We have developed the suspended-load backpack, which converts mechanical energy from the vertical movement of carried loads (weighing 20 to 38 kilograms) to electricity during normal walking [generating up to 7.4 watts, or a 300-fold increase over previous shoe devices (20 milliwatts)]. Unexpectedly, little extra metabolic energy (as compared to that expended carrying a rigid backpack) is required during electricity generation. This is probably due to a compensatory change in gait or loading regime, which reduces the metabolic power required for walking. This electricity generation can help give field scientists, explorers, and disaster-relief workers freedom from the heavy weight of replacement batteries and thereby extend their ability to operate in remote areas.
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