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Robocoaster 319

AnswerIs42 writes "Got the announcement thru work email.. but a German company name Kuka has a very unique ride they are demonstrating. It has all the thrills, chills, loops, twists, puke factor of a rollercoaster.. but it only needs 11x12 meters of space! What they did is take a material handling robot (like you would find in any automotive plant) and put 2 seats on it. They also gave it a clever name: Robocoaster. I have a start of a review here, and will post more once I actually go and ride the sucker next month in Detroit. With everything it can do and more... it could start replacing rollercoasters.. perhaps?"
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    • Sure. Until it flings you across the room....
    • Well it might be, until the control computer bluescreens and the thing slaps you against the floor a few times.
  • by MartinG ( 52587 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @01:57PM (#4924063) Homepage Journal
    "11x12 metres of space"?

    Is this ride only for 2D people. I'm gonna wait until they invent a 3D version.
  • by vasqzr ( 619165 ) <vasqzr@NOSPAm.netscape.net> on Thursday December 19, 2002 @01:58PM (#4924072)

    They are building a 440 foot coaster [virtualmidway.com] at Cedar Point [cedarpoint.com].

    Here's some pictures [virtualmidway.com]

  • by jhines0042 ( 184217 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @01:58PM (#4924081) Journal
    ... I know... Disney is evil.

    But Downtown Disney (Orlando, FL) has a huge arcade with a RollerCoaster simulator in it that I rode.

    It was lots of fun, especially since you got to build your own roller coaster and then ride it...

    But it wasn't perfect to be sure. Real rollercoasters have wind and that is the one main thing that this was missing.

    • How about the lack of acceleration? That seems to be missing as well.
      • Actually this is accomplished by tilting you backwards a bit.

        Try this: Close your eyes and lean back in your chair. This generates a force on your back that could, when combined with other visual and audio inputs, be confused by your brain into being acceleration. That part of it I didn't have complaints about. Altough the acceleration does need to be smooth... it won't simulate the aircraft carrier type spring loaded launches that lots of rollercoasters do today.
    • My 6yo daughter & I rode a Rollercoaster simulator at Putt-Putt, and it was pretty cool. Well, the first time they forgot to turn the interior screen on. Imagine riding a rollercoaster in near complete darkeness! It even freaked me out a bit, but she didn't have any problems accepting the free replacement ride :)

      And it did have wind, courtesy of fans, although not as strong as on a real rollercoaster.

      • Imagine riding a rollercoaster in near complete darkeness!

        Sounds like Space Mountain, available at your nearest Disney park. That second left turn really messed up my neck the last time I rode it...

  • Reminds me of the coaster simulator at DisneyQuest (Disney World). The simulator, of course, is really just a simulator -- there's no actual forward movement. Still, worth a look if you're ever down that way.
  • by ideonode ( 163753 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @01:59PM (#4924093)
    The point of a rollercoaster is to provide visual cues to pump the adrenalin - massively steep inclines to begin, followed by a rush as the coaster drops 100ft. The wind in the hair.

    This looks more like a barf-o-ride. No sense of real vertigo.

    • This looks more like a barf-o-ride. No sense of real vertigo.
      My thoughts exactly. Who wants to "ride" a paint shaker?
    • by SWPadnos ( 191329 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:35PM (#4924383)
      The current form of this ride may not be much, but combine it with audio/video (VR-style), and it can be VERY convincing.

      My wife and I went to Universal Studios Florida, and rode a couple of rides that have little motion (relative to a rollercoaster)

      The first was the "Back to the Future" ride. The ride consists of a fake DeLorean on an articulated mount. The car never moved more than 3 feet, but the IMAX-like screen in front of us and the slight motion cues from the small movements of the car were very convincing.

      The other ride was "Spider-Man". The basic construction was just a (mostly) flat track with cars on it. The cars would shake and rattle a bit, they could swing around very quickly, and there were other effects (like a flamethrower and water spray) to go along with the action. The main attraction was a series of 3D projected movies. This ride was AWESOME. My wife never managed to keep her eyes open during one particular sequence - she got too queasy (even though we rode the thing 3 times and she knew what was coming :).

      Properly done (with surround video and audio), this can be an amazing ride.
  • What about... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cethiesus ( 164785 ) <cethiesus&yahoo,com> on Thursday December 19, 2002 @01:59PM (#4924094) Homepage Journal
    G-forces? How could an automotive robot simulate the intense gravitational forces that are half the fun of rollercoasters? Especially in 11x12m of space?
    • Seeing as 11mx12m is a two-dimensional object, I'd say it simulates blackhole-level gravity just by getting into the machine...
    • Re:What about... (Score:3, Interesting)

      It'll generate plenty of G-forces. Just not in the same direction for very long. These robots are freaking strong. Their acceleration is *amazing*. And their strength. In underbody respot, they carry huge weld guns that are nothing more than hundreds of pounds of copper with tens of thousands of amps of current going through them. Sometimes the weld transformer (up to another quarter-ton) is attached to the rotating base (hip-mount). These robots move across the car stopping and starting 5 to 20 times within 1mm of the set position. Cycle time from car to car (you must include getting the car out, next car in, positioning, clamping up, welding, unclamping, lifting, and ready to get the next car in) is under 60s. Actual robot time is more like 10-20s. PLENTY of acceleration. And if you program the interference zones wrong, they'll pick up the whole car and the thousand pound "pallet" (sled) that carries it. No Farkin' way I'd get on the same side of a light screen as one of these unless *I* was holding the deadman switch. Oops, sorry "enabling pendant". It's not PC to say "dead" about a machine that could gut you like a trout and not even slow down.
    • Positive Gs are easy utilizing centrifugal forces. Round and round to increase Gs, change the wrist angle of the robot arm to change the direction of the force relative to the person. Negative Gs are easy, just turn them 'head out'.

      You won't get much in the way of sustained, reduced Gs, but you can short ones, 1 second, by flinging people downward with the arm.

      They just need to make sure to put a vomit shield around the device to keep from flinging it into the spectators. I'll bet you could add an imax like projection sphere around it for a more integrated experience. Just make sure you can hose down the screens.
  • Not as thrilling (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tylerdave ( 58777 )
    Isn't part of the thrill the movement in relation to the ground?

    It is for me at least.
  • by spazoid12 ( 525450 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:00PM (#4924098)
    When you think of a giant robot arm grabbing you and flinging you around...well, they might as well just have the robot connect straight to your butt with a special adapter.
    • by PD ( 9577 )
      If they did that it'd be mighty hard to re-create the "shit your pants" experience that some coasters have.
    • have the robot connect straight to your butt with a special adapter.

      Well, that may come too close to the seat of the "IT", which is illegal to buy, sell or own, thanks to the government bail-out of the airlines.
  • I seriously doubt these types of rides will ever threaten an amusement park like Ceder Point.

    If I had the choice between the Millenium Force and a psuedo-coaster, I'd take the real-deal any time!
  • Beware... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yoda2 ( 522522 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:03PM (#4924107)
    It looks like a big robotic arm that basically shakes the crap out of you.

    This could be the beginning of machines enslaving humans. Instead of killing us, they just grab us two at a time and shake us until we're really confused.

  • G-forces? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dschuetz ( 10924 ) <`gro.tensad' `ta' `divad'> on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:03PM (#4924108)
    How is this any different from the "simulator" rides that already exist at theme parks and in Dave & Buster's locations? Basically, those just move you up and down, and tilt and shake you until you wish you had never gotten on the ride.

    The problem I have with these sorts of rides is that they don't even come close to a roller coaster experience, for me. No wind (okay, they could solve that with clever ducted fans), but most importantly, no real G-forces. When you go down a steep hill, you feel lighter. When you go around a tight turn, you're glued to your seat. When you go upside down, you're glued to your seat.

