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The US Army is ordering bipedal robots that can walk and crawl like a human, in order to test chemical protection clothing.
The Petman robot, under development by Boston Dynamics, is roughly the size and shape of a real human. It can balance itself and walk freely – albeit with a motion reminiscent of someone on the way to the bathroom and not sure if they’ll make it in time. It can also simulate human body temperature and sweating.
Previous test devices had to be supported mechanically and had a limited repertoire of motion; but, says Boston Dynamics, “Petman will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents.” Now, that’s what we call grace under fire.
The robots will be delivered in 2011.