Print 34 comment(s) - last by Nekrik.. on May 17 at 4:02 AM

Image courtesy USPTO
DARPA is considering using launching devices to thrust personnel onto the roofs of buildings

Circuses have been amusing crowds by shooting performers out of cannons for a long time. Variations of this can also be found in launchers using elastic cords, trampoline mats and Aircraft seat ejection technology. The problem with these designs is the unpredictable projectile and the lack of control over the launching device.

US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is considering this concept as a way to catapult police, fire and special force officers on top of buildings in a hurry. The device will consist of a ramp with side rails that will seat the person. A cylinder will shoot compressed air from under the seat propelling the seat to the end of the rail. The chair will come to a sudden halt, but the very brave person sitting in the chair will not. The expectation is that the person will fly over the edge of the roof and land safely on top of the building.

The DARPA patent adds that a computer can automatically find the correct angle and the appropriate launch speed. It also claims that with this equipment, the total flight time to reach the top of 5-story building will be less than 2 seconds. For now, I'll stick to the stairs.

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What could go wrong?
By leonowski on 5/16/2006 3:11:13 AM , Rating: 5
Sounds like a great idea.

What could go wrong?

RE: What could go wrong?
By mcphailvdoulton on 5/16/2006 3:55:38 AM , Rating: 2
What could go wrong?

quite a few things actually! the most significant are probably related to the point of impact. unless the target building has a large, flat and totally obstruction-free roof, superman here could land on antennae, airconditioning/misc equipment, structural features (raised surfaces, beams, stairwells, walls, corners etc) and so on ... or if they miscalculated, he could miss the roof totally and land on whatever's on the other side of the building.

Scissor lifts and stairs for me!

RE: What could go wrong?
By abhaxus on 5/16/2006 4:55:09 AM , Rating: 2
i bet you 1000 internet dollars that he was being sarcastic

RE: What could go wrong?
By leonowski on 5/16/2006 5:41:24 AM , Rating: 2

RE: What could go wrong?
By mcphailvdoulton on 5/16/2006 9:28:39 AM , Rating: 2

/me pays $$$ to abhaxus

yeah i figured he was being sarcastic, but the question did make me think a while abotu what could really go wrong ;)

RE: What could go wrong?
By Seer on 5/16/2006 6:38:09 AM , Rating: 2
The computer would calculate it so that the apex of your flight is only a couple feet above the top of the building. It would be like the fall from a regular jump. So, even if you landed on something not flat, it wouldn't matter that much.

RE: What could go wrong?
By Griswold on 5/16/2006 7:39:10 AM , Rating: 2
With 50 or more pounds of equipment (think of special units or whatever), even the impact from a normal jump on a tilted surface can break your ankle or at least hurt alot.

RE: What could go wrong?
By lemonadesoda on 5/16/2006 11:22:54 AM , Rating: 2
A computer is operated by a human. Enough said.

And by the way. To do the calculation you would not only need the accurate weight of you human canonball. Unfortunately there is not enough time to accerlerate then speed limit the canonball. So there is only an acceleration phase. And acceleration will be based on weight and FORCE of the compressor.

Get it wrong by 5% and your man will hit the wall of the 5th floor and drop like a stone instead of making it to the roof.

Get it wrong by 5% and your man will fly over the top of the roof and over the other side.

Get it right by 100% but if you don't know what is on the roof (stair well, skylights, aerials, dishes etc.) then you are sending him 100% into an accident.

So you would need to send a camera up first.

Perhaps being held by a man on a ladder?


RE: What could go wrong?
By oTAL on 5/16/2006 11:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, this is GREAT future tech for highly TRAINED personnel. That means military and rescue operations. Objects on the roof? You can see them on the sattelite pics!!

Main problem for me is the uncontrolled nature of the projectile... a person may travel very well through the air or offer a lot of attrition depending on the form adopted which enphasisis the TRAINED part... The exact same strenght and angle on the propeller could either send you flat against the building or right over the top (as long as the building is tall enough for small errors to translate to big results - I have no idea on height, but I believe this would be safe enough now on buildings smaller than 3 stories...)

Let the technology evolve and you'll have this on theme parks!! weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! *lol*

RE: What could go wrong?
By Nekrik on 5/16/2006 4:27:44 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, sounds like nothing great could wrong go. Wwho cares anyway, I wanna try it.

RE: What could go wrong?
By jt63 on 5/16/2006 7:17:24 AM , Rating: 2
See any Road Runner cartoon for ideas on what could go wrong ;)

RE: What could go wrong?
By johnsonx on 5/16/2006 11:56:16 AM , Rating: 1
what if the computer controlling this thing is running Windows?

That'd give a whole new meaning to 'Blue Screen of DEATH".

RE: What could go wrong?
By Nekrik on 5/17/2006 4:01:47 AM , Rating: 2
or OSX, the spinning cannonball of death.

I could be a fireman...
By Scabies on 5/16/2006 11:30:11 AM , Rating: 2
Lets not forget that if he is leaning improperly, i.e. to the side or forward, he will land on something other than his feet. Like his head? If leaning forward, the force transfer will make the guy do an aerial sommersault, and to the side makes for some kind of misty flip. Why not outfit all of the firemen with utility belts and grappling hooks?

