They call it “Z-Man” but only because “Spider Man” had already been taken and put under trademark, said Eugene Choi, Technology Leader for the climbing device developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.
The literature described Z-Man as designed to “enable the warfighter carrying a full combat load to scale vertical walls.”
Choi said the military already had a lot of gear to help with climbing in the field, but “we didn’t have a very good way to climb those surfaces” that troops would meet in city combat, such as glass, concrete or dry wall.
Z-Man prototypes consisted of hand-held devices that stick to any surface and bear loads of more than 300 pounds. The handhelds have ropes that attach to the feet of the climber and literally allow the climber to walk up the wall.