• 11.18.10

Crash-Test Dummies Vs. Chemical Warfare

Testing for WMDs is a dirty job, but some mannequin’s got to do it.

Some mannequins get all the plum gigs. Instead of standing by the window of a department store, looking svelte, we learn today of dummies that are doomed to the innermost circle of mannequin hell–they’re designed to test protection equipment against chemical warfare agents. That job, which now enters “Phase II” with new Army funding, makes being a traditional crash-test dummy seem like a sinecure.


The initiative is lead by the Midwest Research Institute (MRI). Boston Dynamics is undertaking the robotic mannequin design and fabrication; Sensor Research and Development Corp is outfitting the mannequin with chemical sensors; two others are designing and constructing the exposure chamber. There’s even a group working on the “mannequin physiology”: Measurement Technology Northwest, whose nightmarish site offers “sweating” mannequins, among other things.

[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.