This Vacuum Backpack Lets You Climb Any Type of Wall
By Kevin Lee
Climbing up vertical walls is usually not a daily affair for everyone, except for maybe cats. But for troops who need to quickly scale walls, the Utah State University (USU) “Ascending Aggies” team created a portable vacuum pack with suction gloves.
The Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber (PVAC) is basically a vacuum motor that powers two suction paddles, and you can use it to climb a wall like an octopus. As ridiculous as the idea sounds, it’s actually really effective.
Because it works on the principle of suction, it can stick onto any building surface, whether it be glass, stucco, or brick. The suction the vacuum pack delivers is also powerful enough to hold up anything that weighs between 500 to 700 pounds, depending on the altitude.
The idea is that a single soldier will first climb up with the vacuum ascender, each of which weighs 48 pounds. Once they are up top, they’ll set up a rope winch, which happens to weight 25 pounds by itself, to bring up the rest of the team.
The only problem is that the vacuum pack is not quiet at all; in fact, it’s about as loud as your household vacuum cleaner, so probably everyone inside that building your trying to stealthily infiltrate will know something is up unless they have regular vacuum wall cleaning service.
The system worked so well that it beat out 33 other wall-scaling contraptions–including a Batman-style grappling hook–in an Air Force 90-foot wall-climb competition. The Air Force awarded the team with a $100,000 grant to continue development.
The team plans to improve its system by first reducing the amount of noise it makes. The group also hopes to optimize the system because it is way over powered and not as efficient as it could be. In addition, the team plans to reduce the weight and slim down the PVAC.