RAPS 'Bat Hook' draws power from overhead power lines

When the Department of Defense asks for a gadget inspired by Batman, you'd better believe the designers are going to come up with something fun.

When the U.S. Department of Defense asks for a gadget inspired by Batman, you'd better believe the designers are going to come up with something fun.

Sometimes, there's no reliable wall outlet available to the troops, who have lots of electronic equipment that needs recharging. Dave Coates, an engineer at a Dayton, Ohio Air Force research lab, was tasked with creating this neat little tool to solve that problem.

RAPS, which stands for Remote Auxiliary Power System, looks an awful lot like its nickname, the Bat Hook. It's designed to latch onto overhead power lines, draw power down into a converter, and convert it from AC to DC to be used to charge gadgets and batteries.

The hook is equipped with a teeny little blade to pierce the thick protective outer covering electrical wires have, and the very tip of that blade is connective, so when it does make contact with the actual wire, it can start bringing power down to the converter.

The specific uses are myriad--it was a military project, but could have lots of civilian use as well. Jump-starting a car's battery on the highway immediately comes to mind. Highways are blanketed with electrical wires but many lack a power outlet to charge either a car's battery or a phone. Provided RAPS is easy to use, it could have great commercial success.

Of course, at the moment it's only for trained Special Ops soldiers; we wouldn't want anyone severing an electrical cable out of inexperience. But it's a great idea, one with, at least, the potential for masked heroics.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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