As soldiers are fitted out with more and more electrical sytems to extend their capabilities, they become increasingly dependent on the power needed to run them. Since soldiers in the field don’t always have ready access to an electrical outlet when they need to top up the batteries, the U.S. Air Force has developed a device that taps directly into the electricity flowing through overhead power lines... a kind of bat-hook for real-life superheroes.

Looking like something that would be right at home on Batman’s utility belt, the Remote Auxiliary Power System (RAPS) was developed by engineer Dave Coates for the Air Force in response to requests from special operations soldiers. They were looking for a device that would allow them to tap into overhead power lines to recharge the batteries of their equipment while in the field.

The power lines that run from the street to a house usually consist of one insulated wire that carries electricity to the house, paired with a bare wire that carries electricity away to complete a circuit. For this reason the RAPS head features a razor blade that pierces the covering of the insulated wire while a contact surface on the inside of the head will make a connection with the bare wire.

Once the RAPS is thrown over the wires and forms a circuit, electricity runs down a cable to a custom power supply that converts it from AC to DC voltage so it can be used to recharge the special operations soldier’s equipment. To ensure that the device was safe to use even on wet power lines, the system was tested by placing the RAPS head, power supply and even the power lines underwater. It functioned perfectly with no safety problems.

Obviously, the device’s ability to recharge equipment in the field will be limited to fields with power lines, so the RAPS probably won’t be much help in the depths of the jungle or remote deserts – despite what the Department of Defense’s video below says.

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