Have you ever felt the need to walk faster in your daily life? Well, neither have I, but technology, as it does, continues to advance each and every day, bringing forth all sorts of weird and wonderful creations. The Moonwalkers, a new innovation developed by a startup called Shift Robotics, are an example of this. To some people, the idea they embody is completely absurd. Meanwhile, to others, they could be the future of walking as we know it.
Walking is the most natural means of mobility we as human beings have, and while electric scooters and bicycles are revolutionizing urban mobility, it seems that no one has ever thought of supercharging the way humans walk. That is, until now. Shift Robotics, a company born from the brilliant minds of folks from Carnegie Mellon University, aren’t electric roller skates, they’re electric shoes that are meant to let you walk up to 2.5 times faster than your normal pace. The way they work is sort of similar to the way pedal assist works on e-bikes. Simply walk as you normally would, and the Moonwalkers will boost each stride you take.
According to the startup, the shoes make use of artificial intelligence to adapt to its users walking style. After all, humans are naturally different, and we all have our own unique ways of walking, as minute the differences may seem. “Thanks to an intuitive AI drivetrain, the shoes adapt to your gait. There’s no new skill to learn or complicated technology to understand. They’re not something you lace up and wobble away on – they’re highly engineered additions to your shoes that you strap on,” the company explained in an article by Electrek.
To put things into perspective, Shift Robotics says that the Moonwalkers can boost your walking speed all the way up to seven miles per hour – about the pace you’d be doing if you were going on a leisurely jog – only your efforts would be akin to that of a stroll in the park. With all that being said, it’s important to note that the Moonwalkers can’t walk for you, as they don’t have a “throttle-only” mode like some e-bikes do. After all, the mechanics of walking involve so much more than just your feet.
Functionally speaking, the Moonwalkers simply strap onto your regular shoes, and feature a hinge in the middle to allow your foot to move naturally with every step. Nevertheless, chances are they’ll take some getting used to as they weigh in at 4.2 pounds each – much heavier than even the bulkiest pair of boots in my wardrobe. When fully charged, they’re said to offer an assisted walking range of up to six miles – much more than the average 1.5 to 2 miles walked by the average American on a daily basis.
Shift Robotics initially launched the Moonwalkers on Kickstarter, with the campaign raking in close to $330,000 as of this writing. The Moonwalkers are also available via Shift’s official website, and carry a rather steep retail price of $1,399. Supercharging your walking experience is something unique and not something we come across very often, if at all. That said, walking in and of itself is already pretty efficient, all things considered, so I’m left to think that the Moonwalkers are little more than a novelty or fancy gadget to show off to your friends. Can you think of any other practical uses for the Moonwalkers?