    Somehow, I suspect that if RoboCoaster turned the car upside down, you'd fall out. Unless they've created a gravity generator.
    • Re:G-forces? (Score:2, Informative)

      by AnswerIs42 ( 622520 )
      A robot such as this can create more G's than you can withstand. If you have ever been in an assembly plants that uses robots such as this, you would understand more as to how this ride would work.

      They take pieces of vehicles that can was 200 or more pounds and move them about like it was a piece of paper.

      Considering the moves that a robot could do as compared to a traditional coaster.. you would get more movement, faster with a robot than with a coaster.

      Again, I'll know more about how it works and what it does when they come in for the demo next month.

      • Sure, it could break my back. But it can't sustain me at 5+ G's for 4 seconds like Millenium Force can. Last time I rode it I got tunnel vision from the G forces; not at first but after several seconds at the pullout of the first hill. You need to sustain high Gs, and you need space for that.

        I would be very sad indeed if this were the future. One of the cool things about amusement parks is the sense of destination; when you walk into a big park like Cedar Point, you get to leave the world behind; you're in a place that was designed for escapism, and the huge, towering multimillion dollar coasters hammer that home in a way a robot in a small block building never could.

        If you could buy one of these for a couple of million and throw it in the back of any old arcade, all that would be lost.

        I don't think people will buy this as a *replacement* for coasters. Sure, it could be fun in and of itself, but it's not a coaster.
    • by jcoleman ( 139158 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:46PM (#4924493)
      Somehow, I suspect that if RoboCoaster turned the car upside down, you'd fall out. Unless they've created a gravity generator.

      Or a seatbelt.

    • but most importantly, no real G-forces

      Roller coasters have "G" forces only in one direction... down. Other forces felt on the ride, the ones that press you into your seat in loops and curves are centrifugal forces created by the curvature of the track... which is easily replicated by the motion of the robot swinging the seat in a circle. Variations on the angle of the chair will reproduce centrifugal force in any direction you want.

      These forces are measured in "G's" relative to the gravity of the earth, but they are not gravitational forces.

      • You're forgetting about negative G's, or "air time". These occur when you crest the top of a hill at speed. The negative G's pop you out of your seat for a split second, and basically makes you feel weightless. It's a cool sensation, and difficult to reproduce via a simulator.
    • You mean like one of those rides that spins you around really fast in an enclosed space so that you're pressed against the wall with several G so that it feels like you're lying on your back rather than standing? If they adjust your spin and angle to get the desired forces, you won't be able to tell by forces that your position and velocity are totally different; with fans you can't tell that you're not moving right relative to the air, and video is relatively easy.

      What would actually be really cool is if they had a ball on an elastic hanging between the seats so you could see what forces the people were under.
    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

      When you go around a tight turn, you're glued to your seat. When you go upside down, you're glued to your seat.

      When the ride's really scary, and you've been eating glue, you're glued to your seat....

  • by k3v0 ( 592611 )
    you can't simulate a huge drop. i doubt i would feel the same anticipation that builds up as you near the top of a coaster. i think these will catch on in malls and arcades but i dont think the rollercoaster industry has anything to worry about. i wish there was a huge centerfuge though, it would be fun to feel like an astronaut
  • So...sit on the end of a robot arm while it shimmies like Shakira.

    Sounds like these robots need something useful to do, like weld truck parts.

    The kids will probably like it though. Hope the code is well-tested, so the arm doesn't do a maximum acceleration to -4.323 Z.
  • I am working at a machine automation company, and we work with similar robots. Now, it's time to convince the boss to let me 'borrow' some of these expensive pieces of machinery and 'play'. Knowing how easy (relatively) it is to program these robots I think I could have some fun quite easily.. hmmm.. hmmm..

