Skip to main content

Million-pound robotic mannequin bought by MOD to test equipment

A robotic mannequin is being used by the Ministry of Defence to test protective suits and other equipment set to be used by the UK's armed forces.

"The Porton Man" as it is known, cost the MOD £1.1 million. The mannequin has been designed and built using advanced materials that are normally seen in Formula One cars.

Related: What are Google's intentions with Boston Dynamics?

Developed by i-bodi Technology, it is fully articulated and can run, walk, march, sit, kneel and lift weapons.

In order to properly test the chemical and biological effects of the layers of clothing, body armour and equipment it wears, The Porton Man also features more than 100 sensors.

"Our brief was to product a lightweight robotic mannequin that had a wide range of movement and was easy to handle," said Jez Gibson-Harris, the CEO of i-bodi Technology, according to Wired.

Lightweight carbon composite body parts ensure that the 12-axis animatronic is relatively lightweight – the same composite is used in Formula One to reduce the bulk of the cars.

The MOD will test the unfortunate mannequin, arrayed in a variety of combat gear, against chemical, biological and radioactive agents.

See more: Dyson invest £5 million in robotics

i-bodi has created mannequins for other armed forces, including for the Canadians, who pit theirs against chemically harsh environments for up to six hours at a time.

Away from the battlefield the firm has also designed robotics of a more artistic sort, including an automated replica of a sparrow for Tate Modern, animated to seem as if it was in distress.