The dummies were developed over ten years ago to test lifejackets for children as it was impractical to test them on live subjects. At the time the only way to check that lifejackets for small children functioned was to test them on older children. Experts were becoming concerned that this was not representative of how smaller children behave when immersed in the water as they are smaller, lighter and have different body proportions. With a lack of real life test data it was thought that lifejackets on the market for small children may be underperforming in the key areas of stability, self-righting and freeboard (the distance between the mouth and the surface of the water).
A multi-disciplinary team funded by the European Commission set out to create two anthropomorphic marine manikins for the purpose of testing lifejackets to CE regulations without using human subjects.
The BAMBI is available in two versions, age 18 months and 3 years.
These manikins weigh 9.4 kg and 14.5 kg respectively. These ages were chosen as they represent the rapid changes in body proportions during early child development.