  • I've tried alot of these sims out, granted not this one, and from my experience I can say that while alot of them are a great deal of fun, they pale in comparison to the real deal. There's something special about real roller coasters, a certain Je ne sais qua.. maybe it's just the fact that you know it's real, or maybe it's just being in the open air, which would explain why the the coasters where you hang instead of sit are the most popular. If they ever make a sim with the true experience of a rollercoaster, it would kick ass and I'd ride them all the time, but I just don't see that happening anyt ime soon.
  • ...once I actually go and ride the sucker next month in Detroit.

    I assume he's referring to this showing up at the North American International Auto Show [naias.com], but I could be wrong. Anyone have more info (I checked the links) because I'd love to try this thing out.
  • I could definately see this showing up in malls in the US. I don't think it will replace roller coasters in amusement parks though.
  • When I saw the "Robocoaster" headline, I immediately thought of an AI controlled drink coaster on little wheels that would roll along the table and bring your drink to you.

    I guess the "fake roller coaster" thing is kinda cool too though...
  • by writertype ( 541679 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:11PM (#4924161)
    America : Japan
    CRT : LCD
    SUV : Compact hybrid
    Rollercoaster: Robocoaster

    It's all about lack of space, apparently. Although you would think that the Japanese would choose to invest in giant mecha to CRUSH THE GAIJIN COASTERS TO DUST!!!!

    (Then again, that might not be polite.)
  • by _ph1ux_ ( 216706 )
    This ride should be called "Caught by the Cave Troll" or something.

    When you watch the videos - it just looks like the "riders" were picked up by some giant and get thrashed around.

    Other problems:

    - Microsoft Windows operating system
    - Internet connectivity

    all ms jokes aside, here is a machine that has the capability to bash you into the floor with impunity and its got two major security risks: being attached to the internet! and running MS OS.

    I can just see it now BANG BANG BANG. bashing the riders into the floor.

    It would feel a lot more safe if the thing was placed high enough that the arm would *not* be able to touch the floor ever no matter how it was manipulated.

    I would like a few of these to see if you could make an actual robot with six of these as legs and arms.

    Those things look really cool.
  • by Jon Abbott ( 723 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:12PM (#4924175) Homepage
    ...part of the experience is the heights, the scenery you fly by, and so on. I suppose the riders of this could wear VR helmets, but that would be kinda cheap in comparison. Like playing a motorcycle arcade game versus doing the real thing.
  • Rollercoaster?

    Besides flinging people around in the air, I just can't see the connection here. How would this ever replace a real coaster?

    Think about it.

    This thing is an arm with a central axis. To simulate forward motion it would have to do this in a circle. At speed it would feel like being in a centrifuge.

    The videos show it whipping people in the air. It is neat, but it is not roller coaster like. At all.

    • This thing is an arm with a central axis. To simulate forward motion it would have to do this in a circle. At speed it would feel like being in a centrifuge.

      Two things allow you to realize you are in motion- external references and acceleration.

      The first could be taken care of through VR goggles or something; once that is done, acceleration can be simulated by the motion of the arm. Besides how many roller coasters have long straightaways with no vertical or horziontal motion?

  • So they just need to add a smart wind system and some industrial strength fans!
  • It doesn't say anything about a roller coaster ;)

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  • Here's an interesting idea if the thing accepts outside commands..
    You could develop and fine tune your ride from the coasters web site and show up at the actual ride, input your data and ride away. I imagine the device could be wired directly to the internet and you could logon when in line and pull your config or you could print out a barcode checksum at home of your creation and scan it just before getting on the ride. People could swap barcodes and try each others out and you could vote on a 10 best, it could integrated into Roller Coaster Tycoon or Sim coaster blah blah blah. Hurry, call the patent office...

  • Is ths 1989? (Score:3, Informative)

    by djrogers ( 153854 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:18PM (#4924225)
    Coaster sims have been around for years - they're in freaking shopping malls for crying out loud! I know /. geeks don't get out much, but come on...
  • To give you the visual aspect of the ride. What fun is it to get thrown all over the place unless it looks like you're high above the park and about to plummet to your doom? Seems like without this visual experience, it would just be nausea inducing.

