The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, did the moonwalk in 1983. Four decades later, you can do your own version with shoes that make you walk 2.5 times faster—a sort of moving walkway for the feet. Created by US-based Shift Robotics, a startup founded by mechatronics engineer Xunjie Zhang in 2018, the battery-powered sneakers were launched last month. Anything but mere gimmicks, the “world’s fastest shoes” is set to revolutionise how we move.
The pair comes with a brushless DC motor, eight polyurethane wheels with a gearbox to propel the interlocking wheels, mimicking the functionality of much larger wheels, enabling them to traverse uneven terrain effortlessly. But they are not motorised skates, mind you. These hands-free Moonwalkers are versatile across various types of landscapes, boasting a swift full charge time of just 1.5 hours, a range of 10 km, and a convenient lock mode for stairs, activated with a simple gesture. It increases your walking pace up to 11.2 km/h (7 mph)—roughly the pace achieved during long jogging sessions. The 10-km range may not be impressive when compared to e-bikes or e-scooters, but it’s around three to four times more distance than the average an individual covers on foot in a day.
It’s not all easy-peasy though. Users still need to exert some effort; the electronic shoes only amplify the natural walking stride. They are designed to be strapped over regular footwear and feature a hinged structure in the middle, mimicking the flexibility of one’s toes at the ball of the foot, thus ensuring a more natural walking motion. Thanks to intuitive AI, they adapt to one’s walking style. So even though you will feel the additional weight of approximately 1.9 kg on each foot, there won’t be any wobbling around. They are also suitable for off-roading, or shall we say, “off-sidewalking”? Though, in case you were wondering, it won’t turn flat ground into an airport-style moving walkway.
The Moonwalker, initially launched on Kickstarter, achieved its funding goal within two days, raising over $300,000. Shift Robotics has since transitioned to selling them through their website. The shoes come with a hefty price tag of $1,399 (Rs 1,16,470) per pair. Whoever said doing the moonwalk was cheap?