This is Dento-Munch, a robot developed by scientists to help with research into dental products. Kazem Alemzadeh of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory is one of the
engineers behind the team, at Britain's Bristol University, and he reckons that Dento-Munch could cut down the time needed to trial new products, as machines up until now have been poor imitators of humans.
Dento-Munch's upper and lower "jaws" consist of two platforms. The lower one is capable of moving six degrees of freedom (unlike the current lab simulators, which are only capable of 2 degrees) and can move and rotate up and down, forwards and backwards, and left and right - just like its human counterpart.
The software that controls the robot's motors and gearboxes responds to loads as muscle and tendon does, and the chewing is slowed when resistance is high (and speeded up when it is low) thanks to feedback loops in the system.
Mr Alemzadeh also thinks that the machine will work for research on ankles, as the movement in the joint that links the foot to the leg is similar to chewing.
Dental robot chews over a toothy problem [New Scientist Tech]