The Air Force Research Lab in the United States has asked engineering students to assist them in creating gloves that would simplify the process of abseiling (or ‘fast rope’) out of helicopters on ropes.
According to the NorthlandNewsCenter in the U.S., the Air Force says the gloves that already exist suffer from too much friction heat.
Air Force Major, John Zimmerman, said: “You put a guy my size on a rope with 150 lbs on my back, 20-90 feet in the air. That’s a lot of energy that has to be dissipated before I hit the ground.” The Air Force decided to make it a nationwide competition called the ‘Air Force Design Challenge’.
Therefore, the University of Maryland went to work and got a team together to work on a product they could potentially sell off to the Air Force. What they came up with was something they’re calling the ‘Pyroglove’.
The project manager of the team, Ryan Farrely, said: “We wanted something that was simple, that wasn’t going to break when someone steps on it.” The design team manager, Nick Tokar, showed the glove off. The glove consists of “insulated pads” that are in the palm of the hands and will prevent any burns when grabbing rope up to 44 millimetres in width.
Zimmerman is optimistic about the invention, saying, “Getting that glove in the hands of battlefield airman who are at the tip of the spear could be a game changer. And giving them the ability to safely get down the rope, dissipate the heat and immediately engage without having them fumble and get their gloves off is a game changer.”