Designer’s robot keeps British soldiers safe

A special effects company is helping keep the British military as safe as possible.

Crawley Creatures won two BAFTAs for its work on BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs and owner Jez Gibson-Harris designed Jabba the Hutt for Star Wars film Return Of The Jedi.

Jez Gibson-Harris PNL-141006-155312001

Jez Gibson-Harris PNL-141006-155312001

But its subsidiary business i-bodi has now designed a mannequin known as Porton Man for the Ministry Of Defence.

The life-size model, made from a Formula One inspired carbon composite, runs, sits and kneels to test suits before soldiers wear them in battle.

Mr Gibson-Harris said the company, based in Osier Way, Buckingham, was first asked to help the government in 2002 to help test respirators but was approached again to design the bespoke mannequin.

He said: “Every job we do is new and the rewards are playing with new technology, playing with something that has never been made before.

“That’s what’s so interesting, so fascinating. New materials, new techniques.”

Mr Gibson-Harris, who has more than 30 years of experience in robotics, moved his team of five workers from Aylesbury to Buckingham in 2009.

Together, they design original creations for TV and film which included a robotic puppy for an episode of EastEnders last month.

But the Porton Man has gone global, with the Australian, Canadian and French governments paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to use the model, which took 18 months to complete.

For more information on the work of i-bodi, visit