Air Force to turn troops into Spider-Men with vacuum wall scaler

Vacuum wall scalers aren't exactly a new invention. But, dang it, the Air Force is eyeballing the technology to allow special forces units to scale buildings — Spider-Man style. Now we're talking.

In an Air Force-sponsored competition, engineering teams from 17 universities had a chance to win $50,000 if they could come up with a design that would allow a four-person team to scale a building or mountain without a grappling hook.

The condition? The system had to be under 20 pounds. Only one university succeeded: Utah State University's "Ascending Aggies." Their invention: the PVAC aka Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber.

Deseret News had a chance to chat up a few of the engineering students, and here's what they had to say:

The USU team's design used vacuum suction pads to enable two climbers to quickly scale the wall. "It's almost like the motion of climbing a ladder," mechanical engineering student Garrett Vaughan said, "or if you wanna talk superheroes, maybe you can consider Spider-Man."

This isn't your average vacuum backpack. Each side pulls 4.5 psi of force. "To power it, we've got batteries in an ice cream bucket," said team member Steven Daniels.
The foamy ends conform to the shape of the wall, and on the feet are a type of vinyl liner for traction.

Each of the 16 losers universities also received $20,000 for their contributions, but USU is the only one to walk away with the grand prize and a chance to grab up another $100,000 to improve on its current design; namely to make it lighter and more usable.

That's fine and dandy, now let's get some S.W.A.T. teams suited up in these climbers to climb some skyscrapers!

Video of the vac-suit in action below. Note: it's pretty loud, which won't do much for being stealthy when New York is being attacked by Green Goblins.

YouTube, via Deseret News and Geekologie

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