A new robotic mannequin – made using Formula 1 technology – will be used to test chemical and biological protective suits for Britain’s armed forces.
Porton Man can run, walk, march, sit and kneel, allowing scientists to test suits against attacks such as nerve agents like sarin.
It was made by UK firm i-bodi Technology for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in Porton Down, Wiltshire, where military clothing is tested against chemical warfare agents.
Mannequins have been used by Dstl in the past, but the new £1.1m animatronic version has a raft of improvements and sensors all over its body that allow real-time analysis. It is also much lighter than its predecessor – 14kg (30lb) instead of 80kg (176lb).
Jaime Cummins, of Dstl’s Chemical and Biological Physical Protection group, said it is hoped the mannequin will help produce a new, lighter-weight protective suit for the future.
Jez Gibson-Harris, chief executive of i-bodi Technology, said his firm was tasked with producing a lightweight robotic mannequin based on data collected from 2,500 soldiers, that was easy to handle and had a wide range of movement.
He said: “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.”