Title:
SYSTEM AND DEVICE FOR SURVEILLANCE, SEARCH, AND RESCUE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for moving a load across a distance having a frame, a first wheel, a second wheel, and a bias restriction portion wherein the weight of a load associated with the frame portion biases the first and second wheels against a guide disposed between the first and second wheels such that said first and second wheels engage the guide and secure the device thereto, and further wherein the bias restriction portion restricts the biasing of the first and second wheels to within predetermined limits.



Inventors:
Neale, Jimmy Ross (Anderson, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/953018
Publication Date:
05/22/2008
Filing Date:
12/08/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B61B3/00; A62B1/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MCCARRY JR, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Spencer Fane LLP (Kansas City, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A device for moving a load across a distance, the device comprising: a frame portion; a first wheel portion associated with said frame portion at a first position; a second wheel portion associated with said frame portion at a second position; and a bias restriction portion associated with said frame at a third position; wherein the weight of a load associated with said frame portion biases said first and second wheels against a guide, at least a portion of said guide disposed between said first and second wheels, such that said first and second wheels engage said guide and secure said device thereto, and further wherein said bias restriction portion restricts the biasing of said first and second wheels to within predetermined limits.

2. The device according to claim 1 wherein said bias restricting portion is a bias restriction wheel.

3. The device according to claim 1 wherein said guide comprises a first plurality of teeth disposed along a surface thereof, and further wherein at least one of said first and second wheels comprises a second plurality of teeth disposed along a surface thereof, said first plurality of teeth and said second plurality of teeth being adapted to engage one another.

4. The device according to claim 1 wherein said guide comprises a cutout portion for receiving at least one of said first and second wheels therein.

5. The device according to claim 1 further comprising a safety portion associated with said frame at a fourth position, said safety portion adapted to restrict movement of the present device counter to the direction of bias of said first and second wheels, said movement being restricted to within predetermined limits.

6. The device according to claim 5 wherein said safety portion is a safety wheel.

7. A device for moving a load across a distance, the device comprising: a climbing portion, said climbing portion adapted to engage at least one guide and transport said device therealong; a frame portion fixedly attached to said climbing portion; and a plurality of wheels rotatably attached to said frame portion, said wheels allowing said device to move along a substantially smooth surface for transport of said device from a first location to a second location.

8. The device according to claim 7 wherein said climbing portion comprises: a climbing frame portion; a first climbing wheel portion associated with said climbing frame portion at a first position; and a second climbing wheel portion associated with said climbing frame at a second position, wherein the weight of a load associated with said climbing frame portion biases said first and second climbing wheels against said at least one guide, at least a portion of said at least one guide disposed between said first and second climbing wheels such that said first and second climbing wheels engage said at least one guide and secure said device thereto.

9. The device according to claim 8 further comprising a bias restriction portion associated with said climbing frame at a third position.

10. The device according to claim 9 further comprising a safety portion associated with said climbing frame at a fourth position, said safety portion adapted to restrict movement of the present device counter to the direction of bias of said first and second climbing wheels, said movement being restricted to within predetermined limits.

11. The device according to claim 8 further comprising a safety portion associated with said climbing frame at a third position, said safety portion adapted to restrict movement of the present device counter to the direction of bias of said first and second climbing wheels, said movement being restricted to within predetermined limits.

12. The device according to claim 8 further comprising a motor operably engaged with said device in order to move said device from a first location to a second location.

13. The device according to claim 8 wherein said motor is selected from the group consisting of an electric motor, an internal-combustion motor, a solar-powered motor, a fuel-cell powered motor, and combinations thereof.

14. The device according to claim 8 further comprising a cockpit portion adapted to contain a driver of said device.

15. The device according to claim 8 further comprising a staging portion fixedly attached to said frame, said staging portion adapted to contain at least one person and to allow ready entry into and exit from said device.

16. The device according to claim 15 further comprising at least one doorway associated therewith, said doorway sized, shaped, and adapted to align with an opening into a structure having said at least one guide associated therewith such that at least one person within said device may readily exit said device and enter said structure, and that said at least one person within said structure may readily enter said device.

17. The device according to claim 16 wherein said at least one doorway is moveable along at least one directional axis such that said at least one doorway may be selectably positioned such that said at least one doorway is aligned with an opening into a structure having said at least one guide associated therewith.

18. The device according to claim 14 wherein said cockpit and said climbing portion are provided in a powered portion of said device, said device further comprising; a motor operably engaged with said powered portion in order to move said powered portion from a first location to a second location; and an insertion compartment, said insertion compartment having a plurality of wheels rotatably attached thereto and defining an interior space therein, wherein said insertion compartment is removably attached to said powered portion such that said insertion compartment can be pulled by said powered portion for transport of said insertion compartment from one location to another.