    With the proper VR setup, you could do lots more than just simulate a coaster. How about controlling a space ship, or flying on a magic carpet to fight against a dragon?

    I don't see these things replacing coasters anytime soon.
  • At the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas (it's the huge black pyramid with that 20-kazillion candle-power light on top) they have a "virtual roller coaster" in the arcade. It looks like your typical enclosed VR ride, but it rotates on all 3 axes. I didn't think it was particularly revolutionary, just a fun ride. And it takes a much smaller space than 11x12 meters.
  • Three or four years ago I rode a virtual rollercoaster in a local mall. You pay too much, then get in a coaster seat in an enclosed room on some controlled arms, and watch the track on a video display while the "car" moves in response to the virtual track. You could even program your own track (by selecting a sequence from a dozen or so pre-created sections).

    It was interesting, but while they do a nice job of a simulation, they can't get the g forces right for more than an instant. Without gravity generators (which most of use wearing our protective tinfoil hats know the gub'mint is keeping from us) this will never really replace a real 'coaster.

    • This isn't your Grandad's 'virtual rollercoaster'. Firstly, it doesn't have any Computer Graphics - it's basically a huge robot arm with a couple of seats attatched. It looks like it could move you in any direction it felt like, and fast too. This isn't just a small movie screen on a motion base...
      • And read what I wrote! The gizmo I tried was quite capable of tossing the riders around (If I remember correctly it could even invert them, as well as moving them very fast), but in that limited space you just can't sustain the g forces like my grandpa's 'coaster can. I don't see that this device is any different, except that it lacks the passable eye candy graphics.
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:26PM (#4924308) Homepage
    In the past I have given thought to a variant of this - and it could work, given the size of many recent themepark and "portable" fairground rides:

    Instead of a "40 foot" arm, build one with a VERY LARGE arm, with the same degrees-of-freedom (or more). I am thinking something like a 150-200 foot long arm (like a huge, multi-jointed, articulated crane arm).

    Such a monster of a machine could be easily built with today's technology (look at coal strip mining machines, for example), would take up less space than a conventional coaster, but most important of all, it could easily simulate forward motion (especially if it was a hybrid cartesian/polar/revolute axis type arm, where the base could move laterally in two perpendicular directions, but the arm could still move in a polar or revolute fashion - anybody who works with robot arms knows what I mean here). The size of the machine would make the riders feel they were riding on a virtual track.

    While what I was thinking would use way more space than this machine, it would be a great machine for a themepark...

    • The joy of combining axial motion from the perspective of the subject(victim) is that gravity is replaced by inertia - as with standard loops and turns. Creative calculations for a machine capable of moving quickly would turn the subjective "down" into a radial path and counter for the lateral centrifugal force by angling the rider slightly. Combine this with minimal descending motion and you can create the effect of dropping several hundred feet when you only have a few hundred to work with. Put a screen in front of that (or better, around) and you've got an awesome virtual coaster designable on the fly.
  • Calling it a coaster is a bit much, as many, many posts here already indicate.

    What they *should* have done is stuck a little fiberglass horsey to the end of the arm. Then when "Little Timmy" just won't quit whining at the Supermarket because he just *has* to ride the pretty little pony -- let him.

    I bet he won't do *that* again.

  • For those of you looking for the real thing, check out Cedar Point [cedarpoint.com] in Sandusky, OH. They have 15 roller coasters and 68 other rides. Cedar Point is home to the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world, the Millenium Force [cedarpoint.com] (310ft/94m max height and 93MPH/150KPH max speed). They are open from mid-May through Labor Day (early September). It's a little expensive at $42 (+$8 for parking) though.
    • OK, I just looked up some more stats, and apparently other coasters are indeed taller and faster... However, Millenium Force has a duration of 2m45s compared to around 30s for the competing coasters.
  • by Rew190 ( 138940 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:36PM (#4924401)
    Simulations like these lack some of the major elements that make coasters so fun. I'm a big enthusiast of coasters, and I've ridden a lot of the simulations. They don't compare, here's why generally.

