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A New Robo-Soldier Will Test Chemical Warfare Suits

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the beginning-of-the-end dept.

United Kingdom 29

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "When it comes to military tech, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) usually makes the headlines with its gadgets, gizmos, and kickass robots. It's a prolific supporter of robo-defence projects, from Boston Dynamics' Cheetah and its cousin Big Dog to autonomous hands and unsteady humanoids. But the latest piece of military robot news comes from across the Atlantic at the UK's Ministry of Defence, which has unveiled an animatronic man to test suits and equipment for the British armed forces. 'Porton Man' looks pretty impressively modern and human-like until you realise he's stuck to a clunky external frame that moves his limbs like a puppet. But hey, at least he's not stumbling through steps at a snail's pace before inevitably crashing to the ground, like DARPA's cyborg hopefuls. The frame lets Porton Man run, walk (sorry, 'march'), sit, and kneel in mid-air, to mimic the common movements of a human soldier. He can also hold his arms up as if sighting a weapon."

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29 comments

The cost of this program (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46688533)

Could probably feed a million starving people (or two dozen obese government "contractor"-types).

Re:The cost of this program (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46688619)

feeding a million starving people isn't the proper role of government. they should feed themselves.

preparing for war IS one of the proper roles of government.

no body owes you a living.

Re:The cost of this program (0)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 4 months ago | (#46688819)

Apparently, teaching you how to spell wasn't a role of your government, either.

Re:The cost of this program (1)

Lodlaiden (2767969) | about 4 months ago | (#46689771)

Nope. That was his parent's job.

Re:The cost of this program (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 4 months ago | (#46696513)

What are you saying about the Coward's mother? :) I want to know more!

Re:The cost of this program (1)

Catbeller (118204) | about 4 months ago | (#46688841)

God help us all from people like you.

Re:The cost of this program (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46688967)

-1 Flamebait

Re:The cost of this program (1)

MrMickS (568778) | about 4 months ago | (#46691539)

I disagree, ensuring that your population doesn't starve is the proper role of government. However we've been trying to stop people starving in the same spots in the world for the last 40 years with charitable efforts. Its about time that we admitted that the current approach has failed. Instead its created a gravy train of NGO executive posts and kept people in a near starving position, all the while excusing the local government from fixing the problem in a vaguely racist manner. "They can't solve it themselves, they need our help".

There is a further argument that the actions of the NGOs, and developed government aid, undermines the local market preventing the poor in these countries from rising out of poverty and aid dependence. What price can you get for the grain you buy if much more is going to be shipped in for free by an NGO?

Re:The cost of this program (1)

durrr (1316311) | about 4 months ago | (#46689089)

Who cares about starvation when the future is robots married to vintage music.
http://www.youdubber.com/index... [youdubber.com]

British phone box in Summary? (1)

johnsie (1158363) | about 4 months ago | (#46688563)

Anyone care to explain why there is a picture of a British phone box in the summary?

Re:British phone box in Summary? (2)

Serenissima (1210562) | about 4 months ago | (#46688643)

I'm pretty sure that the Phone Booth is the International Symbol for Britain.

Re:British phone box in Summary? (1)

johnsie (1158363) | about 4 months ago | (#46690869)

Except people in Britain stopped using phone booths a number of years ago and they have been transparent since the 1990's. It's just typical Hollywood style stereotyping. Maybe the next article about the UK will have a picture of a red double decker bus or a London Underground sign.

Re:British phone box in Summary? (1)

MrMickS (568778) | about 4 months ago | (#46691507)

That's not 100% true. The majority of phone boxes in cities have been replaced by see through ones, you still see the red phone box in rural areas. In some villages the red phone box is considered a listed building and cannot be removed, though some of them are no longer functioning phone boxes.

Re:British phone box in Summary? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#46688741)

and why is that TARDIS red hot?

ahh memories... (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 months ago | (#46688597)

reminds me of the old joke.

Q: what is the first step to determining if the area is now safe to un-mask?
A: ask the new guy if you can borrow his rifle for a second.

War war war war... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46688735)

"He can also hold his arms up as if sighting a weapon."

If you can't use it for war then it ain't useful. It needs to do something war.

Um. Who exactly is attacking? (1)

Catbeller (118204) | about 4 months ago | (#46688807)

We can't pay poor people a few bucks to eat, but we've infinite cash for surveillance and war. Who the hell is threatening us with chemicals? The US had THE stockpiles of nerve toxins on this planet. We still haven't gotten rid of it all. And for what did we make enough poison to wipe out all life on earth a million times? We seem to be the biggest threat on the planet, by far.

