Scaling the side of a building without a harness or rope might sound like something only James Bond or Spider-Man can do, but the U.S. Department of Defense has developed a set of sticky handheld paddles that could help soldiers climb up walls.
The paddles are inspired by gecko feet, and during a climbing demonstration this month, they supported a 218-lb. (99 kilograms) man carrying a 50-lb. (23 kg) pack while he scaled a 25-foot-high (7.6 meters) glass wall.
The paddles were developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Z-Man program, a U.S. military program that creates new technologies designed to improve the safety and effectiveness of soldiers fighting in tight urban areas.
One of the essentials for urban soldiers is maneuverability. Gaining the higher ground is a tactical advantage in urban fighting, so soldiers often need to scale buildings and other objects. Toting ropes and ladders slows down a platoon, and the climber who takes the lead is often put in danger, DARPA officials said. [Biomimicry: 7 Clever Technologies Inspired by Nature]