By applying a specially constructed pad to the surface a vacuum is formed
allowing it to "cling to the wall". The needed vacuum is created with the applied use of pressured air supplied from air tanks (such as those used by firefighters) carried on the user's back. The vacuum effect is constantly measured and adjusted by a computer.
Visual and acoustic warning signals informs the user about the momentary load-carrying capacity of each pad. For safety reasons the computer, which is wired to each pad by data lines, allows only one pad to be free at a time. The pad, when set against a surface adhere automatically and allows itself to be freed by a slight pull upwards. This way a natural movement process is preserved and climbing is quite easily learned.
The "gekkomat" prototype is completely autonomous. i.e. it can be operated
without external energy sources. It grants a safe adhesion on concrete,
sandstone, plaster, wood and naturally smooth surfaces such as glass and
metal. A half hour of operation on a cement wall is possible in the present
configuration. The entire unit weighs about 25 kg and the carry capacity
amounts to one metric ton.
Connecting each pad to a chest belt enables the gekkonaut a chance to free
his hands in order to execute diverse activities.
The user is kept informed of each pad's vacuum effect along with pneumatic
and electrical energy reserves. On each pad is LED display that shows the
present strength level of vacuum while adhering and in stationary positions.
Additionally the vacuum display implements acoustic and visual alarms which
are activated when a minimum vacuum level is not achieved within 2 seconds
of placement on a surface. In such instances the climber must place the pad
in a new area. If irregularities should occur despite intensive safety measures
which are built into the machine, error codes are displayed and alternatives
to solve the situation are offered by the computer.
An arm gauge displays pneumatic and electrical energy reserves. It supplies
information about remaining quantity of air pressure and present battery levels
for electronic operations. In this way the climber has all of his resources under
A further safety control: the "gekkonaut" while in the process of climbing can
only have one pad and not two or more free at a time. A chance of becoming
loose and therefore falling is near to impossible.
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