Soldiers take a walk to recharge their batteries

It could be light years away or coming soon to an Army shop near you.

The Army is testing backpacks that self-generate power while troops are on the move, potentially eliminating the need for big clunky batteries that are used to power everything from night-vision goggles to radios.

Engineers at the Army Research Laboratory are in the middle of testing the prototype Energy Harvesting Backpack, which uses a special frame mounted to the standard-issue assault pack carried by troops. The contraption glides up and down as soldiers walk, according to the Army. As the pack moves, enough energy is generated to recharge the soldier’s batteries, an Army release stated.

So far, 12 Army civilians and contractors have been tested, according to the Army.

Results have not yet been released, but the technology still has one obstacle to overcome: It is heavy. The backpack weighs about 15 pounds.

“That's not insignificant because soldiers are already heavily loaded down,” the Army release stated.

For now, the focus is on measuring whether the device can generate enough energy to meet a soldier’s needs in the field.

“We need that knowledge first before proceeding," said Courtney Webster, a biomedical engineer with the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in the Army release.

Test results are expected to be published in the spring.


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