The US military is looking for a way to make batteries and other power sources lighter for soldiers to carry in the field. Researchers at the US Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) have come up with a wearable power pack and two next-generation batteries that are being tested and will be put into use in the next year.
This effort is one of several the military has undertaken recently to change the design of historically heavy items by using lighter materials or a more utilitarian design. We recently reported on the development of an ammunition backpack to help reduce the weight of munitions on the battlefield.
Christopher Hurley, an electronics engineer with the US Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command, holds a half-size BA-5590 battery, left, along with the standard version. The Army is researching the use of lighter battery materials to lighten the load for soldiers.
The Army Website says batteries and power sources leave a lot of room for lightening the load in the field, reducing soldier fatigue, and increasing agility. An integrated power source could also eliminate the need to recharge batteries in the field. To achieve this, RDECOM researchers have designed a power-source vest, called the Soldier Wearable Integrated Power System, or SWIPES, which includes a main battery that can be used to power up a number of items.
SWIPES can hold pouch-mounted chargers and power cables for batteries, GPS units, shot detection systems, and handheld communications, allowing soldiers to keep their devices and electronic equipment charged constantly. It also saves soldiers from carrying up to 12 pounds of batteries, according to the Army, which is field testing several hundred SWIPES units.