Robot engineers have unveiled what they believe are the fastest shoes in the world: shoes designed with eight wheels that increase walking speed by 250 percent.
Called Moonwalkers, they fasten your shoes and propel you forward using small electric motors that drive weight wheels, similar to those on roller skates.
The shoes are the brainchild of a team of robotics engineers at Shift Robotics, who got the idea when the founder started walking to work and realized that electric shoes would drastically cut his commute by more than half.
This is because it increases walking speed from the average three miles per hour to seven miles per hour.
The team is marketing the technology, which retails for $1,399, to those “who need speed” and see Moonwalkers as the future of walking.
Moonwalkers aim to revolutionize the way we walk by propelling users forward as they travel from point A to point B
Shift Robotics has a Kickstarter running for its Moonwalkers with a $90,000 goal – the company has generated $82,820 in pledges so far.
The secret sauce for the shoes is the unique machine learning algorithms that adapt to the user’s gait, which Shift Robotics says “makes them an extension of people’s legs.”
The idea came about when founder Xunjie Zhang was riding a scooter to work and nearly got hit by a car.
“Then I started to wonder why I never ran the 30 minutes,” Zhang said in a video.
The pair has eight motorized wheels that adapt to your movements via an AI-powered machine learning algorithm
The algorithm, according to the company, makes the shoes feel more like an extension of the legs and not just blockages on your feet.
Moonwalkers tie your shoes with magnetic straps. However, the pair will cost you $1,399
“It’s not just a safe commute, it’s part of who we are. So I embarked on a mission to improve gait rather than replace it.’
From there, he used his experience as a propulsion engineer for jet engines and spent the last four years finding a way to increase the speed of walking, relying on the body’s own technique.
Zhang and his team, engineers who once worked at Carnegie Mellon, developed a custom motor controller, precision gearbox and efficient battery pack that were all shrunk to a smaller size and intricately placed to make the shoes.
The shoes are powered by battery cells that fully charge in 1.5 hours for a range of over six miles.
Moonwalkers start in Lock Mode, where our electronic brake completely blocks the wheels. To enter Shift mode, where you walk at the speed of a run, lift your right heel in the air and rotate it clockwise to your left leg while keeping your toe on the ground,” Shift Robotics shared. .
“To return to Lock Mode, lift your right heel in the air and return to Earth as usual. Now you’re ready for stairs, buses, trains, or anywhere else you don’t want to walk at the speed of running.”
And as you walk, the AI-powered algorithms teach your movements to provide natural walking motions.
As Zhang mentioned, people want to change the way we walk and a separate innovation from Stanford University is also on the same mission.
Researchers last week unveiled an exoskeleton boot that allows the wearer to walk nine percent faster than normal shoes, and with 17 percent less effort.
The team notes that the increased speed will cut your travel time by more than half
A separate innovation from Stanford University also has the same mission. Researchers last week unveiled an exoskeleton boot that allows the wearer to walk nine percent faster than with normal shoes, and with 17 percent less effort.
The robotic footwear comes with a motor that works with calf muscles to give the wearer an extra push with every step.
The precisely timed motor controls the boot so that it applies a ‘torque’ – a twisting force that can cause rotation about an axis – to the leg joint.
The set-up consists of an exoskeleton ‘boot’ that is worn on each ankle and a battery pack around the waist.
Each boot features sensors to track movement, a motor to produce ‘supporting torques’, a carbon fiber and aluminum frame, and a shoe and calf strap to transfer forces to the body.
The engineers also used a machine learning model to develop their untethered exoskeleton boot — which can be personalized to meet the wearer’s needs.