The U.S. Army recently awarded a $16.5 million contract to Robotic Research LLC for a sensor unit that fits on a boot and can be used to track individual soldier locations, even in GPS-denied environments, according to a Robotic Research statement.
Soldiers are carrying more electronic gear than ever before, and those radios, tablets, sensors and other devices need to be charged. And it’s hard to find a wall socket on the battlefield.
One novel way to get after the charging problem while still keeping soldiers on the move comes in the form of a recent patent out of the Army’s C5ISR Center, which is developing a shoe insole that can generate electricity with each step.
As the soldier’s heel pushes down into the insole, the force hits a miniature rotational level mechanism, turning a small generator, which creates an electric charge.
The weird power-boots are just the first step in the military’s plan to turn soldiers into walking battery packs.
Army researchers are also trying to build kinetic energy harvesters into high-tech knee braces and backpacks as well.
But some of these devices are actually making soldiers’ lives worse. For instance, the backpack only harvested energy when it was loose-fitting and able to bounce around — making it cumbersome to carry.
Reference- Army Times, Futurism, Techlink