From Technology Review…
It takes about six minutes for a firefighter with a full load of gear to reach the top of a 30-story building by running up the stairs–and when he gets there, he’s tired. A group of MIT students have designed a rope-climbing device that can carry 250 pounds at a top speed of 10 feet per second. They have a contract to make the climbing device for the U.S. Army for use in urban combat zones, and they hope to make it available to rescue workers.
The students founded a company, Atlas Devices, based in Cambridge, MA, to commercialize the device, which is about the size of a power drill.
It’s amazing: see the video on the Atlas site.