Moonwalker shoes, created by Shift Robotics, are electric shoes that claim to help people walk 250% faster.
According to Xunjie Zhang, the founder and CEO of Shift Robotics, the Moonwalker is the “world’s fastest shoe.” Zhang has a background in robotics engineering, holding a Master’s in mechatronics from Carnegie Melon University and he previously worked for three years at Rolls-Royce.
“Like the moving walkways you see in airports, with every step you’re making, the conveyor belt moves underneath your feet,” Zhang stated.
While the average person can cover about three miles per hour at a walking pace, the Moonwalkers are meant to move at speeds up to seven miles per hour.
“The faster you walk, the faster the shoes walk with you,” Zhang said. Thus far, the project raised $330,000 on Kickstarter by the end of the campaign and has gained some attention on TikTok as well.
To build the shoes, Zhang worked with a team of race car engineers, roboticists, and sneaker designers. Over the course of five years, they formed the company Shift Robotics and designed Moonwalkers.
“He was trying to get to work and was frequently late,” stated Abe Pleta, the lead mechanical and design integration engineer and third employee at Shift Robotics. “He thought, ‘Okay, I’ll buy a scooter, so I don’t have to look for parking spots. And then, I’m going to get hit by a car. I need to use the sidewalk. Walking is too slow. How can we make it faster?’ That is the genesis of the idea.”
The design contains ten wheels, four motorized two-wheel clusters, and a pair of non-motorized wheels in the front. The ball of the foot is used to activate the wheels’ movement (similar to roller skates/blades).
The wheels are made of polyurethane and the shoes also include drive trains and a battery. This makes the shoes a bit heavy, weighing approximately four pounds, and the battery will give users approximately a six-mile range.
To use the shoes, you place your foot in the Moonwalkers and strap the Velcro straps over whatever shoes you’re wearing. To unlock the shoes, you give the right shoe a heel pivot which turns the white light on the side to green.
The shoes were tested on people from the ages of 15 to over 60 and most participants found they were able to walk “pretty proficiently” within 10-15 minutes of putting on the Moonwalkers.
The team also ensured that there were safety features in place, including a locking feature for when the shoes aren’t in use and a magnetic buckle to secure the shoes or remove them in the event of a malfunction.
Moonwalkers launched on Kickstarter last October and has since received over 2,000 orders. They are currently only available in the US and they cost $1,399 per pair. They’re also currently only available in one size, which fits men’s shoe sizes 9 to 12.
“We are ultimately looking at helping every pedestrian,” Zhang stated.