A system for climbing vertical surfaces

The French patent office granted Raymond Saulnier a patent in 1951 for "a system for climbing vertical surfaces." A British patent followed in 1952.

Saulnier had come up with a way to allow vehicles, or even people, to climb vertical surfaces without the aid of ropes. His insight was that climbing any slope is essentially a problem of adhesion. If a force stronger than gravity is pushing you against the slope, then you won't slide down. And that adhesive force could be supplied by the downward pressure of propellors or jet nozzles.

Of course, powering propellors or jet nozzles requires a lot of energy. So Saulnier imagined powering them with compressed air supplied by a tube from the ground. He suggested that firefighters, among others, might find his system useful for scaling the sides of buildings.

I've never seen a prototype of Saulnier's invention in action. But when I was in Target the other day, I noticed a Sharper Image-branded toy named the "Gravity Rover" that "climbs from floor to wall to ceiling." It occurred to me that this was Saulnier's invention transformed into a toy.

It's a pretty cool toy, but based on videos of it, extremely loud.

     Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 26, 2023
     Category: Technology | Toys | Patents

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