19. The device according to claim 18 wherein said insertion compartment is adapted to receive said powered portion removably attached to an outer surface thereof, such that said climbing portion associated with said powered portion can be utilized to transport said insertion compartment along a length of said at least one guide.

20. The device according to claim 8 wherein said device is capable of independent locomotion for transporting said device from a first location to a second location, one of said first and second locations being a structure having said at least one guide associated therewith, said device further comprising a staging portion adapted for insertion of at least one person into said structure and extraction of at least one person therefrom.

21. The device according to claim 1 wherein said device is fixedly attached to a structure with respect to which said device will be used.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/889,091, filed on Jul. 12, 2004, which Application in turn claimed benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/486,048, filed on Jul. 10, 2003.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISC

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A convenient, efficient means of transporting a load over a distance where no existing means of transport is available has many applications. Perhaps most notably, a device or system capable of such transport can be used to extract people from inaccessible locations, such as from a high-rise building. The 9/11 disaster affirmed the need for a device or system capable of extracting people from a building when those people are trapped by structural failure, fire, or other circumstances. The events of 9/11 also confirmed the need for a device or system for inserting rescue personnel into such a building. Though the 9/11 disaster is the most high-profile instance where a device or system in accordance with the present invention might have saved lives, such situations arise regularly. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, 86 lives were lost some years ago when the Dupont Plaza Hotel caught fire. In 1980, 85 people died when the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. burned. In the latter instance, lives were lost primarily due to poisonous gas and smoke rising through elevator shafts. Helicopters were used in both cases to lift people from rooftops, and a small number were saved using this method, but the availability of helicopters on alert and capable of lifting large numbers of people is small and, in some locales, may be non-existent. Additionally, the use of helicopters in the burning building environment presents an additional danger due to heat, smoke, and turbulence caused by fire and wind currents that normally exist around tall buildings.

In the case of the 9/11 disaster, elevators were unusable, leaving emergency stairwells or windows as the only means of escape from the building. Use of windows is unacceptable unless a fire truck ladder can reach the window in question, often not the case in extremely tall buildings. Stairwells are slow and firemen have to use the same stairs to reach the upper floors, leading to crowding in the stairwells such that firemen are hindering the movement of people down the stairwells and to the outside, and people fleeing the building hinder the movement of firemen up the stairway to fight the fire. Further, stairwells may not be an option for disabled persons, and moving injured people down a stairwell is difficult.

The need for a device or system of extracting people from buildings is not limited to a fire situation. Partial building collapse as a result of an earthquake or faulty construction can lead to a similar need. Partial collapse of a building causes survivors to be trapped on the upper floors where it is difficult and dangerous for them to attempt to extract themselves or for rescue personnel to reach them.

In addition to rescue scenarios, a need exists for an efficient, independent means of moving a load vertically or horizontally across a distance. For example, it is generally necessary to move loads across a distance during the construction of high-rise buildings, bridges, and the like.

In any of the scenarios above, it is desirable that the device or system of transport be truly independent in that it have its own power supply, means of locomotion, and the like. Such a device is also needed for transport of materials in space, or as a “space elevator.” Also needed is a means of moving a load along mine shafts or extracting persons therefrom. In addition to extraction, there is also a need for a system or device for placing persons at a location or allowing surveillance therefrom. These and other needs are met by the present invention, as will be detailed more fully below.

In addition, some proposed solutions to the problems associated with emergency situations such as in high rise buildings require bulky or undesirable equipment to be retained at the building site for use by fire, rescue, or other personnel during an emergency. Further, such equipment is required at every site for which a potential solution to the problem of emergencies is desired. There is, therefore, a need for a mobile device that can be retained by fire, rescue, or other emergency personnel and transported and used at any site where such a device becomes necessary. The present invention meets these needs as further described below.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a device for moving a load across a distance. The device preferably includes a frame portion, a first wheel portion associated with the frame portion at a first position, a second wheel portion associated with the frame portion at a second position, and a bias restriction portion associated with the frame at a third position. The weight of a load associated with the frame portion biases the first and second wheels against a guide, the guide being disposed between the first and second wheels such that the first and second wheels engage the guide and secure the present device thereto. The bias restriction portion restricts the biasing of the first and second wheels to within predetermined limits.

In another aspect of the present invention the bias restricting portion is a bias restriction wheel.

In another aspect of the present invention the guide includes a first plurality of teeth disposed along a surface thereof, and furthermore at least one of the first and second wheels includes a second plurality of teeth disposed along a surface thereof, that first plurality of teeth and the second plurality of teeth being adapted to engage one another.

In still another aspect of the present invention, the guide includes a cutout portion for receiving at least one of the first and second wheels therein.

