Robotics

Shades of Terminator as PETMAN tests hazmat suit

Shades of Terminator as PETMAN...
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN stretches realistically to test the chemical protection suit
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN stretches realistically to test the chemical protection suit
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN is a humanoid robot designed to test chemical protection suits for the U.S. military
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN is a humanoid robot designed to test chemical protection suits for the U.S. military
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN can walk and perform other human-like movements to accurately test the durability of hazmat suits
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN can walk and perform other human-like movements to accurately test the durability of hazmat suits
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN walks on a treadmill in a mock chemical exposure chamber
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN walks on a treadmill in a mock chemical exposure chamber
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN stretches both arms out
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN stretches both arms out
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN stands still, balancing on its own
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN stands still, balancing on its own
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN bends over
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN bends over
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN crouching and twisting at the waist
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN crouching and twisting at the waist
Boston Dynamics' PETMAN stretches realistically to test the chemical protection suit
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Boston Dynamics' PETMAN stretches realistically to test the chemical protection suit
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Back in late 2009 Boston Dynamics revealed it was working on a humanoid robot that would test protective clothing for the military. Having already amazed the world three years earlier with the lifelike balancing capabilities of its quadruped BigDog, this would be the company's first bipedal robot. It was an ambitious project, but it appears the work has paid off. The robot's eerily realistic body movements are made all the more convincing now that its mechanical nature is hidden by a chemical protection suit.

In order to test the durability of hazmat suits, the robot would have to perform rigorous tests like running, jumping, crouching, and crawling. When the project was first announced it was almost too ambitious to be believed, but the company has been making steady progress over the years. In 2011 it published a video of an incomplete PETMAN (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin) performing realistic motions that seem to leapfrog high tech robots developed over the course of decades in Japan.

Although tethered by a power cable, PETMAN's balance is more dynamic and natural than other bipeds, and it outdoes other humanoid robots with its skin. The robot not only has sensors embedded in its skin that will detect leaks in the suit, but it also artificially perspires in order to maintain a micro-climate inside the clothing. The idea is to precisely replicate the real conditions inside a suit that might affect its eventual wearer:

Petman Tests Camo

Boston Dynamics says that PETMAN has been delivered to a testing facility where it is undergoing validation experiments. Soon the robot will be installed inside of an exposure chamber where it will be tested against the likes of sarin and mustard gas.

It may not be ready to replace a human soldier on the battlefield, but PETMAN is doing its part to save lives by significantly improving how chemical protection suits are tested. Meanwhile, its big brother ATLAS is gearing up for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which promises to be one of the most exciting robot events ever.

The PETMAN project, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense program, was aided by Measurement Technology Northwest, Smith Carter, CUH2A, and HHI.

Source: Boston Dynamics

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6 comments
thk
The Halloween movie will not need to conduct auditions for Jason anymore.
Kris Lee
Considering movies, what rounds would terminate it?
EddieG
At least one of the poses came right out of a porn flick. When this thing melds with the Japanese sex robots, feminism will drift into obscurity.
Maxim Chanturiay
Clearly, the ropes did most of the balancing. But, the project still looks very promising. I wonder how soon they will start teaching him to fight.
Gregg Eshelman
Should have it do the YMCA dance or The Robot. ;-) Put a bit of a "human" element on the robot to make it popular with a viral video.
Reminds me of the consumption robots in "The Midas Plague" by Frederik Pohl, published in 1954.
With unlimited fusion energy and robots doing all the menial jobs, producing massive amounts of consumer goods, a reverse rationing system is in effect where people have to use up what the robots make. Use enough and you get to move up a level and have to consume less. But one man comes up with a plan to have the robots use up the fruits of their own labor.
ralph.dratman
@Gregg Eshelman, I remember that story very well! I thought it sounded like a great idea.
@Eddie, feminism will never drift into obscurity. It has been around in one form or another throughout recorded history. Every time women's struggles become invisible in one place and time, they reappear even stronger in the next generation, but in a different form.