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Lighten Soldiers' Loads for $1M

Photonics.com
Jul 2007
WASHINGTON, July 5, 2007 -- The Department of Defense is looking for a few good ideas to reduce the weight of batteries in soldier's battlefield equipment.

The department is sponsoring a public competition to develop a wearable electric power system for soldiers -- for prizes of $1 million for first place, $500,000 for second and $250,000 for third.

"The essential electronic equipment that dismounted warfighters carries today -- radios, night-vision devices, global positioning systems -- runs on batteries," the defense department said in a statement. "The competition will gather and test good ideas for reducing the weight of the batteries that service members carry."

The objective is a wearable, prototype system that can power a "standard warfighter's" (in defense department parlance) equipment for 96 hours but that weighs less than half that of the current batteries carried. All components, including the power generator, electrical storage, control electronics, connectors and fuel, must weigh four kgs or less, including any attachments.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams in a final competitive demonstration planned for the fall of 2008 at which they will demonstrate their prototype systems "under realistic conditions," the agency said. The top three competitors that demonstrate a complete, wearable system that produces 20 watts average power for 96 hours but weighs less than 4 kgs (~8.8 lbs) will be awarded the prizes.

A public information forum will be held in September in the Washington, D.C., area to brief potential competitors on technical details, competition rules and qualification requirements. Competitors must register to participate by Nov. 30, 2007. The competition is open for international participation; however, the individual or team leader must provide proof of US citizenship.

For more information, visit: www.dod.mil/ddre/prize


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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