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Army December 8, 2011
FORGET the loud mouth, over-
weight kid from the South Park
TV series, the Cartman work-
ing at Defence Science and
Technology Organisation (DSTO) is
revolutionising the way combat cloth-
ing is tested.
Known as the Chemical Articulated
Test Mannequin, Cartman is part of
DSTO's new Environment Simulation
Centre that is designed to put current and
future uniform designs to the test.
The $4m facility is designed to test
clothing and people in a range of condi-
tions soldiers might expect to encounter.
While the facility can go from -20° to
50° Celsius and produce everything from
dry heat to extremes of tropical humidity,
it is the simulated toxic environment that
takes testing to the next level.
The Research Leader for Chemical
Defence, Human Protection and
Performance Division, Dr Ralph Leslie,
said Cartman would be covered in wire-
less sensors, dressed in chemical/bio pro-
tective equipment and exposed to simu-
lated chemical or biological hazards to
help develop new generations of protec-
Dr Leslie said this new method of
testing protective clothing gave far more
realistic results than simply testing small
sections of material against chemicals.
"To allow yourself the full level of
protection it must provide, you need to
test the full ensemble as a system," he
Testing a protective rig on a mov-
ing mannequin could find weak points
around areas like zippers and ankles, Dr
"Cartman can run, squat and raise its
arms," he said. "We can use that in the
chamber to measure how well the cloth-
ing protects against chemical and bio-
Instead of keeping these deadly con-
coctions around the lab, Dr Leslie and his
team use low-risk materials with similar
The active ingredient in heat rub
makes an ideal substitute for many
nasty chemicals and in aerosol form, salt
behaves like a deadly biological threat,
according to Dr Leslie.
With these methods the researchers
can test against everything from toxic
industrial materials to chemical warfare
agents and nasty biohazards.
Cfn Max Bree finds out how DSTO's new
Environment Simulation Centre is developing the
protective clothing of the future.
Any weak points in the protec-
tive gear are picked up by a network
of wireless sensors developed by
Throughout the experiments the
sensors continually transmit data to
researchers, offering a vast improve-
ment over old sensors that only gave
one reading for the experiment,
according to Dr Leslie.
"These new sensors measure
the protection over the period of
the test," he said. "They give out
thousands of readings over several
While the simulated hazards are
no risk to the community, Dr Leslie
said the facility was designed to
ensure that none of the simulated
toxins could get outside.
Chemical and biological test-
ing forms a large part of work at
the facility, but its ability to change
the weather is also used by DSTO
to test the limits of human perfor-
Volunteers will be put through
their paces in a vast range of envi-
ronments to see how people hold up
under different conditions.
Similar experiments in the
past have been used to develop
Defence's work/rest charts.
Testing times: The Chemical Articulated Test Mannequin is used at DSTO's Environmental Simulation
Centre to find weak points in clothing, particularly NBC suits.
Photo provided by DSTO
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