The UK Ministry of Defence has invested more than $1.8 million in the development of Porton Man.

UK Defense Ministry Testing Chem/Bio Suits on Robot

The ministry announced it has spent more than $1.8 million on a robotic mannequin to test protective suits and equipment for Britain's armed forces.

A humanoid robot named "Porton Man" is being used to test equipment used by Britain's military, including chemical and biological suits, the UK Ministry of Defense announced April 5. The name comes from the home of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. The robot is constructed of carbon composite body parts to make it light but durable. MOD's announcement said "he is able to walk, march, run, sit, kneel and can even lift his arms to sight a weapon like an infantry soldier. More than a hundred sensors all over the robot's body record data during tests, enabling scientists to carry out real-time analysis on equipment such as chemical and biological suits in a realistic but secure environment."

"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 One 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," said Jez Gibson-Harris, CEO of i-bodi Technology Ltd, the company that designed and built the mannequin. It is an ISO 9001-registered subsidiary of Crawley Creatures Ltd, an animatronics and robotics company specializing in defense R&D and movie and TV projects.

"This technology, designed by a British company, is enabling the UK to lead the way in this important testing. Increased investment in science and technology by MOD is not only enabling battle-winning and life-saving equipment to be developed, but also helping innovative companies like i-bodi Technology to develop cutting-edge capability," said Philip Dunne, the UK minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology.

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