Introducing the Moonwalkers, the AI-powered sensation that has taken TikTok by storm. These innovative strap-on shoes, developed by American start-up Shift Robotics, have garnered attention for their ability to boost walking speed by up to 250%. Imagine being able to zip through your daily tasks or walk your dog at a blistering pace, as if you were on a moving walkway.

The Moonwalkers resemble skates in appearance but are designed to maintain balance and stability. Thanks to advanced machine learning algorithms, these shoes only move when you do, allowing you full control over your speed and movement. Whether you need to stop, navigate stairs, or descend a hill, the Moonwalkers adapt seamlessly to your actions. Activating the electronic brake is as simple as lifting your right heel and placing it back down, securely locking the wheels. To return to normal walking speed, lift your right heel and rotate it clockwise while keeping your toe on the ground. It’s a natural transition that puts you in complete command.

A video showcasing the Moonwalkers on TikTok went viral, accumulating a staggering 24.9 million views to date. Xunjie Zhang, the founder and CEO of Shift Robotics, drew inspiration for the invention after a near-crash incident on his scooter during his daily commute. He pondered why walking was underutilized by many, despite its safety, convenience, and environmental benefits. Motivated to enhance walking rather than replace it, Zhang assembled a team of jet propulsion engineers from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotic Institute, along with roboticists and sneaker designers, to develop the world’s fastest shoes that leverage the body’s natural engineering.

Unlike skating, the Moonwalkers require no special skills to learn. They seamlessly integrate with your walking gait, adapting to your unique stride within just a few steps. “Like the moving walkways you see in airports, with every step you’re making, the conveyer belt moves underneath your feet,” explained Zhang. The shoes synchronize with your pace, matching your speed stride for stride. Safety is a top priority, as the Moonwalkers feature a “no freewheeling” mechanism. They remain locked unless you are actively walking, providing a secure and reliable experience. The shoes are equipped with a magnetic buckle that can be easily unfastened in case of any device malfunction.

Since its launch on Kickstarter in October 2022, the Moonwalkers have gained substantial traction, raising nearly $330,000 and receiving over 2,000 orders as of May 2023. Testers ranging from ages 15 to over 60 were able to proficiently walk in the shoes within just 10 to 15 minutes of strapping them on. Currently available only in the United States, the Moonwalkers come with a price tag of $1,399 per pair.

While the Moonwalkers have garnered widespread acclaim, their high cost has sparked some sarcastic comments on social media platforms. Critics have compared them to expensive roller skates and questioned their feasibility on poorly maintained sidewalks. Nevertheless, Shift Robotics has managed to captivate the imagination of individuals seeking a thrilling and efficient walking experience.

With their futuristic design, cutting-edge technology, and ability to revolutionize walking speed, the Moonwalkers have undoubtedly created a buzz in the world of mobility. As people continue to seek ways to enhance their daily routines, these AI-powered strap-on shoes offer a glimpse into a faster-paced future.

By Impact Lab