    There's no wind in your hair, which detracts greatly from your sense of speed.

    You know that you're in a simulation. One of the things that makes Millenium Force such an awesome ride is that it scares the shit out of you on the way up- you ARE 300 ft up. A lot of the suspense that goes with riding a ride is waiting in the line and getting strapped in. What's going to be more effective, walking into a room or strapping yourself into a metal behemoth like http://www.cedarpoint.com/public/inside_park/webca m/camera1.cfm that?

    Though simulators are good at playing games with your inner ear etc, the sensation of being upside-down or highly banked has never felt quite right to me- again, this probably has a lot to do with the fact that throughout the whole ride I know it's not really happening.

    This thing works mostly off of visual cues. That's not going to make the "ride" a lot of fun, it's going to make many of it's passengers sick. Sure, coasters can do that too, but since what your eyes think is happening is more or less actually happening (I say that because good Coaster designers will mess with you a bit), I (personally) find getting sick generally happens much less compared to sims.

    Finally, riding coasters is a bit of a psychological ordeal. You are conquering your fears/challenging yourself/trying to push yourself in some way. Sims don't really offer this aspect.
    Worry not, roller coasters of the world- you are in no danger.
  • Doomed to Failure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tyler Eaves ( 344284 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:43PM (#4924468)
    They'll never sell unit #1.


    They want $1.5mil for one of these.

    A ride that can do 24 riders per hour. In a typical situation that would work out to about 250 rides per day.

    For $1.5 million.

    For comparison, a Huss Top Spin (http://www.hussrides.com/52ClassicTopSpin.htm), which costs roughly the same, takes 40 passengers per ride, and also does flips and what not. Top Spins can, in ideal circumstances, push through upwards of 800 people per hour, withn a figure of 400-500 pph being much more realistic. That means for the same money, they can have a ride that will run through 250 people in 30 minutes, instead of 10 hours. If you were in the position of buying a ride, which would YOU buy with your money?

    Let's look at it from the economic angle. Both simulators and Top Spins command an average per-ride of ~$5/passenger. This puts the Robocoaster at $120 per hour. The Top Spin at $2000-$4000. Still having trouble making up your mind?

    Remember that rides need operators (Firgure 2 for the Robocoaster, 4 for the Top Spin). Figure employee costs of $10/hr per employee. The Robocoaster is down to $100/hr now. The Top Spin to $1960-$3960. Now figure insurance and power, and maintaince. Those would knock off another $40 or so from the Robocoaster, bringing it down to $50-$60/hour profit., and the Top Spin to roughly $1500-$3000.

    Let's figure our hypotetical park is open 12 hours a day, 180 days a year.

    That is to say, 2160 hours per year.

    Robocoaster: $1.5million. $60/per hour.

    Time to profit: 25,000 hours, or almost 12 years.

    Top Spin: $2 million. $1500 per hour (We'll take the low end)

    Time to profit: 111 days.

    Made up your mind yet?
    • $10/hr per employee

      Wow!!! what magical socialist land do you live in?
      a "carney" getting $10hr.. wow.. i wanna move there, imagine how much I would make

      carney: "Do you want a puke bag with that?"
    • Not 1.5M (Score:5, Informative)

      by bhsx ( 458600 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @05:35PM (#4925801)
      According to this
      I t costs 160,000UKP not $1.5M. Multiply your figures for the Robocoaster accordingly.
      According to this
      http://www.kuka-roboter.de/robocoaster/nofla sh/eng lish/flexibilitaet.html
      they can accomidate 2000 rides per hour.
      Of course then you're talking configurations of around 18 to 20 machines, I'd guess, so then you're talking closer to your $2M figure for the TopSpin.
      Not ridiculing your opinions, just trying to correct a major error in your calculations.
  • By this definition of 'rollercoaster', I'm an airplane, monkey bars, horse, trampoline, race car, dog, pogo stick, elevator, escalator, and about half-a-dozen more things like that.

