Scientists from Battelle Memorial Institute are developing a robot that will test clothing at Utah's Dugway Proving Ground for the Army by crawling, panting and even sweating.
The life-size robot, nicknamed Manny, is being made by Battelle scientists in Richland, Wash., so the Army can see how protective clothing worn by troops reacts to harsh conditions, such as heat, cold, high humidity, smoke, fire and chemical attack. Development costs have been about $2 million.Gregory Koller, spokesman for the Columbus-based institute, said Manny is scheduled for delivery to Dugway in Utah this fall.
David W. Bennett, the Battelle engineer who developed the robot, said Manny has 40 articulated joints that allow movement and stress testing of the clothing. The robot can walk, bend over, squat, drop to all fours and crawl.
Robot testing gives more precise information on body and clothing stress than is possible with humans, Bennett said.
Manny's trials will be limited to the laboratory at Dugway, because the robot is connected by an electronic cord to a computer.
The robot's artificial skin will be sensitive to changes in temperature or exposure to chemicals. During exertion, breath will be simulated by expansion and contraction of the chest and the exhalation of moist air.
Perspiration is simulated by the release of water from small tubes on the robot's body.
The robot has to breathe and perspire to simulate the buildup of moisture between the clothing and the skin.
Since Manny exudes pure water, he has no body odor, said Bennett. "Acutally, he smells pretty good so far," he said.