Robotic mannequin to test protective suits for military

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has invested £1.1million in a robotic mannequin that will test protective suits and equipment for the armed forces.

Developed using Formula 1 technology, the Porton Man has more than 100 sensors over its body to record data during tests in real time. The MoD says it can walk, march, run, sit and can even lift his arms to sight a weapon like an infantry soldier. The mannequin was made by i-bodi, a technology firm based in Buckingham. Its chief executive Jez Gibson-Harris said: "Our brief was to produce a lightweight robotic mannequin that had a wide range of movement and was easy to handle. "Of course there were a number of challenges associated with this and one way we looked to tackle these challenges was through the use of Formula 1 technology. "Using the same concepts as those used in racing cars, we were able to produce very light but highly durable carbon composite body parts for the mannequin." The Porton Man was made for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), which tests clothing systems for soldiers against chemical warfare agents. It is hoped tests involving the mannequin will enable a new, lighter protective suit for the miltary. The ultimate aim is to create suits that strike a balance between protection and physiological burden. Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said: "This technology is enabling the UK to lead the way in this important testing. "Increased investment in science and technology by the MoD is not only enabling battle-winning and life-saving equipment to be developed, but also helping innovative companies like i-bodi to develop cutting-edge capability." For more on the Porton Man, look out for the next issue of Eureka.