US Marines, Army go bionic [CANSEC2016D2]

26 May 2016

Bionic Power (Booth 235) of Vancouver, British Columbia, has received US$1.25 million from the US Office of the Secretary of Defense to supply low-volume production units of its PowerWalk Kinetic Energy Harvester for eld trials under the Joint Infantry Company Prototype (JIC-P) programme.

Led by the US Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office, JIC-P is a joint effort between the US Army and US Marine Corps to deliver an energy production, scavenging, management and distribution capability as well as individual water purification capability for dismounted warfighters in austere environments – reducing logistics resupply and increasing self-sustainability. It consists of a kinetic energy harvesting backpack and knee braces, a pocket-sized solar panel, and a central battery networked to radios and electronics via a central power manager.

An important element of the JIC-P programme, PowerWalk is a lightweight, leg-mounted exoskeleton designed to accommodate a soldier’s full range of motion and harvest energy from the natural action of walking, in much the same way regenerative braking works in hybrid cars.

With every stride, the PowerWalk’s onboard microprocessors analyse the wearer’s gait using Bionic Power’s proprietary control so ware to determine precisely when to generate maximum power with the least amount of effort.

On level ground, the device requires minimal user effort to harvest power and, while power generation is its primary benefit, the PowerWalk also reduces muscle fatigue during downhill walking, easing metabolic effort and diminishing the potential for injuries.

Joint testing of the PowerWalk device under the new contract will begin with the Marine Corps and the Army in early to mid-2017.

(259 words)