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Mannequins now mean more than dressed dummies in defence circles

Mannequins now mean more than dressed dummies in defence circles

New Generation of Defence Mannequins Give Britain a Cutting Edge

An update on MBF Blogs reports about robotics and related matters. BBC News reported (5 April 2014) that ‘a robot mannequin is to test Armed Forces’ protective suits.

In another example of a British company leading the field in technology applications, a robotic mannequin has been developed that can ‘run, kneel, sit and even mimic the movement of a soldier’ has been unveiled by the Ministry of Defence, who described it as ‘unique to the UK.’

Porton Man

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl) is situated at Porton Down, Wiltshire and gave its name to the £1.1 million animatronic mannequin. Tests are hoped to produce a lighter protective suit for all armed forces defending human beings against chemical, biological and radiological attacks.

Buckingham-based company i-bodi Technology has made the robot. They are experienced in film and TV animatronics and robotic requirements. The use of Formula One technology has apparently been helpful in their work.

They have taken the same concepts as those utilised in racing cars and come up with light but highly durable carbon composite body parts, weighing 14kgs against an earlier version of mannequin that was 80kgs.

Robotics Blogs:

After Robot Soldiers and Robot Surgeons, Stand Up for Robot Teachers, 5 March 2013

Domestic Robots Are But a Few Months Away from Rescuing Us, 25 March 2014

Watch Out, There’s a Drone About and It’s Bringing Ethical Dilemmas Galore, 2 September 2013

Robots Googling Each Other Was Only a Matter of Time, 21 May 2013

Artificial Intelligence May Pose the Greatest Threat to Humanity’s Survival, 5 February 2013

Defence and Technology, 6 March 2012


Innovation from the Past

The Porton Down facilities were first developed in 1916 as the Royal Engineers Experimental Station to conduct research into the effects of mustard, chlorine and phosgene gas being encountered by British troops fighting in the First World War trenches.

Today it is a huge secret area where all kinds of sensitive , military and health research goes on. Over the years there has been speculation and a little information about the kind of testing undertaken, on both animals and humans.

Dstl says on its website ‘we maximise the impact of science and technology on UK defence and security across government.’ It’s on a par with GCHQ in terms of importance to the British defence, security and future economic well being.

The Telegraph has a video of Porton Man being put through his paces.

ITV News has pictures and the same story.

Image: US Air Force