Seems like the U.S. Army had a bit of an “oh shit” moment when they realized that they’d need a lot of juice to keep their “soldier of the future’s” electronic kit powered-up. Because the military can never have enough acronyms, or rely on easily available, low-tech, locally scroungeable solutions (i.e. AAA batteries), they’ve developed SWIPES (Soldier Worn Integrated Power Equipment System). “The conformal, lithium-ion battery and docking system made by Arotech which received an initial order from the Army for 350 systems in February, reduces battery weight soldiers carry by up to 30 percent because only one battery will be used to charge radios, night-vision goggles, GPS units, shot-detection systems and smartphones,” armytimes.com reports. “It charges only those systems that need it, when they need it. The battery that supplies the energy weighs about two pounds.” Want one? Two? Three?
yes, the government tends to overcomplicate things and throw money at the problem. my favorite example is the approach nasa used to writing in space, they spent million developing a zero gravity pen. the russians gave their cosmonauts pencils. i’ve heard that story for years. if it ain’t true it should be.
Not sure how much stock you put into Snopes, but here it is anyway. Do with it what you will.
Pencils have their limits also, as the graphite “leads” can smudge and be unreadable. Also, I’m sure NASA looked at if the graphite could be a hazard in the 100% oxygen atmosphere of the Apollo vehicles. I don’t know if it is or not. Space has its special considerations. I do agree that government spec writers do overcomplicate most of the time.
So when this thing dies, then the soldiers ability to charge batteries is gone and when each other item runs out of charge, he has nothing. Most military specification writers do not understand the K.I.S.S. principal that should be the mantra of every designer, Keep It Simple and Safe! Or the designer looks in the mirror and repeats Keep It Simple Stupid! This just adds more complexity to the mix. What is wrong with rechargeable AA and AAA batteries and a flexible solar panel? The batteries are available “almost” anywhere and alkaline AA and AAA batteries can be substituted if necessary. Technology is wonderful, up to a point! We need warriors who know how to fight, not technicians who know how to keep all of their gadgets working in the dust of the desert.
Any guesses as to how much the Army is overpaying for these batteries?
At least a factor of 10. Probably more.
All your devices tied back to a single possible point of failure. Pure F***ING GENIUS.
Was this deramt up by the same guy that wanted one camouflage pattern to be worn anywhere on the planet, thereby ensuring the troops would blend well NOWHERE on the planet?
Being Infantry and being the RTO/Javelin gunner/general battery mull, I will thank the holy Heavens if this system works well. You also have to consider the fact that if one of the rechargeable 5590 batteries takes a 7.62, it spews toxic fumes and bursts into flames in about a minute and thirty seconds. Not the most pleasant thing to be carrying in bulk on your back.
Don’t Li-ion batteries explode and burn rather spectacularly when punctured? And they want soldiers to wear this “conformal” pack right next to their bodies?
It depends on the chemical mix in the batteries. If you puncture cell phone battery, no. If you puncture one of the battery cells used to power a downhole tool used in the oil industry, yes.
I can understand the weight savings, and using lipo batteries makes sense, however there should be a backup. For critical gear you should be able to hook up AA packs to it to keep you going for certain things in the event of an emergency.
Can no one be bothered to read what the hell the thing actually does before whining about points of failure?
It’s an auxiliary battery used for charging devices, which implies those devices have their own redundant internal power supplies. This thing just charges them when necessary.
In short, this is a replacement for lugging around half a dozen spare batteries of different types on multi-day missions. It increases density and reduces weight, which is good. It also allows for soldiers to use each other’s battery system in a standardized way should theirs become damaged, rather than play musical batteries if theirs runs dry, which is also good.
More people ought to read your post. I’m glad I did before writing something ill-advised.
I am concerned that the Army still isn’t EMP-hardening enough of their equipment, but – that’s a totally different subject. I can’t see any downside to standardization in this case; it’s not going to crowd out specialized devices for operating in harsh environments and in fact may well do a much better job recharging devices in harsh environments than pre-existing civilian and cobbled-together “solutions” for recharges. The last thing our soldiers need to carry along is a set of cigarette lighter plug adapters and chargers for every device.
Yes, it is an auxilliary battery. Intended to replace individual spares, in order to save weight. I get it. Problem is, if an individual on board battery fails, device is done. If the single auxiliary battery fails, or the hub does, or the cable does, and the individual device battery dies, device is done.
Or you could carry charged spares for your devices, to retain resilience…and you’re back to square one.
Perhaps if an on board fails, the device will jump it out of the circuit, and power the device directly off the aux ps, but I didn’t see that in the material.
Add that this whole thing is likely 100% proprietary, and it sounds an awful lot to me like a solution to a problem that only exists if you think that a simple battery standardization wouldn’t solve the problem.
Why do soldiers need to charge smart phones in combat?
To play angry birds during lulls in firefights.
There are quite a lot of particularly useful apps in use with regard to mapping, reference material, ballistics computers, translators, and so on and so forth.
Why does the website for the product say it is a Zinc Air battery while the army says it is a Lithium battery?
Never mind, they are listed as optional power sources.
Sounds like an army project that may actually make sense.
If you want to experience battery sizes and configurations that you never knew existed, joining the military is a good way to do so. I’m a fan of the CR123’s due to their energy density, decent operating temperature range, and availability.
I just hope that the military doesn’t over – pay too badly. Again.
The military doesn’t overpay for anything, since it’s not their money. We, on the other hand, pay through our noses.
Somebody has to say it…. I thought SWIPES were those things you used on a baby’s butt while changing diapers.
Having served on a Cold War submarine, I’m sure the military will carefully ensure that all systems work as advertised before issue and the Pentagon will pay a fair market price without being gouged by greedy contractors with a few retired generals in their pockets. I mean, there has to be a first time for everything….