DARPA’s Z-Man Program Helps Soldiers Climb Glass Walls Like a Gecko

By: | August 6th, 2014

Scaling buildings without any wall climbing equipment might sound like something only Spider-Man or a gecko can do. But scientists have now figured out how to replicate their superpower.

Innovation Inspired by Geckos

The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced the first successful demonstration of that system, known as Z-Man. The Z-Man program was created with the sole purpose of discovering a gecko-inspired wall-climbing method.

Geckos are champion climbers

Geckos can climb almost on any surface with ease due to their sticky toes. Their toes have hundreds of microscopic hair like structures. Each structure is topped off with hundreds of smaller tips called spatulae, which allow a gecko to stick and unstick its feet to a surface with ease.

DARPA has created gecko inspired paddles that could allow soldiers to climb even a wall of glass since the use of ladders and ropes slows down the operation.

The paddles developed by researchers for the Z-Man program are not yet fully efficient like gecko feet. There is an obvious weight disparity, while an average gecko weighs around 6.4 ounces (181 grams), a human on the other hand weighs around 165 pounds (75 kilograms).

The Z-Man designers are using more adhesive force to support the weight of a human. The test of the new technology is still in progress.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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