The US Department of Defense is running a competition in which it has challenged teams of engineers to develop a wearable electric power system for soldiers.
The competition will take place in the autumn of 2008 and the prizes are enormous: $1m for first place, $500,000 for second place and $250,000 for third place.
The essential electronic equipment that soldiers carry today - radios, night vision devices, global positioning system - all run on batteries.
The objective of the competition is to develop a wearable, prototype system that can produce 20W average power for 96 hours but weighs less than half that of the current batteries that are carried.
All components, including the power generator, electrical storage, control electronics, connectors and fuel must weigh four kilograms or less, including any attachments.
Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams in a final competitive demonstration planned for the autumn of 2008. At this 'wear-off,' individuals or teams will demonstrate their prototype systems under realistic conditions. The top three competitors that meet the technical criteria will win the prizes.
A public information forum will be held in September in the Washington, DC area to brief potential competitors on the technical details, the competition rules, and qualification requirements.
Competitors must register to participate in the prize program by November 30, 2007.
The competition is open for international participation; however the individual or team leader must provide proof of US citizenship.
Details on the forum, as well as contest registration and rules are posted on the Defense Research and Engineering Prize Web site at http://www.dod.mil/ddre/prize.