Batteries not included

Batteries not included

Walking soldiers recharge their batteries with a new device that transforms their energy into electricity
December 12, 2012

Today’s armed forces depend on technology to keep the peace. The foot soldier, in particular, is increasingly reliant upon portable electronic devices for staying safe. On a 72-hour mission, for example, soldiers can carry as much as 13 kilograms of batteries to power their equipment, which limits their range and speed. Supplying a constant stream of batteries is also costly. Depending on distance, the logistical cost of getting a 30-cent battery to a soldier in the field can range from $3 to $30.

Bionic Power Inc. will help save these costs. Based in Burnaby, B.C., the company develops products that will soon generate their own power for soldiers, professionals and consumers. Founded by Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University, Bionic Power Inc. has been in business for four years, employs approximately six staff and has developed an energy harvesting walking device called the PowerWalk™ M-Series. The device, which is approximately two years away from market, is worn on the legs and captures energy that would normally be wasted during walking and converts it into electricity. For a soldier, the PowerWalk™ M-Series could save $135 in batteries a day. Assuming a soldier has 200 mission days per year, this translates to $27,000 in savings per soldier per year.

The Canadian Department of Defence, the United States Army, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) have recently funded Bionic Power Inc. for further product development and testing before it can be sold for use on the battlefield and later in other professional fields.