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We Should All Be Glad Someone Finally Invented a Robot Ass

Implausibly, it's not a sex thing.

In your twenties, a prostate exam seems like a far-off eventuality. Nonetheless, men have whispered about these exams in fear, like a time bomb waiting to detonate their fragile sense of masculinity, for as long as doctors have been sticking fingers in butts.

But I'm going to ask you to think about prostate exams for a minute here because, I mean, have you ever really thought about how a doctor might train to go rooting around inside someone's broth chute with the goal of feeling something hard and knobbly on the other side of a rectal wall?

As it turns out, it's pretty tough to do this sort of exam effectively, and doctors-in-training might have a difficult time finding patients who are willing to help them practice: studies have shown that volunteering to undergo an exam for training purposes can cause stress to the patient, and be a psychological burden. A team of researchers at Imperial College London thinks a hyper-realistic robot butt could help.

Fernando Bello, the lead researcher behind the butt, told me that the system is basically a silicon thimble that a student wears on her finger. The thimble is outfitted with small robotic arms that subtly press against the material to create resistance as the student explores an anatomically correct ass, giving her the sensation of being inside a real anus.

Image: Imperial College London

The robot arms are also outfitted with pressure sensors to track what the student is doing in there. This allows real-time feedback for both the student and teacher as a practice examination is performed.

"With the current training methods, it's difficult to know whether students are competent or not," Bello said. "It's quite an intimate examination, and there's also the issue of if they get it wrong or right in terms of the diagnosis itself."

The prototype butt has been a hit with both doctors and students, Bello said, and now the team has received funding to build a commercial version. Similar robots could also help doctors train for other procedures, like gynecological exams. "They present their own challenges due to their intimate nature," Bello said of this next step.

Robot butts are just the latest implementation of an emerging technology known as haptics—a field of robotics that concerns itself with touch, and how robots can use physical force to recreate realistic sensations. Naturally, this has found some application both in the world of teledildonics (otherwise known as "long distance bonin'") and in medicine.

A realistic robot butt falls somewhere in between these two realms, which might be a little creepy for some, but it's for a good cause. Because when somebody is in there, you want to be damn sure they know what they're doing.