Soldiers’ Charging Footsteps

Two new footwear advances could help soldiers use their own footsteps to charge devices in the field and enable commanders to track their location.

The US 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 is 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 US Army’s C51SR Centre, which is developing a shoe insole that can generate electricity with each step. They are developing a device that creates an electric charge every time a soldier’s heel pushes down into the insole.

US Army researchers have also been experimenting with wearable, flexible solar panels that can charge devices when weather permits.

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