US Army and USMC to test Bionic Power's walking technology 42705163

Defence & Security News - Bionic Power
US Army and USMC to test Bionic Power’s walking technology
The US Army and the Marine Corps will put on field trials Bionic Power’s regenerative walking technology. The company received a USD1.25 million contract from the Office of the Secretary of Defence to provide a low-volume production units of its PowerWalk Kinetic Energy Harvester. The units are tested under the Joint Infantry Company Prototype (JIC-P) programme.
US Army and USMC to test Bionic Power’s walking technology
According to Bionic Power's CEO Yad Garcha, wearing one of our PowerWalk harvesters reduces battery weight while providing continuous life-saving power in the field for communications, navigation and optics (Photo: Bionic Power)

This programme’s goal is to develop and test a system that can provide power to the dismounted troops, in order to reduce the logistical burden and increase self-sustainability. PowerWalk is a light-weight, leg-mounted exoskeleton, which can follow soldiers’ every move and harvest energy during walking or running. Joint testing under the new contract will begin with the USMC and the US Army in early to mid-2017.

The system features microprocessors, which analyze the gait of the soldier with Bionic Power’s proprietary control software, to determine when exactly to generate maximum power with the least amount of effort. Therefore, PowerWalk requires a minimal amount of effort, while reducing muscle fatigue during downhill walking, easing metabolic effort and diminishing the potential for injuries.

Noel Soto, US Army Systems Engineer at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Centre, said: "A soldier typically carries 16-20lbs in batteries on a 72-hour mission. If a soldier can generate power with wearable energy-harvesting devices, it means we can not only reduce the weight on his or her back, we also minimize the unit's reliance on field resupply, making it possible for us to extend the duration and effectiveness of a mission."

Eric South, technical leader for JIC-P at the Naval Surface Warfare Centre Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), stated that "Field trials play a crucial role in helping us determine future small unit power programs for both the Marine Corps and the Army. We need data and direct feedback from base exercises in order to develop the technologies and systems that will get our troops to power independence, the point at which they are generating and managing as much power as they are consuming."