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Scale buildings in a single bound
26 August 2005
SPIDERMAN does it, so does James Bond. Now a gadget has been developed to allow US marines to zip up the sides of buildings or ships with virtually no effort.
All you do is fire a rope to the top of the structure using a harpoon gun or grappling hook, and then fit the rope into the device, called PowerQuick, which attaches to your climbing harness. Then just sit back and squeeze a lever.
PowerQuick has been developed by Quoin International based in Carson City, Nevada, and can lift a load of 145 kilograms at a rate of 1 metre per second. A battery-powered motor turns a series of wheels and cogs to pull the rope through the device. One battery charge is enough to scale the Statue of Liberty five times, or 250 metres in total. If you let go of the device it automatically stops and holds its position, and it can also be used for a slow controlled descent.
Michael Jacobson, president of Quoin, says the company is developing a next-generation device. The US military want a smaller version, so he is working on a device two-thirds the size that can lift 100 kilograms at a rate of 3 metres per second. He has also switched from batteries to a small engine that burns a solid chemical propellant to produce more power for a faster climb.
"It will be a one shot device," says Michael Jacobson. One canister of propellent would be enough for a Navy Seal, say, to shoot up the side of a ship and the fuel could then be replaced in seconds if another climb was necessary. The fuel will be sufficient for a 33-metre climb.