The Universal Protoculture Manipulator, also known as the Black Box Project, was a technological initiative sponsored by Anatole Leonard and headed by Doctor Henry Giles. It was considered a black ops project that was under the supervision of Joseph Petrie with the intention of creating a new weapon system.
This device was secreted within the newly formed Giles Academy in the years prior to the Second Robotech War and involved the use of confiscated samples of Protoculture. It functioned by using a Human being placed in a chair-like mechanism where they were fitted with sophisticated helmets that masked their eyes. This was the reason that the operators referred to it as the Black Box. Once equipped, the users had the ability to remotely take control of any mecha within transmission range. However, a noted problem was that this control lasted only for a few minutes before command reverted back to the pilot. Despite this being the case, the Manipulator left no trace of its presence within the computers of the controlled mecha.
Elite students of the Giles Academy were only allowed to make use of the Black Box as part of a secret program funded by Supreme Commander Leonard. Three such students were chosen and had to pass a test as well as be of level four in order to qualify. Among these were Jeff Lacey, Sharon Wilson and Tim Castle with all of them being informed that it was a United Earth Government program whilst other students were told it was an advanced combat simulator. The usage of the Protoculture Manipulator led to the death of test pilot Amy Deborah Pollard. A second controlled test damaged the career of Lieutenant Terrence Clark Weston.
Weston was later recruited by General Rolf Emerson in order to find the source of the accidents. Infiltrating the Giles Academy as a teacher, Weston learnt of the true nature of the Protoculture Manipulator and exposed it. This saw Joseph Petrie claim full responsibility whilst Dr. Giles seemingly killed himself due to the scandal.