DARPA calls it the Z-Man program and it's developing advanced technology for the military to scale structures vertically just like Spiderman. Scientists are creating biologically inspired climbing tools to enable warfighters to climb vertical walls, while carrying a full combat load, without any ropes or ladders. It's a program inspired by nature that's designed to save precious time and lives. This technology would also prove invaluable in other circumstances such as for first responders and firefighters.
Climb like a Spider
Small animals. spiders and geckos inspired this advanced research program. They scale vertical surfaces using unique bio-complex systems. Specifically strong reversible adhesion or "hook into surface asperities". Z-man is building synthetic versions of these biological systems for humans as novel climbing aides.
Climb Every Mountain
Geckoskin has been developed. It's a stiff fabric that's synthetically fabricated with reversible adhesive that enables what's called reverse absorption and the ability to climb vertically. In testing, 16 inches of geckoskin adhering to a vertical wall supports up to 660 pounds. As in the case of lizards, the climbing assist for humans would be placed in the hands and feet. Another product, Gecko Nanoadhesives has been created at Draper Labs in suburban Boston and is now under development. The research focus is to provide quick scaling, entrance and exit, for soldiers. The development of scaling tech involves the disciplines of bio-complexity and advanced material sciences. This is a top priority military R&D program that DARPA is putting substantial resources into.