A team of Utah State University engineering students designed a new system for special operations force capable of allowing a person climb flat buildings using vacuum technology. The system already received first place in the national competition and was created as part of the U.S. the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Design Challenge.
The system developed by the students is comprised of three different components, which together allow the user to gain Spiderman-like wall mounting powers. Using a vacuum ascender, an adhesive anchor and a rope ascender the team was able to create a fairly compact unit which can allow a person to climb a vertical wall with relative ease. -
The challenge presented to the team (as well as more than a dozen others) was to design a working model of a wall mounting apparatus that will be judged based on characteristics such as weight, size, velocity, usability, stealth, innovation etc. With only $20,000 for materials and fabrication and 9 months to come up with a solution this was never going to be a simple task, but the real test was to demonstrate a working unit based on the design (any volunteers?). -
During a competition between the teams who participated in the challenge, the Utah State University team was the only one which was able to allow for four Special Operations personal to climb a 90-foot high concrete cement wall. Utah University team member, student Dan Aguirre commented after the end of the event: “Someone was actually relying on our design to climb a wall. You can’t get that in a textbook.” -
The only major issue with the Vacuum Ascender, besides its somewhat strange look and size is its noise. It’s quite clear that if such a design will ever reach operational capability it needs to be smaller and much quieter to allow troops to infiltrate real enemy targets.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.