovaries, stomach and uterus. As you might imagine, however, it's rather dark and cramped inside a cow, so veterinary schools have always faced a challenge in teaching proper palpation.

The haptic cow uses touch-feedback technology to simulate the internal organs of a female cow. Students can feel around inside the faux farm animal, check their hand position on a computer screen and hone their skills at bovine rectal examination.

The bovine robot first opened its rectum to students in 2003 at the University of Glasgow and now aids students at several British veterinary universities. Baillie also created a horse-based version called the Equine Colic Simulator, which several U.K. vet schools quickly reached for.

The next robot we're going to meet simulates part of the human anatomy.

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