Moonwalkers give users a powered boost as they walk
Although they may look like just another set of strap-on electric roller skates, the Moonwalkers are actually a bit different. You walk as you're wearing them, with their motorized wheels increasing your walking speed by a claimed 250 percent.
Designed by Carnegie Mellon University spinoff company Shift Robotics, the Moonwalkers are currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. They can reportedly be attached to a wide variety of shoes, utilizing their adjustable straps and quick-release magnetic buckles.
As the wearer walks, a 300W brushless motor in each 4.2-lb (1.9-kg) Moonwalker spins up the device's eight polyurethane wheels, providing a sensation sort of like walking on a "moving sidewalk" in an airport. Sensors in both Moonwalkers continuously communicate with one another, utilizing machine-learning-based algorithms to monitor the user's gait – the faster or slower that person walks, the faster or slower the wheels will go.
That said, wearers can reportedly decelerate from the 7-mph (11-km/h) top speed to a full stop within a distance of less than 1 meter (3.3 ft). Additionally, the Moonwalkers regulate their wheel speed when heading downhill, so users won't go careening out of control.
Each unit has a hinge behind the toe section, allowing it to flex like a shoe at the end of each stride – so, walking while wearing the Moonwalkers shouldn't be like walking in rigid downhill ski boots. Additionally, utilizing simple foot movements, it's possible to switch between Shift and Lock modes.
In Shift, the wheels are free to spin as the user walks. In Lock, however, they remain locked in place. This means that the user can do things like climbing stairs or even just standing in one place, without worrying about their feet rolling out from underneath them.
One 1.5-hour charge of each unit's lithium-ion battery is claimed to be good for a range of approximately 6 miles (9.7 km), depending on factors such as walking speed and terrain.
Assuming everything goes according to plan, a pledge of US$899 will get you a pair of Moonwalkers – the planned retail price is $1,399. You can see them in action, in the video below.