a couple of comments: (1) this is not for the HumVee based soldiers, this is intended for Special Op's or Covert Actions where the only transport is by foot (2) you still have to carry a number of different size batteries to fit into the EH to capture the generated energy ( i.e. a couple of AA, C, D, 9V, etc) so you haven't gained all that much (3) the key to the success of this device is not how well it works but rather its ready acceptance and adoptability by those that use it-- the soldiers; just looking at the photo of the device its clear that those soldiers that were consulted in the design phase (and i'm being generous here) clearly never served in the field--I'd give the most tolerant and forward thinking soldier, who is wearing a 70LB pack and carrying a 50 caliber machine gun about 100yds before he tore this off and threw it away--and they are already finishing a Phase II for $750K and looking for investment for Phase III??
Don't get me wrong-- the concept is worthwhile, DARPA and DoD have been pursuing this for years, but this incarnation has got a real ways to go. Sorry :(
This concept doesn't appear to make much sense. The target weight is stated as 430 grams and a Duracell AA weighs in at 23 grams, so essentially the soldier could carry at least 18 Duracell AA's instead of the complex arrangement described.Canadian built Duracell AA's were 1.5Wh units produced for the RCMP, so, high performance alkaline are available with their consistency and reliability. Moreover they can be carried bandolier style which foot soldiers will tolerate more so than some device clinging to their ankles.
A few issues with this one. Article states a charge rate of 6-9watts/85minutes walking 3mph - enough to charge 2 AA cells. That sounds good enough, but in reality will take much longer because the average soldier will not be walking 85 minutes straight. He may be on his feet for hours, but not necessarily moving. Those charge times are best scenerio and I think misleading. Also, as someone who has been in Iraq pounding the pavement, I don't like the bulk and snag hazard of the unit. Open street walking is one thing, but climbing over obstacles, in and out of vehicles is another. I hope it works well in the field, but I would rather have a few spare AAs in my pocket rather than rely on this to "eventually" charge my cells.
@JimT: That focus-group marketing stuff can really pay off. Surprising perspective from those soldiers--you falsely assume that equipping them with the latest and greatest technology is what they deserve and what they desire. I guess when you're right in the thick of it, survival and safety are all you care about (and rightly so) thus any kind of extraneous gear is at best, a nuisance, and at worse, a hinderance.
While with General Dynamics, I had the blessed opportunity to interview soldiers, freshly home from Afghanistan tour of duty. Meanwhile, I’ve previously posted my strong opinion that Focus-Group Marketing to understand use-case ergonomics is a “Best-Practice” in Pre-Product-Design. So, I happily accepted the opportunity to show these soldiers our latest and greatest ideas for their benefit & safety; and did I get an ear-full!I will never forget the 23-year-old sergeant puffing a smoke and gruffly stating: “Look – I get deployed with 6 duffle-bags filled with too many pounds of CRAP, and frankly, if it ain’t bullets or water, I just toss it!” This was a new beginning in my understanding of SWAP – Size, Weight And Power. Now, while this Heel-to Calf gadget may seem clever to generate a few mW’s for battery charging, I grimly recall my sergeant’s scoffing for what I had earlier considered clever ….. and then I also remember hearing the troops say they could get new AA batteries at any outpost, even in Afghanistan. But recharging the custom lithium cell-packs was nearly impossible.
" our troops in Afganistan and Iraq, particularly those in Humvees, have had to get their own Duracells sent from home in care packages because their lack of access to recharging was such a problem."
ARE YOU KIDDING? This is an outrage and a disgrace to treat a soldier in this fashion. What? No charging outlets on a HUMVEE? You get more 12 volt outlets on any SUV.
And then we have to put the task of charging their batteries on their feet? We are supposed to do things to ENABLE, not hinder, a soldier. In an emergency this charger certainly makes sense but lack of access to recharging sounds like this is routine operating procedure.
How many millions will go into developing this when power outlets in every vehicle will go a long way to solving this problem?
While I'm sorry the condition exists in the first place, I'm not apologizing for the tone of this post. What kind of short sighted thinking leads to this? There needs to be more outrage about this.
You make a cogent point, Robtatnorcross. I'm now rethinking my original comment. Clearly the key design constraint for solider communications and other power (e.g., infrared night vision) gear should be weight and power consumption. Low-powered electronics might be able to reduce the demand for power and thus lengthen the amount of time between charges for batteries. However, certain things will be immutable. For example, you'll always have to expend a certain amount of rf power to remain in touch. (Even after spread spectrum and other tricks -- which are actually primarily for security, not power -- it is what it is.) As for the solar panels, they might work in a desert local, like Iraq. But what about at night and also in jungle environments?
This looks like a great idea. Aside from questions about how much energy can really be harvested and stored, and how heavy the gadget is, I also wonder if the generator makes any noise? That could be a problem.
Cool article. I wonder, though, whether the gadget on the boot makes walking harder. I also wonder how the energy is stored between the time it is generated by the walking and the time it is transferred to a particular device. Any thoughts on that Pat?
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