Spider Style Climbing

Interesting Engineering

This project was developed for the Air Force Research Laboratory Design Challenge in 2012, organized in order to gather ideas for easier wall climbing for their soldiers. The competition was won by the PVAC Design (designer: Ascending Aggies), defeating 32 other teams. The device consisted of  vacuum backpack, support system and suction gloves which are sealed onto the surface when pushed to it. The Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber(the PVAC) allows the average soldier to climb walls made of glass, brick, concrete and any other material.

The “Ascending Aggies” team from Utah State University demonstrated their design by having a soldier climbing the west-end wall of the Dean F. Peterson Engineering Building.


The suction pads grip the wall as the user presses them onto the wall though they are released with the same apparent ease to make moving them easier for the user. Very important detail about the PVAC is that it allows the climber to hang from it without using his hands, which means that a soldier can freely use his weapons or use his communicator devices and navigators while hanging on a few meters above the ground. The award-wining design, however, needs a lot of improvements since it is very noisy and is still quite heavy as well. However, the Air Force has given the team a $100,000 fund to further improve the design though the team has not yet stated whether the design would be available to the civil public or not.