Canberra, June 20 : Future soldiers might sport army uniforms fitted with solar panels to allow them to generate power in the field and charge batteries for radios, phones and laptops.
The panels, being developed by researchers at the Australian National University (ANU), rely on thin, flexible elongated solar cells and could potentially be fitted onto helmets, uniforms or radios.
They could help address a growing problem for the modern soldier: the need to power an increasing number of portable electric devices without getting weighed down by batteries.
Dr Igor Skryabin, from the ANU's Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, has devolved the solar powered uniform.
According to Skryabin, the problem facing the modern defence force at the moment is over-reliance on batteries.
Soldiers are equipped with lots of electronic devices. While you can transmit data wirelessly, you cannot transmit energy wirelessly, he added.
"The only thing reliable anywhere in the world is light. The best thing to do is to find a way to convert light into electricity," said Skryabin.
"As any good developer, you need to diversify and rely on various power sources. I believe movement-based power is possible and has a good future as well," he added.
Aside from the panels project, which received 2.1 million dollars in funding, other proposals include a grenade-launching rifle, a GPS anti-jamming device and a project to reduce the vibrations of submarines.
"It may be that they do not all succeed and that they cannot be developed further, but we want to make sure we are developing cutting edge technology that can assist our Defence Force and advance our security," said the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon.
"The program gives funding outside the government some additional resources to advance the research. It can also lead to big savings and spin-offs for civilian use," he added.