In another aspect of the present invention, the device includes a motor operably engaged with said device in order to move said device from a first location to a second location.

In another aspect of the present invention, the device includes a powered portion having a climbing portion associated therewith, and an insertion compartment adapted to be pulled by the powered portion.

In still another aspect of the present invention, the insertion compartment is adapted to receive the powered portion on an outer surface thereof such that the climbing mechanism associated with the powered portion can be used to move the insertion compartment along a guide.

In another aspect of the present invention, the device includes a staging portion fixedly attached to said frame, said staging portion adapted to contain at least one person and to allow ready entry into and exit from said device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of an embodiment of the present invention depicting the general principle underlying the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of another alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an elevational view of an embodiment of the present invention adapted for use with an I-beam.

FIG. 5 is a top cross-sectional view of an embodiment of the present invention adapted for use with an I-beam.

FIG. 6 is an elevational view of an embodiment of the present invention adapted for use with a C-channel.

FIG. 7 is a top cross-sectional view of an embodiment of the present invention for use with a C-channel.

FIG. 8 is an elevational view of an embodiment of the present invention adapted for use with an I-beam and including a housing depicted associated therewith.

FIG. 9 is a schematic view of a conceptual mobile framework constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a schematic view of a conceptual mobile framework of the present invention associated with a guide.

FIG. 11 is a schematic view of a conceptual mobile framework of the present invention associated with a guide and support platform.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a device of the present invention associated with a support platform and positioned along a guide associated with a high-rise building.

FIG. 13 is a side perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention including a powered portion and associated insertion compartment.

FIG. 14 is a front perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention including a powered portion and associated insertion compartment, the powered portion being removably engaged with an upper surface of the insertion compartment.

FIG. 15 is a side cross-sectional view of one embodiment of a mobile device of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a front perspective view of the embodiment of a mobile device of the present invention shown in FIG. 15.

FIG. 17 is a side elevational view of another embodiment of a mobile device of the present invention shown associated with a guide.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/889,091, filed on Jul. 12, 2004, which Application in turn claimed benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/486,048, filed on Jul. 10, 2003, and both documents are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety. In each of the embodiments of the invention described in those references, and in the embodiments of the present invention described herein, the underlying principle of the invention is the same. The present invention harnesses the force of gravity, normally a hinderance to the task of moving a load vertically or in any direction away from the earth's center of mass, and renders this force an asset. It is the force of gravity that serves to bias the wheels of the present device against a guide in such a way that the wheels are able to grip the guide and move the device therealong. In some embodiments of the present invention, the force of gravity is used to bias the wheels of the present device for horizontal movement rather than movement away from the earth's center of mass.

Turning now to the drawings, wherein like numerals indicate like parts, FIG. 1 shows a schematic view of the concept underlying various embodiments of the present invention. The present device operates on the principle of utilizing a net torque on a wheel pair to induce a normal force, at each wheel, on the surface of a rail or guide passing between the wheels. These normal forces in turn induce frictional forces between the wheels on the guide surface that allow the applied torque to move the device up or down along the guide. In this way, the present invention relies on the force of gravity to secure the present device against a guide for movement therealong. For purposes of simplicity, this core portion of the present invention is referred to herein as a “climbing device” or “climbing mechanism,” even though the device allows both up and down movement along a guide, and also allows for horizontal movement along a guide.

In the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 1, the present device 110 is constructed with first and second wheels 112 and 114. For purposes of clarity, device 110 will be referred to hereinafter as climbing mechanism 110, referring to the underlying mechanism for locomotion of the various embodiments of the present invention. Thus, climbing mechanism 110 may be referred to with respect to each of the various embodiments of the present invention described hereinafter. First and second wheels 112 and 114 are rotatably attached to a cross bar portion 121, crossbar portion 121 being located at a first end of a bar portion 120 and fixedly attached thereto. A load (not shown) is present at a second end of bar portion 120, being a distal end of bar portion 120 relative to the first end of bar portion 120 attached to cross bar portion 121. The load present at a distal end of bar portion 120 produces, due to the effects of gravity, a force that tends to bias bar portion 120 in the direction of arrow 123. The present device is positioned along a guide 122, as shown in FIG. 1, wherein first wheel 112 is positioned on a first side of guide 122 and second wheel 114 is positioned along a second, opposing side of guide 122. The action of gravity on the load attached to bar portion 120 not only biases bar portion 120 in the direction of arrow 123, but because of this bias causes first and second wheels 112 and 114 to securely engage guide 122.

FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of another embodiment 210 of a climbing mechanism constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, the embodiment having three wheels in use therewith. Wheels 212 and 214 are biased against guide 222 by a load associated with support portion 220. The force of gravity, acting on a load associated with support portion 220, imparts the necessary force (in the direction of arrow 223) required to create the rotational moment that biases wheels 212 and 214 against guide 222. In this embodiment of the present invention, however, a bias restriction wheel 216 is also included. Bias restriction wheel 216 is attached to support portion 220 at a point a distance below wheel 214, and on the same side of guide 222 as wheel 214. During normal operation of climbing mechanism 210, bias restriction wheel 216 is not necessarily in contact with guide 222 and does not necessarily serve in any way to secure climbing mechanism 210 to guide 222. Should a malfunction of climbing mechanism 210 occur, however, the result of which being the continued bias of climbing mechanism 210 past the point where wheels 212 and 214 engage guide 222, bias restriction wheel 216 will contact guide 222 and prevent climbing mechanism 210 from becoming over-biased with respect to the guide, thereby enabling climbing mechanism 210 to remain a substantially upright orientation despite the malfunction. Further, should the load associated with support portion 220 over-bias the present device, it is possible that wheels 212 and 214 will become inoperable. Bias restriction wheel 216 further ensures that regardless of the weight associated with support portion 220, the present device does not become over-biased such that wheels 212 and 214 are inoperable. It is contemplated that while a bias restriction wheel is described above, any other suitable structure could be used as a bias restriction portion, including a bar portion extending from the present device toward the guide and properly placed such that the bar portion contacts the guide in the event the present device tends to become over-biased. The bar portion or other structure used as a bias restriction portion may include a gripping or protecting portion, such as a covering or end cap constructed from rubber, synthetic polymer, or any other suitable material. It is further contemplated that any suitable positioning of one or more bias restriction wheels or one or more safety wheels (described below) may be utilized without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention. The positioning of bias restriction wheels and safety wheels described herein is exemplary only.

FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of another embodiment 310 of a climbing mechanism constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, the embodiment having four wheels in use therewith. As in the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, climbing mechanism 310 shown in FIG. 3 includes two wheels 312 and 314 that are biased against a guide 322 by a load associated with support portion 320 of climbing mechanism 310 by the force of gravity pulling on the load in the direction indicated by arrow 323. Also included, as described above with respect to FIG. 2, is a bias restriction wheel 316. Climbing mechanism 310 further includes a safety wheel 318 attached to support portion 320, the safety wheel being located a distance below wheel 312 and on the same side of guide 322 as wheel 312. During normal operation of climbing mechanism 310, safety wheel 318 is not in contact with guide 322 and does not serve in any way to secure climbing mechanism 310 to guide 322. Should climbing mechanism 310 experience bias in a direction substantially opposite to that indicated by arrow 323, however, safety wheel 318 prevents the climbing mechanism 310 from being sufficiently displaced in that direction to disengage guide 322. As with the bias restriction portion described above, although safety wheel 318 is described as a wheel, any suitable structure may be used to prevent displacement of the present device, thereby forming a safety portion provided with the present device and positioned so as to prevent over-displacement of the climbing mechanism of the present device. Safety wheel 318 may be positioned in any suitable location.

In each of the embodiments of the present invention described herein, the structure to which wheels 212, 214, 216, 318, and other analogous wheels or structures are attached, referred to as support portions, including crossbars, and the like, may be referred to collectively as frame portions, and the phrase “frame portion,” as used herein, includes any and all such structures described herein, and further is not limited by the structures described herein. A “frame portion” may be any suitable structure to which the necessary and/or desired functional components of the present invention are attached to form a climbing mechanism.

FIG. 4 provides a perspective view of one embodiment of a climbing mechanism 410 constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention adapted for use with an I-beam as a guide 422. In this embodiment of the present invention, two first wheels 412 are provided, one being located in a first channel 430 of I-beam 422, the other being similarly positioned in a second channel 432 of I-beam 422. The first wheel 412 located in second channel 432 is not visible in FIG. 4 A single second wheel 414 is provided, preferably having a length extending substantially across a surface of I-beam 422 to be engaged by second wheel 414. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIG. 4, second wheel 414 further includes teeth 424 extending longitudinally along a length thereof, and a surface of I-beam 422 to be engaged by second wheel 414 includes corresponding grooves 426 to securely engage teeth 424. The embodiment of the present device shown in FIG. 4 may also include one or more bias restriction wheels or safety wheels, as described with respect to other embodiments above.

FIG. 4 provides only a cutoff view of support portion 420 extending away from I-beam 422 at an angle. A load (not shown) is attached to support portion 420 and, through the action of gravity, exerts a force in roughly the direction indicated by arrow 423. This force biases first wheels 412 against inner surfaces of channels 430 and 432, respectively, and also biases second wheel 414 against a surface of I-Beam 422 opposite the inner surfaces against which first wheels 412 are biased. In the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 4, this biasing force not only causes first wheels 412 and second wheels 414 to engage I-beam 422, but also causes teeth 424 of second wheel 414 to engage grooves 426 of I-beam 422.

