When the Air Force challenged researchers to design a way to scale a wall without the use of grappling hooks, a team of engineering students at Utah State University responded with the Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber (PVAC).
The PVAC is a system made of a vacuum cleaner backpack and suction pads that allows a person to scale a wall. The system has enough suction power to hold up to 700 pounds and can be used on a variety of surfaces including wood, brick and glass.
The device was built as part of an Air Force Research Laboratory Design Challenge in April. Teams were given $20,000 to build a system that was ready for demonstration within 9 months.
The device was demonstrated to great success, but researchers also realized where the PVAC could use improvement before it gets used in military operations. For example, the backpack, which weighs 48 pounds, could be lighter, and the device is extremely loud.
PC World reports:
“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 you’re trying to stealthily infiltrate will know something is up unless they have regular vacuum wall cleaning service.”
Utah State’s team, known as the “Ascending Aggies,” won $50,000 for the design and received a $100,000 grant from the Air Force to continue refining the device.
Here’s a video of the PVAC in action: