Let’s start out by defining what a battery charger does—A battery charger is a device intended to restore power to batteries by forcing an electric current through them. It’s pretty basic; but when it comes to the military, this most-basic of processes becomes most-crucial regarding vital communications systems, for example, which would come to a screeching halt without charged batteries to power the electronics.
Portable electronic devices have absolutely transformed warfare, and when additional electronics are added to the list of already-existing ones, they, too, must be manually transported by the soldiers themselves, in addition to hauling all the respective battery chargers. This, of course, can prove to be very burdensome, forcing soldiers to carry even more weight. The average US soldier, on a 72-hour mission, will carry a whopping 20 pounds of batteries, alone, and then you add additional bulky chargers to the mix.
It’s Not Just About The Weight
The batteries are heavy and cumbersome but that’s only half the story. The logistics involved with so many batteries can become an organizational nightmare. Recharging batteries in the field has been known to produce exasperation since charging vast varieties of batteries has created compatibility issues–damaging batteries and equipment with incorrect chargers and the unthinkable situation of having life-saving electronic equipment with no usable chargers on hand.
Surprisingly, there has been a gap between a soldier’s need for power and the availability of that required power as it applies to what is termed a “Tier-1” environment. This type of environment involves the most merciless conditions and situations such as remote areas of Afghanistan.
Fortunately, the US Army Research Center has developed a universal battery charger designed to keep a variety of electronics powered in environments where functioning equipment can make the difference between life and death.
The New-And-Improved Battery Charger
To begin with, technology from the 1990’s is being transformed by minimizing the size of current battery chargers. Older versions of military battery chargers that are not 100% replaced, as of yet, are the size of a typical suitcase while the newer versions have been shrunk down to the size of a shoe-box and weigh only 6 pounds, making them very mobile. Features of this new and improved universal battery charger include:
1: It will work with any power source ranging from a generator to a cigarette lighter.
2: It has a built-in solar panel that can be used when other energy sources are compromised.
3: It, like other military-grade equipment, is very rugged and completely waterproof.
4: It can charge various types of batteries simultaneously—eight batteries and two USB devices at once.
5: It can be credited as being a morale booster since it will charge iPods and smartphones for use during down-time.
6: It can “talk” to batteries: the circuitry of individual batteries tells the charger how it wants to be charged to perform very specific functions. The charger has the capability of responding to each battery’s commands.
Oh, And Did I Mention
Soldiers actually wear batteries that conform to the soldiers’ uniform where each pocket becomes more than a pocket, but an actual charging port. These batteries bend to the shape of a soldier’s body; and the universal battery chargers are designed to work hand-in-hand with these flexible, body-conforming batteries. The bendable batteries can actually top-charge all command, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technological field equipment.
Believe it or not, a soldier can charge smaller devices as they rest in pants or vest pockets, even while on the move. This eliminates the need to swap new batteries during dangerous combat situations.
It’s only right that the brave men and women who defend our freedoms be equipped with the best technology, possible!