FIG. 5 provides a top cross-sectional view of the embodiment of the present device shown in FIG. 4. In this figure, both first wheels 412 are shown, as is second wheel 414. The relative positions of first wheels 412 and second wheel 414 as they relate to the I-beam are also shown. Although FIGS. 4 and 5 both show second wheel 414 as extending substantially across the width of a surface of I-beam 422, it is contemplated that second wheel 414 may be shorter or longer in terms of length along its longitudinal axis without departing from the scope of the present invention. Likewise, first wheels 412 may vary in length. Any of first wheels 412 and second wheel 414 may vary in width, circumference, or other dimensions and still remain within the scope of the present invention so long as the dimensions are suitable for the purposes of the present invention as described herein. In addition, two or more second wheels 414 may be used in place of a single second wheel 414. The embodiment shown in FIG. 5 may also include one or more bias restriction wheels or safety wheels, as described with respect to other embodiments of the present invention above.

FIG. 6 is an elevational view of one embodiment of a climbing mechanism 510 constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention adapted for use with a C-channel as guide 522, the figure showing climbing mechanism 510 without a housing portion that is preferably included (and is described in more detail below), as well as cutouts to show in detail the workings of climbing mechanism 510. The embodiment of climbing mechanism 510 shown in FIG. 6 preferably includes two first wheels 512, only one of which is visible through a cutout in C-channel 522 (although a single wheel 512 that has sufficient length to substantially span the channel may be used). The other first wheel 512 is positioned similarly to the one shown in the figure, except that it is located on an opposite end of C-channel 522 (as best shown in FIG. 7). The embodiment of the climbing mechanism 510 shown in FIG. 6 likewise includes two second wheels 514. Second wheels 514 preferably include teeth for securely engaging climbing mechanism 510 to guide 522. Two safety wheels 518 and bias restriction wheels 516 are also provided. Safety wheels 518 are situated similarly to first wheels 512, though spaced apart therefrom and lower along a vertical height of climbing mechanism 510. Bias restriction wheels 516 are situated similarly to second wheels 514, though spaced apart therefrom and lower along a vertical height of climbing mechanism 510. Further, bias restriction wheels 516 preferably include teeth 516a.

Each of the various wheels 512, 514, and 516 are preferably rotatably engaged with support portion 520. As in the embodiments of the present climbing mechanism described above, support portion 520 is engaged with a load that, through the force of gravity, biases climbing mechanism 510 such that first wheels 512 and second wheels 514 engage guide 522. First wheels 512 or second wheels 514 may be rotated, such as with a motor, allowing climbing mechanism 510 to move along the length of guide 522 in either direction depending on the direction of rotation of the wheels.

FIG. 6 further illustrates cut-out portion 534 of guide 522. Cut-out portion 534 allows for insertion of first wheels 512 (and in some embodiments of the present invention, safety wheels 518) to be positioned within the C-channel of guide 522. Thus, a mobile device having the present invention included therewith may be transported or driven to a location, such as a building, having a guide 522 associated therewith, and may engage guide 522 by using cut-out portion 534 to properly position the various wheels of climbing mechanism 510 within guide 522. Exemplary embodiments of such mobile systems are described in greater detail below.

FIG. 7 provides a top cross-sectional view of the embodiment of climbing mechanism 510 shown in FIG. 6. In this figure, both first wheels 512 are shown, as are both second wheels 514. The relative positions of first wheels 512 and second wheels 514 as they relate to the C-channel guide 522 are also shown.

FIG. 8 is an elevational view of one embodiment of the present invention wherein the climbing mechanism 410 includes a housing 440 covering the various components of the system that have been described previously. FIG. 8 further shows a motor 436 associated with the system and used to drive the system such as, for example, by turning second wheel 414. While second wheel 414 cannot be seen in the drawing, an axle 438 associated with second wheel 414 is shown. Further, axle 442, associated with one of first wheels 412, axle 444, associated with one of safety wheels 418 (not shown), and axle 448, associated with one of bias restriction wheels 416 (not shown), are also provided in the figure. First wheels 412 are visibly located within the opposing channels of I-beam or guide 422.

Also shown in FIG. 8 are cut-out portions 434, which allow for insertion of first wheels 412 and, in some embodiments, safety wheels 418, into the opposing channels of guide 422. Thus, a mobile device having a climbing mechanism of the present invention associated therewith may be transported or driven to a location, such as a building, having a guide 422 with cut-out portions 434 associated therewith, and the mobile device having the present invention associated therewith can engage guide 422 via the present climbing mechanism 410 or another embodiment thereof.

