Robotics Startup Unveils the World’s Fastest Walking Shoes

A Pittsburgh-based robotics and engineering startup recently unveiled Moonwalkers, a pair of battery-powered shoes that it claims can boost walk speeds by up to 250%.

At first glance, Moonwalkers look like a pair of futuristic rollerskates, but there is actually a lot more to them than that. You’re actually meant to walk with them the way you would regular shoes or sneakers, letting the motorized wheels put a spring in your step. Powered by a state-of-the-art brushless DC motor, this ingenious contraption is actually a platform that can be attached to a wide variety of footwear to significantly increase your walking speed up to a reported 7mph/11kph. For comparison, humans’ average walking speed ranges from 2.5 to 4 mph. The sensation of walking with the world’s fastest shoes has been compared to that of walking on a ‘moving walkway’ in an airport.

Photo: Shift Robotics

Designed by Shift Robotics, an offshoot of Carnegie Mellon University, Moonwalkers consist of a 300W brushless motor in each 4.2-lb (1.9-kg) shoe that powers eight polyurethane wheels. There is also an AI-powered gearbox that increases or decreases speed according to data regarding the wearer’s walk collected by a series of sensors. The shoes are also able to detect downhill movement to prevent accidents.

“Moonwalkers are not skates. They’re shoes. The world’s fastest shoes actually,” Xunjie Zang, founder and CEO of Shift Robotics said. “You don’t skate in them. You walk. You don’t have to learn how to use them, the shoes learn from you.”

Photo: Shift Robotics

But do the world’s fastest shoes work on uneven terrain, or things like stairs? We all know how tricky those are to mitigate in rollerskates. Well, apparently the designers took that into consideration and implemented a simple gesture that allows the wearer to lock the wheels so that they can walk up or down stairs as they would in regular footwear.

Moonwalkers were recently unveiled as part of a Kickstarer campaign that has already reached almost double its crowdfunding goal of $90,000. The first batch is expected to ship in March of 2023, at a retail price of $1,399. That’s not cheap, but then again, this isn’t your average pair of shoes, it’s the world’s fastest pair of shoes.