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Monday, May 30, 2011

Z-Man Technology Enables Soldier Spidermen To Climb Vertical Walls Using Microspines and Magnets

The Z-Man program will develop biologically inspired climbing aids to enable soldiers to scale vertical walls constructed from typical building materials, without using ropes or ladders. Geckos, spiders and small animals are the inspiration behind these climbing aids. These creatures scale vertical surfaces with unique systems that exhibit strong reversible adhesion via van der Waals forces or hook-into-surface asperities.

Z-Man seeks to build synthetic versions of those biological systems, optimize them for efficient human climbing, and use them as novel climbing aids. The overall goal is to enable a soldier to scale a vertical surface while carrying a full combat load using Z-Man technologies.

Credit: DARPA

In  2010, DARPA demonstrated a fully loaded soldier (300 lb) wearing reattachable pads (magnets and microspines) scaling a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials using Z-Man technology.

In 2011, DARPA began the transition  of Z-Man prototype technologies (magnets and microspines) to the Armed Services.

According to DARPA's 2012 budget, the plans are to integrate nanoparticle enabled space propulsion technology and Z-MAN adhesion technologies for operationally relevant space applications such as orbital debris cleanup, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).

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