Re:Um. Who exactly is attacking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46688897)

Hordes of invisible enemies

Turns out paranoia is a highly profitable industry.

Re:Um. Who exactly is attacking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46688959)

Actually, the US and UK were a big seller of chemical weapons to Iraq. North Korea, China, and Russia still maintain large quantaties of chemical weapons. Not all chemical weapons are VX or blister agents, there are plenty of lacrimal irritants, choking agents, blood agents, and phychoactive agents. And the same equipment is often used in biological threat and industrial accident incidents.

Every serious military has chemical survivability equipment and training. To forget it is to invite chemical use.

I know you, sitting on your ass in your civil life, can't possibly immagine what war could possibly be like. Like some hipster declaring war is sooo 2003. You are enjoying a world made safe by better men than yourself. When the going gets tough again, and it will, people like you are in for a rude awakening.

Oh and... we can't pay poor people.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]
really?

NBC threats exist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46689641)

Let's remember "chem" suits are for use against multiple threats and can protect against radioactive particulates in scenarios such as nuke plant accidents.

Chems are cheap, and the failure to be ready to operate in a smegged environment would make using them (especially in unconventional war) attractive to some folks.

NBC suits are exhausting to wear so better tech merits development. Heat stress in MOPP 4 (Google it) can kill. We used to train in full gear during the Cold War and even doing 12-hour shifts in MOPP 4 didn't simulate the likely scenario of having to wear it for days. We had to monitor each other for heat exhaustion during the summer even in CONUS.

Re:Um. Who exactly is attacking? (1)

MrMickS (568778) | about 4 months ago | (#46691521)

Money makes the world go around. We've yet to reap the peace dividend that should have resulted from the end of the cold war. It turned out that finding other ways to employ those people that were making arms to combat the Soviet threat was too difficult for the politicians. Instead they have identified new threats so as to keep the arms business going.

That said the cost of this is minuscule compared with the UK maintaining its *independent* nuclear deterrent, though who we are deterring now I've no idea.

Re:Um. Who exactly is attacking? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | about 4 months ago | (#46691543)

>Who the hell is threatening US with chemicals?
You answered that question. If the US military is practically sitting on a heap of chemical weapons, then they need proper clothing.
Probably also a good choice of gear if they plan vacation on the Syrian beach.

Disney (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about 4 months ago | (#46688831)

Pretty sure Walt Disney was doing this a long time ago, just without the "chemical suit testing" excuses, and on a much smaller budget.

Boston Dynamics PETMAN (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 4 months ago | (#46689015)

This is not the first humanoid robot for this purpose. Meet PETMAN [bostondynamics.com]

PETMAN is an anthropomorphic robot designed for testing chemical protection clothing. Natural agile movement is essential for PETMAN to simulate how a soldier stresses protective clothing under realistic conditions.

Unlike previous suit testers that had a limited repertoire of motion and had to be supported mechanically, PETMAN balances itself and moves freely; walking, bending and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents. PETMAN also simulates human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating, all to provide realistic test conditions.

Although it's hard to tell from dueling press releases, it appears that PETMAN is more sophisticated and moves much more autonomously then Porton Man. I assume that it is also a lot more expensive.

Re:Boston Dynamics PETMAN (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 4 months ago | (#46689865)

Glad you linked this, since I was about to do the same. It's a bit disingenuous of the summary to point out other Boston Dynamics programs and then implicitly suggest that this new robot is something different, rather than putting the two up against each other. PETMAN has been around for quite awhile, since I recall linking to it a couple of months back when iRobot's CEO (the company that makes Roomba) made some comments about bipedal robotics being a bad idea.

Robots, Chemical Warfare... (1)

Dragonshed (206590) | about 4 months ago | (#46689357)

This summary reads like a Fringe episode synopsis. Are there any former Boston Dynamics co-founders currently in a mental institution, claiming they crossed universes after ingesting some homemade lsd?

Robots cheaper then single men? (1)

MonsterMasher (518641) | about 4 months ago | (#46690727)

Wow.. another first for technology.
Pretty soon you can die on the street for no 'honor' like the single (surprising how many were 'unattached' after their wife learned of injuries. Mental or physical - at least they all were well honored and a monument was put up for those with the good grase to die there - where they were suppose to.
"See - we spend $30 dollars - if was worth it!")
Good deal - love progress.

Error code: RM-GN-13 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46691091)

"Alarm! Zhe Goggles! Zhey do nothing!"

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