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Sunlight Becomes Standard Issue

Written by on Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Rifle, side arm, extra magazines, Kevlar vest, MREs, canteen, backpack – these are just a few of the items that every soldier is expected to carry with him at all times. While each of these items is relatively small and light, the weight tends to add up quickly. Reducing the number of pounds strapped to a soldier’s back is a serious and worthy cause that can have a major impact on the endurance, mobility, and morale of soldiers.

The difficulty that stems from this need for light-weight equipment is balancing weight with function. Reducing an item’s weight often involves an increase in pricing or a decrease in reliability. The Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, is hoping to fix all of these issues with REPPS, the Rucksack Enhanced Portal Power System.

The REPPS is essentially a blanket with solar panels on it. The REPPS weighs less than a single battery, enabling it to replace the necessary batteries for several pieces of equipment. The REPPS can replace as much as 10-20 pounds of weight for longer missions, and it has the added benefit of being indefinitely useful. Soldiers can run out of batteries, but they cheap antibiotics never run out of sunlight.

Moreover, the REPPS does not require extensive training to master. A soldier can store or deploy a REPPS in under 20 seconds, making it a reliable, easy-to-use, and light piece of equipment. Additionally, multiple REPPS can attach to each other in a chain to quickly power larger devices.

One subtle benefit of the REPPS is that it reduces the need for soldiers to return to vehicles or tactical centers to replace batteries. The REPPS can be deployed anywhere, thereby enabling soldiers to stay hidden or behind cover, even when their equipment runs out of power.

This piece of equipment is not a distant objective, but a modern accomplishment. U.S. troops are already benefiting from this light-weight piece of technology in Afghanistan. Feedback from troops has been overwhelmingly in favor of the REPPS, so it is clear that the device works in practice just as well as it does in theory. The REPPS is clearly the result of design focused on the soldier’s perspective, as it addresses the daily concerns and needs of soldiers in the field.


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