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"0 to 25 in about 4 seconds, this is top gear for the feet"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Petrol-powered boot lifts off

Petrol power: The boots have not caused injury
A Russian aeroplane engineer has designed petrol-powered boots which boost running speeds beyond that of Olympic sprinters.

Roman Kunikov says his fancy footwear will give people a flying start, propelling them as much as four metres (13 feet) per step.

The boots were tested on Tuesday in a public square in Ufa, a town 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) southeast of Moscow.

Professor Kunikov believes that, as well as being fun, the shoes could be used by rescue services to reach quickly areas inaccessible to vehicles with wheels.

Quick mover

Tuesday's test showed that wearers could achieve speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph), he said. The fastest sprinter at the Sydney Olympics will not surpass 37km/h (23 mph)

We aren't standing still. We're improving the product

Professor Roman Kunikov
The boots are powered by 30-cm (12-inch) pistons strapped to the calf. They fire when the wearer steps down, pushing a metal platform away from the bottom of the shoe. This shoots the wearer up into the air.

The metal plate is connected to the sole of the shoe by springs, so it snaps back into place after each step.

The shoes weigh about one kilogram (2.2 pounds) each, and include a fuel tank, tiny carburettor, spark plug together with associated wires and pipes.

Market driven

The carburettor can be adjusted to take account of different people's weights.

Each boot has its own engine
The fuel lasts for about 25 minutes, Professor Kunikov said, and there have not been any accidents so far.

He is at the Ufa Aviation Technical University which used to work on defence contracts for the Soviet Union, including design projects for the MiG fighter jets.

But when defence budgets dried up after the 1991 Soviet collapse, the university, like hundreds of factories and institutes across Russia, began looking for ideas with value in a capitalist economy.

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