As described above, each of the various embodiments of the present climbing mechanism utilize the same underlying principle in order to move along a guide. As will be described now, the present climbing mechanism may be adapted for use with a mobile device that may be easily transported or driven to a site, such as a building, having a guide suitable for use by the present climbing mechanism. Thus, it is envisioned that numerous buildings and other structures in a given area may be fitted with a guide suitable for use by the present climbing mechanism. Local fire and rescue personnel, or other first responders, may then use mobile embodiments of the present invention in conjunction with these guides during an emergency situation or when otherwise necessary or desirable. The fire or rescue personnel, or other first responders, simply drive or transport the mobile embodiment of the present invention to the location having the guide and engage the climbing mechanism of the mobile device with the guide. The need for a built-in device or system of the present invention at each building or structure is eliminated (although it is contemplated that a device constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention certainly could be built in to a given structure). Various mobile embodiments of the present invention are now described, along with the various features and uses thereof.

FIG. 9 shows a conceptual framework for one embodiment of a mobile device of the present system. The figure serves to illustrate a manner in which a mobile device adapted to include the present invention may be constructed. It should be noted that this conceptual framework is meant for purposes of illustration only and is not meant to limit the scope of the present invention.

Mobile framework 600, as shown in FIG. 9, includes a frame portion having a front and a rear and including, generally, two opposing side portions joined by a bottom portion. A receiving portion 610 is preferably formed between the two opposing side portions at the front of mobile framework 600 for receiving a guide therein. Mobile framework 600 further includes three wheels 604 rotatably attached thereto (only two of which are visible in FIG. 9). As shown in the figure, a single wheel 604 is attached to the rear of the device whereas two wheels 604 are located nearer the front of the device and connected by an axle 608. The conceptual drawing does not show the attachment of wheels 604 to mobile framework 600, serving to show only a conceptual image of the device providing the necessary or desirable features of mobile framework 600. It is noted that various approaches for attaching the wheels to the device and other general mechanical aspects of the invention will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skills in the art. Lastly, as shown in FIG. 9, mobile framework 600 includes a series of openings 606 for attaching a climbing mechanism of the present invention (such as climbing mechanism 410 or 510, for example) thereto. In the embodiment of mobile framework 600 shown in FIG. 9, openings 606 correspond generally to the positions of the various axles associated with the wheels of embodiments of the present climbing mechanism, such as embodiments 410 and 510.

FIG. 10 shows conceptual mobile framework 600 properly positioned with respect to a guide 422 for use in conjunction with the present invention. Guide 422 is an I-beam associated with a building or other structure such that mobile framework 600 will be able to climb guide 422, and therefore climb an exterior of a building, using the present climbing mechanism. As can be seen from the drawings, the openings 606 for first wheels 412 and safety wheels 418 are properly positioned within opposing channels of guide 422, while the openings for second wheel 414 and bias restriction wheels 416 are properly positioned outside of the opposing channels of guide 422 such that these wheels function as described above. Although shown in conjunction with an I-beam as a guide 422, mobile framework 600 may also be adapted for use with a C-channel or any other suitable guide. Is it contemplated that guide 422, or any other guide associated with a structure for use with the present invention, may be secured to a structure at such a height that an individual passing near the guide will be unable to climb or otherwise engage the guide. In such circumstances, the climbing portion of the present invention is provided at a corresponding height, or is readily raised to a corresponding height, in order to engage the guide. It is further contemplated that a guide used in conjunction with the present invention, such as for example guide 422, may be covered by a protective covering that is readily removed by rescue or other personnel prior to engaging the climbing mechanism of the present device to said guide.

FIG. 11 shows conceptual mobile framework 600 used in conjunction with a support platform 620 for delivering people or objects along the length of guide 422. Again, conceptual framework 600 would, in practice, contain a motorized climbing mechanism of the present invention (such as climbing mechanism 410 or 510). Mobile framework 600 simply presents an exemplary structure for providing mobility to the present invention. Fixedly attached to mobile framework 600 is support platform 620, which includes opposing side walls 622 and 624, opposing end walls 626 and 628, and a floor portion 630. Support portion 620 further includes a housing portion 632 for protecting the climbing mechanism of the present invention and mobile framework 600. It is contemplated that the mobile framework 600 and support portion 620 combination may be entirely self-sufficient, in that an operator standing within support portion 620 may control the movement of the entire structure using controls contained within support portion 620. In this way, the combination of mobile framework 600 and support portion 620 becomes a mobile platform that may be driven by a user to a location where the combination may be associated with a guide via a climbing mechanism of the present invention. After engaging the guide, the climbing mechanism of the present invention allows the mobile framework 600 and support portion 620 combination to be moved along a length of the guide, and therefore any person or object located within or on support portion 620 is also so transported.

