World’s fastest “shoes” increase walking speed by 250%

You can own a pair of the speed-enhancing sneakers for $1,400, and Shift Robotics, a startup based in Pittsburgh, has created “footwear” that enables you to walk 250% faster without using any additional energy.

If you live in a place where traffic congestion can turn a 20-minute trek into a 5-minute drive, it is typically better for the environment to travel via a scooter, skateboard, or bike rather than taking a car: walk slowly.

Walking can be extremely slow, but those of us who are less coordinated often opt for the incredibly simple option that even a toddler can manage: all of those gadgets necessitate a certain level of expertise to operate. Therefore, instead of taking the chance of having an accident, we choose not to.

“Just walk faster to accelerate and walk slower to decelerate.”

Xunjie Zhang

Zhang Xunjie, a mechanical engineer at Moonwalkers, used a scooter to commute to work but almost crashed into a figure while trying to figure out how to allow people to walk faster without incurring additional safety risks or exerting more energy.

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, he founded Robotics Shift along with a team of engineers, roboticists, and designers. Together, they developed “Moonwalkers,” a kind of cross between motorized roller skates and speed walking shoes that can give the wearer a 250% boost in speed.

How do Moonwalkers work? They are designed to strap onto the bottom of whatever shoes you are already wearing, and you activate them by giving a little twist and lifting one of your heels. Just lift the same heel again to deactivate them and set them back down.

When the sensors in your shoes are activated, they collect data on your gait. This data is then used to control the speed of the motorized wheels, which are located at the bottom of each shoe, using machine learning algorithms.

Zhang stated that there is no need to maintain balance. He suggested that one should just accelerate their walking pace to speed up and decelerate their walking pace to reduce speed.

Walking a mile only requires 8.6 minutes or a pace of 7 miles per hour, a feat attainable by Moonwalkers. If you walk at a speed of 3 miles per hour, which is the typical pace for individuals (approximately 2 to 4 miles per hour), it will take you around 20 minutes to complete a mile.

You are not expending any extra effort yet traveling faster — The experience is described as walking on a sidewalk at an airport. It won’t work up a sweat, but it’s a solid running pace.

If you attempted to halt your jog, it would require a comparable distance, approximately three feet, to come to a complete stop even from maximum velocity — simply cease walking to halt, and there is no need to be concerned about descending a hill quickly since the wheels are always engaged.

The company claims that the shoes can also withstand challenging city landscapes, such as severely damaged sidewalks.

“According to Shift, the streets made of brick and cobblestones can be easily crossed. They have designed a unique drivetrain with 8 wheels that overlap each other, imitating the function of larger wheels, enabling it to conquer rough and gravelly surfaces.”

To secure the wheels, ensure to disable them initially, but you will obtain a small amount of additional physical activity if you have to wear them while ascending stairs. Each “footwear” weighs 4.2 pounds and requires 1.5 hours to completely charge using USB-C, with a distance capability of approximately 6 miles. The specifics: Moonwalkers.

People who wore the beta-tested Shift shoes had no issues while walking in them. These shoes were available in sizes as large as men’s size 14 and as small as women’s size 7. The best fit for Moonwalkers was found between sizes 13.5 to 10.5 for women and 12 to 9 for men.

It is possible that individuals may encounter a reduced maximum velocity and decreased distance, however Shift affirms that individuals with a higher body weight can still utilize them. It is worth noting that Moonwalkers do have a suggested maximum weight limit of 220 pounds.

Shift is offering Moonwalkers for $1,399 to customers in the US, with deliveries scheduled for the summer of 2023. To secure a pair, customers can place a refundable deposit of $50, and the remaining payment will be due once the company finalizes the delivery date.