The Porton Man uses technology developed for Formula One testing

Formula One robot to test equipment for UK's armed forces

A sensor-riddled robot has joined a UK military research team to help test equipment such as chemical and biological suits.

Named the Porton Man, after the home of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) where it will serve, the £1.1m robot is able to walk, march, run, sit or kneel and even lift its arms as if to sight a gun, similarly to infantry soldiers.

The robot, equipped with more than a hundred sensors all over its body, is made of advanced lightweight materials and is based on a concept originally developed for Formula One racing cars.

“Our brief was to produce a lightweight robotic mannequin that had a wide range of movement and was easy to handle,” said Jez Gibson-Harris, the Chief Executive Officer of Buckinghamshire-based i-bodi Technology, the company that designed and built the mannequin.

“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.”

Mannequins have been used by Dstl in the past, but this animatronic version is unique to the UK. DSTL is one of the only laboratory in the world certified to use chemical agents to assess effectiveness of complete clothing systems such as chemical, biological and radiological suits.

“This technology, designed by a British company, is enabling the UK to lead the way in this important testing,” said Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne. “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.”


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