FIG. 12 shows the combination of mobile framework 600 and support portion 620 associated with a guide 422 and having traveled along a length thereof, utilizing the principles of the present invention. In the figure, guide 422 is associated with a building and support portion 620 (and therefore any person or object on support portion 620) has been moved along guide 422 to be positioned adjacent a desired set of windows. When so positioned, the device allows for ease of insertion of fire, rescue, or other personnel through the windows and into the building.

FIG. 13 provides an alternative exemplary embodiment of a mobile version of the present system, the embodiment including a motorized or powered portion 700 and a separate insertion or evacuation compartment 708. It is preferred, as shown in FIG. 13, that powered portion 700 be adapted to tow insertion compartment 708. Powered portion 700 of this embodiment of the present system preferably includes a cockpit portion 702 and a housing 704. Cockpit portion 702 is preferably sized and shaped such that at least one person may be sitting or otherwise located within cockpit portion 702 in order to drive the device. An attachment portion 706 is fixedly attached to a front of housing 704. Within attachment portion 706 is contained the present climbing mechanism, such as for example climbing mechanism 410 or 510. Insertion compartment 708 preferably includes at least one door 716 leading to an interior space, and interior space sized and shaped such that people or objects may be located therein. Both powered portion 700 and insertion compartment 708 preferably include wheels and respective mechanisms for towing insertion compartment 708 with powered portion 700. It is contemplated that providing wheels and a towing mechanism to these devices will be within the capabilities of one of ordinary skill in the art upon reading this disclosure.

Once powered portion 700 and insertion compartment 708 arrive at a location having a suitable guide (such as at a building fitted with guide 422), powered portion 700 engages the guide via the present climbing mechanism located within attachment portion 706. The climbing mechanism of the present invention is then used to move powered portion 700 vertically along the length of the guide over a distance adequate to allow insertion compartment 708 to be positioned beneath powered portion 700. The wheels of powered portion 700 are preferably retractable into the housing thereof, or are able to be received by an adequate structure atop insertion compartment 708. Once located under powered portion 700, insertion compartment 708 can be readily secured thereto. Then, as powered portion 700 is engaged to climb further along a length of the guide, insertion compartment 708 is moved along the guide as well, taking people or objects within to a desired location along the length of the guide.

FIG. 14 provides a front view of powered portion 700 with insertion compartment 708 fixedly attached thereto. A climbing mechanism 410 of the present invention can be seen associated with powered portion 700. Insertion compartment 708 includes two doorways 710 and 712 through which people and objects can be moved from within insertion compartment 708 and into a building (through windows, for example, such as those shown in FIG. 12). Thus, the embodiments of the present invention shown in FIGS. 13 and 14 provide a self-contained system for delivery of a climbing mechanism 410 (or other embodiment thereof) to a location having a suitable guide, engaging the climbing mechanism to the guide, engaging a compartment to the climbing mechanism, and moving the entire assembly along the guide. The embodiment of the present system shown in FIG. 14 is, then, a self-contained, mobile, extraction or insertion device.

FIG. 15 provides a cross-sectional side illustration of one embodiment of a self-contained mobile insertion and extraction device 800 constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention. The device preferably includes a cockpit area 802, a body 804, an attachment portion 806, and a ramp 808.

Cockpit area 802 preferably includes all of the components a user of the present device would typically need to maneuver the device in order to transport it from one location to another. This generally includes a windshield such as windshield 814 so that a user of the present device is able to see the area immediately surrounding extraction device 800 and maneuver accordingly. Other items present within cockpit area 802 preferably include a seat, a steering apparatus, a safety harness or seatbelt for holding a user securely to the seat, pedals or other devices for acceleration, breaking, and if necessary, gear shifting. Various instruments indicating speed, remaining fuel, engine temperature, and the like are also contemplated. These aspects of the present invention are not specifically labeled or shown in the drawings as it is considered well within the scope of the art to incorporate these standard features into the novel device of the present invention. It is contemplated that any of the various embodiments of the device of the present invention can be fueled in any suitable manner, including but not limited to battery power, fuel cells, electric power, solar power, gasoline, diesel, propane, ethanol, and combinations thereof.

Body 804 of extraction device 800 preferably encloses the cockpit and other areas of the device such that the device becomes an enclosed vehicle during transport. Attachment portion 806 is preferably fixedly attached to body 804 and contains a climbing mechanism of the present invention such as climbing mechanism 410 or 510. When extraction device 800 arrives at a location having a suitable guide associated therewith, a user of extraction device 800 simply positions the device correctly relative to the guide (such as by using cutout portions in the guide, as described above), then engages the climbing mechanism within attachment portion 806 to the guide, and extraction device 800 moves along the length of the guide.

