Saturday, July 08, 2000

Will gas-powered boots fuel the fashion industry?

By Andrew Kramer
The Associated Press

        MOSCOW — His fashion sense isn't as elegant as Gucci's, but Roman Kunikov says his gasoline-powered boots are a step forward in footwear — as much as 13 feet for each stride.

        Mr. Kunikov is one of the professors at a Russian engineering institute who designed the boots that were tested this week in a public square in Ufa, 750 miles southeast of Moscow.

        The test showed that wearers can achieve speeds of up to 25 mph, Mr. Kunikov said.

        The boots incorporate 1-foot pistons that strap along the calf and fire downward after the wearer steps down, pushing a metal plate away from the bottom of the shoe — and the wearer up into the air.

        The shoe works in a rhythm with the wearer's step. As he steps down, his body weight resets the piston, which then fires and pushes him on his way. The plate is connected to the sole of the shoe by metal rods that work as shock absorbers. The shoes use ordinary gasoline, Mr. Kunikov said.

        “A person can move with significant jumps or strides,” said Mr. Kunikov, a professor at the Ufa Aviation Technical University.

        The university formerly worked on defense contracts, but when defense budgets shriveled, the university went searching for a niche in the capitalist economy.

        The shoes weigh about 2 pounds each, including a fuel tank, tiny carburetor, spark plug and wires and pipes. Mr. Kunikov said there have been no accidents so far.

        He also said he would continue to refine his product.

        “We aren't standing in one place,” he said.


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- Will gas-powered boots fuel the fashion industry?