We’ve seen many of the wonderful ways in which robots can be used in the medical arena; from patient rehabilitation to telesurgery, robots have truly been of aid to patients and doctors alike. While we rejoice over technological advances made in the field of medical robotics, let us not forget one more group of people in the medical world that robots can help – the doctors and surgeons-to-be! Yup, that’s right, even doctors and surgeons-in-training will find robots useful to them. How so? The Laerdal SimMan offers an answer: a robot for trainees to practise on. Gone are the days when trainees have to rely on lifeless mannequins to carry out Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), or actual patients to carry out Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) or even anaesthesia administration; mannequins are certainly poor training tools as compared to actual patients, but there definitely aren’t any ‘spare’ patients that can be used for ‘redoing’ either! The SimMan, dubbed the ‘Universal Patient Simulator’ offers trainees the interactivity ordinary mannequins cannot provide. It is a medical robot specially designed with a plethora of features to simulate many behaviours of a patient. The SimMan looks, feels and acts very much like a patient. Its features are simply too numerous to count; some of these include realistic airway features with spontaneous respiration, variable respiratory rate and airway complications such as pharyngeal obstruction, tongue oedema, trismus, laryngospasm, decreased cervical range of motion, decreased lung compliance, stomach distension, pneumothorax decompression, cardiac functions with an ECG library of over 2,500 cardiac rhythm variants, CPR functions, pulse and blood pressure functions, circulatory and IV drug administration features, simulated patient sounds, as well as convenient interfacing with computers and software for control and logging. In short, SimMan provides trainees with an opportunity for extremely realistic, hands-on practice that could be carried out again and again. One of the best things is perhaps that of the simulated patient sounds; not only are the moans and groans a good indication of something being done wrongly, they are probably something the trainees will have to get themselves used to in the future. The SimMan is one of 2 robot patient simulators that Laerdal has to offer; the AirMan is the other. The AirMan serves as a simulator for the more specific field of difficult airway management, and includes airway features, CPR, pulse and blood pressure features, circulatory and IV drug administration features as well as simulated patient sounds. A little bit of history on the invention of robot patients here: In 1979, René Gonzalez, one of the inventors of SimMan witnessed a crew rushing to tend to an asphyxiating patient, albeit unsuccessfully, and wondered if things could be done better. He realised that there were too few avenues for real-life emergency handling practice, and the existing simulators available for medical trainees were expensive and not realistic enough. Hence, in 1995, he and a friend created ADAM (acronym for Advanced Difficult Airway Management), which was a life-sized, anatomically correct, 70-pound robot. ADAM breathed, talked, coughed, vomited, moaned, cried, had a pulse and measurable blood pressure, reacted to IV drugs and other treatments and could be remote controlled. It was from ADAM that SimMan and AirMan were evolved. All in all, both the robots SimMan and AirMan serve as a great alternative for medical trainees to practise their skills on. The not-too-forbidding price tag of US$10,000 to US$25,000 per unit helps as well.