**thinks of Ladder 49, where the roof caves in** I dont think that would be helped by someone jumping/landing on the roof.
**things further** is there a catapult for getting down?
But this would make fireman camp soo much cooler, training with the man-a-pult.

RE: I could be a fireman...
By RTJP66 on 5/16/2006 11:37:40 AM , Rating: 4
Who cares if they do a somersalt, How scared would you be if you were a criminal and group of acrobatic, flying policeman jumped 5 floors to come get you! if they get it right though, could just be hilarious watching the Police force fire man after man at the building your in each of them failing miserably.

RE: I could be a fireman...
By jskirwin on 5/16/2006 12:03:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think the idea is that the criminal would be laughing so hard that he would be incapacitated. Or maybe crushed under the weight of an improperly aimed peace officer.

RE: I could be a fireman...
By Scabies on 5/16/2006 1:10:33 PM , Rating: 2
I dont mean a complete sommersault, I mean the kind you break your neck doing (or failing to do)

Though... flying cops does sound pretty scary

RE: I could be a fireman...
By Nekrik on 5/17/2006 4:02:42 AM , Rating: 2
When Pigs Fly?

By Gooberslot on 5/16/2006 4:48:32 PM , Rating: 2
What happens if there's a sudden gust of wind?

RE: wind
By lemonadesoda on 5/16/2006 5:01:03 PM , Rating: 2
What happens if the idiot doesnt let go of the chair when he's supposed to?

Anyway? What the point of sending up a fireman without a hose? So shoot the hose up at the same time.

What happens if the hose isn't long enough?


RE: wind
By Samus on 5/16/2006 5:59:23 PM , Rating: 2
exactly whats the problem with using what we"ve used for years


RE: wind
By Stele on 5/16/2006 8:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
Money and response time. It costs a lot to run choppers, and they don't get called out at every emergency, so by the time they realise that they need one, they'd have to wait a while for it. On the other hand, they could bring a catapult every time just like another fire engine

Potential Meal for the Sharks
By Supa on 5/16/2006 8:23:22 AM , Rating: 2
The company better put aside some of their investment dollars for legal matters, the sharks are circling, I mean, the lawyers are waiting.


RE: Potential Meal for the Sharks
By lemonadesoda on 5/16/2006 11:27:56 AM , Rating: 2
I like the concept of a pneumatic springboard. Rather than a seat, you just run up and jump onto the springboard. Maybe not 5 flights, but 3 meters would be easily doable. This would be great for military purposes for scaling obstacles, or jumping over ditches.

RE: Potential Meal for the Sharks
By dhei on 5/16/2006 1:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
They are already testing devices that do this. But have you ever saw stilts like painters use to reach high places, its like those but compressed so they can just run like normal boots and with flip of button on persons side can shoot off over walls and what not. Landing is just as easy they compressed back to a shoe when you land on both feet.

Oh good
By proamerica on 5/16/2006 12:23:39 PM , Rating: 2
DARPA's ideas of late were actually starting to make sense. I'm glad to see that they have chosen the inevitable path to lunacy, as is described in their mission statement apparently. Sure this isn't utterly looney, but I bet you their next idea is. If you had guidance cables attached to the officer, such as are used to fire some types of missiles, this might have a flying chance in hell of working. Then you could always apply too much force to the officer, and reign him or even direct him somewhat with the cabling system. Or the cabling system could be set to automatically slow the officers ascent after a predetermined distance. The benefit is that it doesn't put all the onus for accuracy on the firing mechanism, and lets a more definite and predeterminable cabling system sort out the little bit about the distance being travelled.

Maybe I should work for DARPA?

RE: Oh good
By Scabies on 5/16/2006 1:12:19 PM , Rating: 2
no, no, you sound logical and thorough. They wouldnt want the like of you.

RE: Oh good
By Wwhat on 5/16/2006 2:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
DARPA isn't a company as such, it's the army funding students and projects across the US.
Defense Advanced Research Project Agency
As such they funded many silly things, some of which turned out to be useful in the end, take this thing, perhaps your average cop would not go for it but you can obviously launch anything the size of a human, robotic devices for instance, plus if there was a situation where the choice was between a huge disaster and getting in this thing many fireman and cops and such would get in it, they went into the WTC too trying to save people, knowing well how damn dangerous it was.

Disney World
By XtremeM3 on 5/16/2006 4:57:15 AM , Rating: 2
Disney should totally add this to their ride list.

"Human cannonball!!! We'll propel you up 5 stories and you'll land safely on the roof of a building!"

Where do I sign up?

RE: Disney World
By lemonadesoda on 5/16/2006 11:24:56 AM , Rating: 2
Canonball into a swimming pool might be quite fun

screw it
By bohhad on 5/16/2006 1:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
i was going to fit my house with an escalator, but this seems like a MUCH better idea. whee!

Why not?
By fic2 on 5/16/2006 6:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
Why not a portable, telescoping Bat-pole? Hey if it was good enough for Bruce Wayne.

Battlefield 2 Expansion
By Spacecomber on 5/16/2006 7:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
I hope this gets picked up by DICE and included in their next expansion for BF2. You already have a chute; so, you just need a little help getting that big air.

By stephenbrooks on 5/16/2006 11:17:02 PM , Rating: 2
Strikes me the grappling hook isn't such a bad substitute for this.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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