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The BBC's Lindsey Fallow
It could even prove popular among thrill-seekers
 real 56k

Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Suck it and climb
Man BBC
A stuntman climbed a 20-metre glass wall
Anyone who has watched a gecko walk up a pane of glass cannot fail to be impressed by the little creature's amazing sticky feet. And here is the human equivalent - a suction pad device that allows its wearer to clamber up the side of a building.

Inventor BBC
The inventor says the "Gekkomat" could prove useful in rescue work
It is the brainchild of Gerald Winkler, from Herzogenaurach, Germany. The inventor plans to sell the system to the emergency services to help with high-rise rescue operations.

Winkler says his "Gekkomat" is an advance on previous suction devices because it will work on any type of surface - even those made from porous materials like plaster and concrete.

The system was put through its paces by a stuntman for the BBC Science programme Tomorrow's World. He managed to walk up a 20-metre (65-foot) glass wall - though nothing like as fast as a gecko, it has to be said.

Cup BBC
Each cup could easily hold the weight of one person
At the heart of the system are the suction cups, each of which can hold 250 kilograms (550 lbs). They are driven by compressed air piped from a canister that the climber wears on the back.

There is a line of green and red LEDs (light emitting diodes) on the back of the cups, which tells the "Gekkonaut" when valves have created a strong enough vacuum to safely support another step up the wall.

The Tomorrow's World stuntmen found the system to work very well. The one drawback would seem to be the weight; all the gear adds up to a hefty 30 kilograms (66 lbs).

Tomorrow's World is broadcast on BBC One on Wednesdays at 1930 BST

Robot BBC
Robot window cleaners are used on skyscrapers

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10 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
The clean machine
07 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Gecko's amazing sticky feet
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