One day, military personnel and civilians alike will enjoy much-simplified electronic lives. Until then, most of us are stuck with a plethora of batteries, connectors and chargers for the electronic devices so vital to our lives. Most, that is, except for Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians, who should soon lose about 41 pounds worth of battery devices thanks to a lightweight power system developed by the Office of Naval Research’s TechSolutions Program.
The group, responding to a request from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2, partnered with Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, Ind., and Protonex Technology Corp.. to develop the Power Management Kit. Typically, an EOD team carries 50 pounds of battery devices to power its unique gear — a platoon’s worth would fill a four-foot by four-foot table, according to EODTEU 2.
The new PMK contains common military rechargable batteries, a solar-powered blanket, a one-pound Soldier Power Manager unit and “smart” cables to link the SPM with EOD equipment. The SPM charges batteries and powers up gear by harnessing energy from a variety of sources, according to the TechSolutions Program. The PMK also includes a graphical interface that displays information about batteries, power usage, state of charge and operational details.
All of that weighs just nine pounds.
The beauty of the setup is that any new equipment can be supported by simply adding a new cable — so, the SPM itself never needs an upgrade. Currently, most of an EOD team’s gear uses different power sources, so each requires the carrying of multiple single-purpose batteries to power up.
Five units have been shipped to EODTEU 2 for a trial.