US army tests Spiderman inspired suction pads for climbing
The Pentagon has successfully tested Spiderman-like climbing equipment that could one day allow American troops to scale the sides of glass buildings carrying heavy equipment.
The Z-Man programme is inspired by the climbing skills of spiders and geckos and looks for ways to replicate their abilities for US commandos.
Scientists have designed hand-held suction pads sturdy enough to support a full-grown man as he climbs a vertical surface carrying bulky kit.
The pads were tested at a lab in Massachusetts, where a 16st man was able to go straight up 25 feet of glass using only the paddles.
"The gecko is one of the champion climbers in the animal kingdom, so it was natural for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency to look to it for inspiration," said Dr Matt Goodman.
The US defence department hopes that the new equipment will replace climbing tools such as ropes and ladders, which have not advanced significantly since medieval soldiers scaled castle walls.
The Pentagon also said that the new equipment would allow multiple troops to climb a wall together, while ropes or ladders forced soldiers to climb one at a time, which would put the first climber at the greatest risk.