As also shown in FIG. 15, extraction device 800 preferably includes a ramp portion 808 extending from a rear portion thereof, ramp 808 allowing easy access of fire, rescue, or other personnel into the interior of extraction device 800, as well as allowing a means of entry for a driver or pilot of the device. Ramp portion 808 can preferably be lowered from either the inside or outside of extraction device 800, and then closed from either the inside or outside. It is preferred that a locking mechanism be present in order to allow ramp portion 808 to be securely locked when desired.

FIG. 16 provides a front view of the extraction device 800 shown in FIG. 15. In addition to the aspects of extraction device 800 described above, extraction device 800 further includes two doorways 810 and 812 through which fire, rescue, or other personnel, or objects, may be transported into a building. Doorways 810 and 812 preferably align with windows such as those of a high-rise building so that people or objects passing through doorways 810 and 812 are able to readily enter the building. Further, it is preferred that at least one of doorways 810 and 812 are extendable. As shown in the figure, doorway 812 is extendable from side to side relative to extraction device 800, with accordion frame 814 extending as doorway 812 extends, thereby keeping the intervening space within extraction device 800 enclosed. Doorway 812 may be extended in such a manner that it aligns with a window or other entry point of a building, thereby providing a means for entry into or exit from a building in situations wherein the building's windows or other entry points are not at aligned with extraction device 800 when it first climbs the rail to the desired height. It is preferred that a driver or pilot of the extraction device 800, seated in cockpit area 802, have the ability to extend doorway 812 (or, in some embodiments, doorway 810 or both doorways). This extension may be performed in any suitable manner, using for example a solenoid, stepper motor, or other motor to accomplish the extension. Then, when desired, a user of extraction device 800 may likewise retract doorway 812 to its original position.

FIG. 17 provides a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of an insertion and extraction device 900. Extraction device 900 is generally similar to insertion device 800, with features added to make use of extraction device 900 practical for fire, rescue, or other personnel. Extraction device 900 includes a cockpit area (not shown but preferably similar to that described with respect to extraction device 800, above), as well as a windshield 914 to provide a driver or pilot of extraction device 900 with a view of the surrounding area while driving extraction device 900. Extraction device 900 includes a body 904 that generally contains the other components of extraction device 900 and defines the various interior spaces thereof. Also included is an attachment portion 906 fixedly attached to body 904 and containing a climbing mechanism of the present invention therein.

In any of the embodiments described herein, or in other embodiments of the present invention not described herein, any portion of the present device used to support or contain first responders or other personnel which the present device is active may be referred to generally as a “staging portion.” This includes the support platform, insertion compartment, and interior spaces of the present device described above.

Although the present description refers to a ‘climbing mechanism’ or ‘climbing portion’ of the present device relying on the biasing mechanism described above, it is contemplated that the climbing portion of the present device is able to move the present device in a horizontal as well as vertical manner, or along any incline therebetween. It is further understood that the present description refers to a frame associated with climbing portion (such as the crossbar and other structural features associated therewith, which may be referred to generally a frame), as well as a frame associated with the guide-free mobile aspects of the device described above. Likewise, some wheels described above are associated with the climbing portion while others are associated with the guide-free mobile aspects of the device. For the sake of clarity, these portions of the present invention may be referred to as the climbing frame and climbing wheels (when referring to those aspects of the invention associated with the climbing mechanism), and simply as the wheels and frame when referring to those aspects not directly associated with the climbing mechanism. Further, although various platforms, insertion compartments, or other features of the present invention are described above for housing rescue or other personnel, or for containing individuals extracted from a building, for the sake of simplicity these portions of the present invention may be referred to generally as staging portions.

In addition to the above, it is further contemplated that the climbing mechanism of the present device may, in some embodiments, include the ability to allow an operator of the present device to manually move the device along a guide in the event that a motorized aspect of the present device for moving the device along a guide should fail. Further, it is contemplated that any of the above embodiments of the present invention may be provided as permanent or removable portions of a structure, such that the equivalent of the mobile embodiments of the device described above may be located and positioned at a structure as a matter of course, rather than relying on transportation to a structure at the time of an emergency.

It is also contemplated that the present device may be built-in to a structure, such as a building, such that the climbing mechanism, guide, and other desired components of the present device, such as a staging portion, are permanent or semi-permanent components of a structure such as a building. In such embodiments, there is no need to transport the present device to a structure prior to using the present device.

The foregoing description of the various embodiments of the present invention is provided for purposes of clarity and illustration and is not intended to limit the present invention. It is contemplated that numerous modifications to the present invention will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art upon reading this disclosure. The foregoing should not be construed to limit the broad nature of the present invention, which is limited only by the claims that follow.