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Students Design Spider-Man Tech for Air Force

| 15 Jun 2012 02:28

Utah State University engineers used a vacuum pack to ascend vertical walls.

Any comic book fan knows that Spider-Man does whatever a spider can, but soon the U.S. Air Force may take on one of the wall-crawler's unique abilities. The high-flying military branch sponsored a contest to see if college students could develop an efficient, personal system for climbing vertical walls. A group of engineers at Utah State University stepped up to the challenge and came up with a dual vacuum tube contraption. While the resulting creation is large and noisy, it brought its test subject up a wall safely, and the USAF wants the students to continue their research.

A video of the system demonstrates a student climbing up a vertical wall with a large pack strapped to his back (and a harness attached for safety). The pack consists of two vacuum tubes that generate suction in two handheld pads. Using these pads, the student is able to scale a wall one arm-length at a time without having to secure a spot atop the structure. Unfortunately, because of the racket the system generates (imagine two vacuum cleaners going off simultaneously), it's not ready for reconnaissance missions just yet, but the Air Force sees a promising start. The USU students will receive $100,000 to keep the project moving and develop something that the Air Force can take into the field.

If this project gets off the ground (so to speak), it will be for military purposes, so civilians should not expect to recreate their favorite issues of Spider-Man anytime soon. This means that there will be few opportunities to kiss a girl upside-down in the rain, but you also won't have to see the love of your life thrown off a bridge, so we can probably call this one a draw.

Source: The Sacramento Bee

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