Not only are U.S. Marines always on their feet, but they often have to carry more than 15 pounds of batteries on top of their heavy equipment to charge their electronics. To help alleviate this, Lockheed Martin has joined forces with STC Footwear to develop a kinetic boot that transforms the motion of footsteps into a functional power source. In its current design, the Kinetic Boot is capable of generating up to 1.5 watts of power per foot to charge reusable batteries or connect directly to systems.
Previous solutions, such as solar-power chest panels and helmets, still added significant weight to soldiers’ uniforms, but the Kinetic Boot only adds 2 to 3 ounces of weight per boot—all while generating more energy. In a demonstration at the Marine Corps’ Experimental Forward Operating Base (ExFOB), a pair of Kinetic Boots was able to generate between 2 to 3 average watts of power, or enough to power an iPhone 5 three times after a 60-minute walk.
While the concept of harvesting energy from motion is not entirely new, efficiency has remained an ever-present problem. Further optimization of the boots will help achieve maximum power generation while ruggedizing the design for harsh military conditions. Enhanced ruggedized packaging will not only protect the boots’ components from environmental factors including dust and mud, but will also standardize the components’ positioning to increase reliability.