Three years ago we heard about the SkySaver, a rescue backpack that lets you descend from a burning high-rise via an integrated reel of steel cable. Well, now it's in for some competition from the SkySpider, which offers at least one unique feature.
Users of the original SkySaver start by getting an anchor point professionally installed on the wall of their apartment or office.
In the event that a fire breaks out on a floor beneath them, blocking the stairwell, they then put on the backpack, attach the end of its cable to the anchor via an included carabiner, then climb out the window and let the cable unwind from the reel, lowering them to the ground. That cable unwinds at a controlled rate of around 6 ft (1.8 m) per second, so the user doesn't just go into free-fall.
The SkySpider works in much the same way, utilizing a stainless steel cable to let users weighing no more than 298 lb (135 kg) descend from a height of up to 295 ft/90 m (depending on the model) at a steady rate of 6.6 ft (2 m) per second.
It also has an integrated hand brake, however, allowing users to temporarily halt their descent. According to the designers, this could come in handy if flames/smoke are coming from a window directly below the user – they could apply the brake, make their way laterally across the side of the building to go around that window, then continue downwards.
It's also considerably lighter than its main competitor, with the full 295-ft-reel version tipping the scales at a claimed 9.5 kg (20.9 lb), as compared to 11.7 kg (26 lb) for the 260-ft-reel model of the SkySaver.
If you're interested, the SkySpider is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of US$539 will get you a kit containing a backpack with a 25-m (82-ft) cable, a pair of abrasion-resistant gloves, a respirator and a window breaker/LED flashlight, assuming it reaches production.
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