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Robotic jaws give dentists something to chew on


July 2, 2009

The Chewing Robot concept and CAD model of the complex mechanism (Image: Dr. Daniel Raabe)

The Chewing Robot concept and CAD model of the complex mechanism (Image: Dr. Daniel Raabe)

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In news that might be a little worrying when coupled with our recent story of the flesh-eating robotic clock, UK researchers have developed a Chewing Robot. Thankfully the uses for the Chewing Robot are more benign - it has been developed to study the wear and tear on dental elements, such as fillings, crowns and bridges. By reproducing the motion and forces sustained by teeth within a human mouth, the robot has the potential to dramatically improve the process of developing and testing new dental materials.

A human jaw is a powerful and complex piece of natural machinery, allowing a person to chew in many different ways. The lower jaw and the teeth move with six degrees of freedom, but clinical trials examining the wear of human teeth are expensive and time-consuming. By the time a new material has been tested, it is often obsolete.

Recognizing that the Stewart-Gough platforms used in aircraft simulators provide the same six degrees of freedom, Dr Kazem Alemzadeh, Senior Lecturer in the University of Bristol's Department of Mechanical Engineering proposed the Chewing Robot concept based on just such a platform. Daniel Raabe, a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, then set about designing and developing the Chewing Robot concept.

Daniel Raabe said: "By reproducing natural bite forces and movements, the Chewing Robot can help improve and accelerate the process of developing new dental restorative materials that may someday be found in a person's mouth."

Anyone wanting to get an eyeful of this mouthful can check out the Chewing Robot concept at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, which runs until the 4th of July at the Royal Society in London.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick
1 Comment

If theyre studying the factors of diet like sugary foods and lifestyle like smoking and/or lack of brushing in real time on their dental appliances, they might as well go for it.

That chewing motion must take energy. Why not save energy by attaching a microbial fuel cell? Then they can do clinical trials according to lifestyle on their little chewing robot.

For the less healthy life style, they can feed it steak and potatoes, ice cream, cookies, cakes, and candies with no care. For the healthy clinical trials, they can stick to salads, veggies, fruits, and nuts with brushing, flossing and waterpicking.

Sounds like a fun job.

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