Call this one life imitating art. Someone in the Pentagon must have been a fan of those Batman films. You remember the ones where he scales up the side of a building on a rope. Well, the Army researched it and put their best people on it. But it wasn’t Lucius Fox, it was Nate Ball.

Nate Ball was an undergraduate student about 15 years ago at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Army approached MIT with an idea.  Can somebody build a powered lift device that can pull somebody up a rope, just like Batman does?

“We looked at each other and said, ‘That sounds awesome. We’d love to build that,’ ” Ball recalls.

The Army wanted the device for rescue operations, like lifting wounded soldiers or hauling someone out of the water. Ball’s idea was to build a battery-powered winch that someone could wear around their waist.

In 2005, he formed a company called Atlas Devices to work on the project, and eventually it paid off. “Twelve years later, with a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the way, Atlas Devices gets to build those powered ascenders,” Ball says.

Ball and his company also worked a special ladder for the Army that can double as a stretcher. It is just a case of putting mind over matter and having the vision to be able to work thru an issue to see it thru. And having help in the form of a comic book come to life as an inspiration is priceless.

To read the entire article from National Public Radio click here:

Photo courtesy Nate Ball