Title: Michelangelo, a robotized dummy for simulation in cardiology.
Author: prof. Alberto Rovetta N. AL-1

A. Rovetta, A giochi fatti, Technology Review, November, 1989

A robotized dummy, called "Michelangelo", designed to simulate cardio pathologies of which it reproduces the respiratory phases, the movement of the pulsations and impulse and the sounds of the heart. The robotized dummy represents the first example of a soft robot. The dummy's body, which consists of a head, two arms and the upper part from the torso, is made from a special material that simulates the characteristics of the human body with regard to the sensations of touch and visual image.
In order to be profitably used as a training instrument for cardiologists, the dummy can be subjected to operations of: inspection, touch, percussion and auscultation.
Unlike other dummies produced in the past, the system developed represents a technological revolution and is included in the design context of automation and robotics, from automatons to anthropomorphous robots.

The revolutionary aspect of the dummy, called Michelangelo, is the fact that none of the technologies applied in other automatic dummies were followed; On the contrary, Michelangelo was redesigned according to modern microrobotic criteria and to operating technologies applied to space robots. Particular reference was made to the Friend robot, designed at the Telerobotics Laboratory of the Politecnico di Milano, in a contract for the Italian Space Agency.
This simulation enables us to obtain a didactic and training model for cardiology, which, when combined with an educational software, allows students to learn about some of the aspects relative to cardio pathologies.

Michelangelo consists of a body part, an electric and electronic structure for activation purposes, a series of electronic cards to control movement and sound, a control and calculation computer to operate the dummy, an infra-red ray system for the emission and acquisition of sounds and a radio transmission system for broadcasting of the cardiological signals emitted by the machine.
The main modules are the following:

  • the dummy's body;
  • the electronic cards;
  • the command computer;
  • the sound emitters and the receivers;

The dummy has:

  • a diaphragm, whose movement simulates the movement of the lungs;
  • some pulsation points, situated at the groin, at the carotid, at the elbow and at the wrist, both on the left and right sides of the body, for a total of 8 pulsation points;
  • impulse, whose movement simulates the motion of impulse;
  • some heart points, which enable the heart beat, corpse ending to the chosen cardiac pathology, to be heard as soon as they are touched.

Respiration is simulated by controlling a c.c. motor both in terms of position and speed. The schematisation used simulates respiration with a sequence of three breaks.
Pulsations and impulse are controlled in an ON/OFF mode by suitably controlling excitation and the release of the solenoids.
The electronic cards were designed according to the most advanced industrial productions for the design of high-tech systems. The electronic cards have two functions: card 1: motor control for diaphragm motion, card 2: activation of the pulsation point solenoids, of impulse and handling of the heart point sensors.

Future possible developments
Future developments include the creation of an adult female dummy and child dummies.
Software developments could lead to the simulation of developing pathologies which, over time, could allow patients' reactions to the application of a specific therapy to be analysed together with an evaluation of behavioural patterns
The future development of software could also allow for the creation of other simulation applications, through the preparation of programs that simulate disease and recovery, death and birth. Cardiac conditions corresponding to these processes could also be simulated. Dummy simulations could also be communicated at teleconferences or via computer networks.