DOD narrows field for Wearable Power Prize

The Defense Department has named 107 teams as qualified to compete for its Wearable Power Prize. The competition is scheduled to begin Sept. 29 at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

The organizer of the competition ' the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (ODDRE) ' cleared the teams to advance to the contest's next phase after reviewing their plans for batteries and fuel chemicals and determining that they would be safe to compete. A total of 169 teams entered the competition last fall, and they submitted battery and fuel plans earlier this year for the initial safety review.

Entrants must submit descriptions of their prototype power supplies, their configuration, system wiring diagrams and additional information on the systems' safety by June 3. The ODDRE will review those plans to further evaluate whether the systems can safely take part in the competition and will issue a final list of teams determined to be safe and approved to compete by July 15.

DOD's goal is to significantly slash the weight of power supplies soldiers must carry to operate a growing variety of electrically powered equipment. Today, the power supplies typically run on batteries, which DOD estimated could soon weigh 9 kilograms (20 pounds) per soldier on a 96-hour mission.

The three teams with systems that weigh less than 4 kilograms and provide 20 watts of electrical power for 96 hours will win $1 million for first prize, $500,000 for second prize and $250,000 for third prize.

The contest will begin in September with a 92-hour bench load test that has demands comparable to the military's current and future power requirements. Systems that last through the bench test will take part in a final four-hour 'wear-off' competition Oct. 4 to determine the first-, second- and third-place winners.

The list of registered teams is available here.

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