    At least my four-year old thinks so. Wonder if I should start charging admission?

  • ...with the pedestrian task of waving humans around at the end of its arm, it will simply extend the motion a little, and bash you repeatedly on the floor.
  • by Eagle7 ( 111475 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:57PM (#4924600) Homepage
    Amongst the features listed are "Microsoft Windows operating system" and "Internet connectivity". A giant industrial robot connected to two helpless humans running Windows connected to the 'net... this cannot be a good thing.
  • by Victor Tramp ( 5336 ) <info@ros[ ]4.net ['s15' in gap]> on Thursday December 19, 2002 @03:17PM (#4924788) Homepage
    just add goggles, joystick, and network a couple in a room, charge $5 bucks a minute, and MANY kinds of games could be written for this thing!!! Revolution in arcade revenues!!!!

    Theme park!? hahahahaha, how shortsighted!!!

  • call me paranoid but this post coming so fast on the heels of the post about the terminator 3 trailer makes me nervous. cyberdyne/ skynet is already building it's army.
  • The title says it all!

    How can you be a "risk taker" if there is no risk?

    Oh, thats right, I might fall out of the metal box and fall 10 ft ... about as risky as climbing the monkey bars on a play ground ...

    Ohhhhh ... feel the rush!!!!

    Simulators ... bah!

    Also think of it this way ... which do you prefer ... real sex or virtual sex?

    Just my $0.02

  • There's a similar contraption at various malls in (at least) Michigan; the Briarwood Mall [shopbriarwood.com] in Ann Arbor (and at least one other mall owned by Taubman) has something called the XScream Motion virtual roller coaster. Two riders, robotic arm, full 6-axis motion... but this is a closed cabin with projections screens where they show a virtual coaster track that you get to design! $5 a ride, and you can get a video of your ride from inside tha cabin for an additional $X.

    I know they guys that make this thing have a web site (the URL is on their display at the mall), but Google was no help(!) in finding it.
  • by vlorre ( 597131 ) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @03:59PM (#4925102)
    From a pure geek perspective, the Robocoaster is mesmerizing. Once I saw it (at IAAPA http://www.iaapa.org ) I just stood there and watched it for about 10 minutes with a huge grin on my face. The attraction is powerful - in multiple ways. Riders who opted for the highest setting would literally have their arms and legs flung about unless they held on tightly. While an avid coaster enthusiast, I have complete respect for this new type of attraction. The robocoaster is capable of generating 1.8Gs. I, of course, chose to ride it at the maximum setting. The ride was smooth, abrupt, unique and .. fun. While being flung from one position to the next, the speed was fast enough to occasionally blur my vision. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, and would ride multiple times. This is merely one component that can be integrated with additional media, lighting, sound (themeing, etc). My company is working on a VR center that will feature a Robocoaster with custom themeing/programming, etc. It's not meant to replace a coaster - rather it's something new and unique that can be used as an 'attractor' in certain locations. ps. Even without the themeing, the ride rocked. It'll make most simulators seem lame in comparison. ps#2. Someone posted inacurate pricing. Per unit cost is approximately $300k vlorre
  • by Hubert_Shrump ( 256081 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tenarboc.> on Thursday December 19, 2002 @04:15PM (#4925126) Journal
    They use a code -- ask for The PaintShaker!

    They'll know what you want.

  • ...and the primary thing we worried about was safety. These things are strong and can kill someone if they get in the way. When I left they were looking into allowing people to 'teach' paths by allowing users to 'push' on the robot.

    It was damn tough - it needed to have active feedback, those motors can't be moved by hand, and you need external sensors 'cause the feedback from the current in the motors would only notice if you smacked into metal. And, of course, the programming needed to be perfect. One guy said, "we don't want someone getting their arm broken because somebody forgot to convert to unsigned."

    It can probably be made safe, but I'd never ride in one. My trained reflexes won't let me get near a robot without a deadman switch in my hand.

Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad. -- Rob Pike