Shift Robotics, a startup emerging from Carnegie Mellon University, has introduced a novel concept: Moonwalkers, motorized shoes designed to accelerate your walking speed, helping you reach your destinations faster. While it might sound like a gimmick at first, these electric shoes aim to be far from it.

The Moonwalkers claim to increase an average user’s walking speed by up to 2.5 times, potentially reaching a brisk 11.2 km/h (7 mph). These shoes won’t transform your path into an airport-style moving walkway, but as long as you’re walking, they’ll complement your stride, allowing you to cover more ground with less effort.

These are not electric skates; the idea is to maintain a natural walking motion. Moonwalkers attach over your regular shoes and are hinged in the middle, mimicking the way your toes bend at the ball of your foot for a more fluid walking experience. Although you’ll notice an extra 1.9 kg (4.2 pounds) on each foot, the increased walking speed should offset the additional weight – almost like an ’80s-style ankle weight workout.

Shift Robotics designed the solution to be as intuitive as possible, thanks to an AI drivetrain that adapts to your gait. There’s no new skill to learn or complex technology to understand; these are highly engineered shoe additions that you can easily strap on.

On a single charge, Moonwalkers are said to last for up to 6 miles (10 km). While this might seem limited compared to the ranges of e-bikes and e-scooters, it still covers three to four times the average daily walking distance for Americans – a rather depressing statistic.

Shift Robotics initially launched the Moonwalker electric shoes on Kickstarter, and after achieving their funding goal in just two days and raising over US $300,000, they are now available for purchase directly from their website. However, the price tag may come as a shock – a set of Moonwalker shoes will set you back $1,399.

Although these shoes may seem a bit extravagant for most, they could potentially prove beneficial for individuals with jobs that involve substantial daily walking, such as Amazon warehouse workers or postal service employees with regular walking routes. Additionally, the “e-bike effect” could come into play here, encouraging more walking due to the added fun factor and reduced effort associated with increased speed. Walking a mile to the grocery store in just eight minutes might become a more appealing option when you’re suddenly moving at 7 mph. For the majority, though, increasing daily step count with traditional shoes remains the practical choice.

By Impact Lab