Is it a pet? Is it a man? Is it an anthropomorphic robot designed for the purposes of testing chemical protection clothing to be used by US Army soldiers?
No. No. And why, yes!
PETMAN is the latest creation of Boston Dynamics, the company that has designed a number of innovative robots, including BigDog, a quadruped robot for travel on rough-terrain, RISE, a robot that climbs vertical surfaces, and SquishBot, a shape-changing chemical robot that moves through tight space, and many others.
It's a little creepy, but still a pretty neat proof of concept. Check out the YouTube video for yourselves.
PETMAN can balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents.
Boston Dynamics says that PETMAN will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating when necessary, in order to closely simulate realistic test conditions.
According to the Boston Dynamics site, the PETMAN development program has a 13 month design phase followed by a 17 month build, installation and validation phase, with delivery of the robot taking place in 2011.