The US Army is testing a new app-based mission planning tool that enables soldiers to optimise their energy supplies for deployments, taking into account the configuration of the equipment that they are carrying as well as the expected environmental conditions.
The US Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) and the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have developed iPower to give soldiers a tool they could use to quantitatively estimate how much energy they will need, Dr Richard Stroman, senior mechanical engineer, alternative energy section, chemistry division, at NRL, told Jane’s .
“We created a smartphone app so [soldiers] can go in and choose the load they will need to take to accomplish their mission and then it will recommend which equipment they will need to take – batteries, solar panels, energy harvester, that sort of thing,” Stroman said.
iPower not only provides information on power needs but also computes requirements with some knowledge of the environment, Stroman added. “It knows where you are, what time it is, it also has a climate data base so it can estimate how much energy a solar panel produces.”
For example, if it is a sunny, clear day, iPower, might recommend energy harvesting devices such as a solar blanket. The weather information used by iPower is based on historical data from the past 18 years, collected and provided by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Colorado, Jose Collazo, lead for the soldier power management team at CERDEC, told Jane’s .
One of the big impediments to using energy harvesters is that they are unaware of how much energy to expect from their solar panels, Collazo said, noting that iPower will perform such assessments and make appropriate recommendations.
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