Nathan Ball, a mechanical-engineering graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led a team that has invented a motorized pulley that will let paramedics and firefighters zip up the side of buildings sort of like Spider-Man.
Ball’s Atlas Powered Rope Ascender can pull a firefighter loaded down with 80 to 100 pounds of equipment up a 30-story building in 30 seconds. Trudging up the stairs weighed down with equipment that heavy can take six to eight minutes.
Atlas exploits the capstan effect, which lets the rope grip tighter each time it wraps around a cylinder. As the grip tightens, more weight can be applied to the line.
The Altas, about the size of a handheld power tool, can lift a 250-pound load more than 600 feet into the air at nearly 10 feet per second on one battery charge.
The 23-year-old Ball has also invented a needle-free method for injecting medicines. It will undergo bovine tests soon, which is based on a laser-assisted delivery device.
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