Title:
RIDE OPERATION, IN PARTICULAR A ROLLER-COASTER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to an amusement device, in particular a roller-coaster, comprising a guide and a carriage, which carriage has a bogie, which is secured to the guide so that the carriage can be moved along the guide, and a passenger compartment, that can be rotated relative to the bogie about at least one axis extending transversely to the direction in which the bogie moves, and a method of operating an amusement device, in particular a roller-coaster, wherein a carriage is moved along a guide of the amusement device, such that a passenger compartment of the carriage is rotated relative to a bogie of the carriage about at least one axis extending transversely to the direction in which the bogie moves.



Inventors:
Heinrich, Franz Xaver (Munchen, DE)
Application Number:
11/970291
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
01/07/2008
Assignee:
Heinrich, Franz Xaver (Munchen, DE)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63G7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KUHFUSS, ZACHARY L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RATNERPRESTIA (King of Prussia, PA, US)
Claims:
1. Amusement device comprising a guide and a carriage, which carriage has a bogie, which is secured to the guide so that the carriage is configured to be moved along the guide, and a passenger compartment, wherein the passenger compartment is configured to be rotated relative to the bogie about at least one axis (N, G), which extends transversely to the direction in which the bogie moves.

2. Amusement device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the carriage is disposed on the guide in a conventional or inverted configuration.

3. Amusement device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the carriage is disposed on the guide so that the carriage is configured to assume both a conventional and an inverted configuration as it moves along the guide.

4. Amusement device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the bogie is disposed so that it can not yaw, pitch and roll relative to the guide and the yawing, pitching and rolling movements of the bogie therefore depend on the geometric contour of the guide.

5. Amusement device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the guide has a section with a screw-shaped course, as a result of which the carriage effects a rolling movement during the movement through this section in order to change from a conventional and inverted configuration into the other of the conventional and inverted configurations.

6. Amusement device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the passenger compartment is configured to be rotated from an orientation in the direction of travel into an orientation opposite the direction of travel and vice versa.

7. Amusement device as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a control or automatic control system by means of which a rotation angle, of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie is controlled.

8. Amusement device as claimed in claim 1, further comprising at least one of a tower, an elevator, a conveyor belt or an approach ramp for transmitting potential energy to the carriage.

9. Carriage for an or for operating on an amusement device comprising a bogie, which is configured to be secured to a guide of the amusement device so that the carriage is configured to be moved along the guide, and a passenger compartment, wherein the passenger compartment is configured to be rotated relative to the bogie about at least one axis (N, G), which extends transversely to the direction in which the bogie moves.

10. Carriage as claimed in claim 9, wherein the carriage is configured to be separate or to be coupled with at least one other such carriage to form a train.

11. Carriage as claimed in claim 9, wherein the at least one axis is a pitch axis (N), by means of which the passenger compartment is configured to effect a pitching movement relative to the bogie, or a yaw axis (G), by means of which the passenger compartment is configured to effect a yawing movement relative to the bogie.

12. Carriage as claimed in claim 9, wherein the passenger compartment is configured to be rotated relative to the bogie about the at least one axis (N, G) freely, by motor or damped.

13. Carriage as claimed in claim 9, further comprising at least a part of a control or automatic control unit which is configured to vary the at least one of the pitch or yaw angle of the passenger compartment so that as a downhill gradient of the guide changes or an uphill pitch of the guide changes, an angle subtended by the passenger compartment and a standing surface of the amusement device remains substantially constant.

14. Method of operating an amusement device, in particular a roller-coaster, whereby a carriage is moved along a guide of the amusement device, wherein a passenger compartment of the carriage is rotated relative to a bogie of the carriage about at least one axis (G, N) which extends transversely to the direction in which the bogie moves.

15. Method as claimed in claim 14, wherein a change of travel direction is caused by a by a pitching movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie, at least one of a rolling movement or pitching movement of the bogie dependent on the guide, or by a yawing movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie.

16. Method as claimed in claim 14, wherein a change of configuration of the carriage between conventional and inverted is caused by a at least one of a pitching movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie, a rolling movement of the carriage or a yawing movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie induced by the guide.

17. Method as claimed in claim 14, wherein the passenger compartment effects at least one of a yawing or pitching movement relative to the bogie when there is a change in the course of the guide.

18. Method as claimed in claim 14, wherein at least one of a yawing or pitching movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie is effected so that an angle or an absolute position which the passenger compartment assumes relative to a standing surface is kept substantially constant.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to an amusement device, in particular a roller-coaster, and at least one passenger can be seated in a carriage and the carriage transports the passenger along a rail system in order to induce a feeling of enjoyment in the passenger.

BACKGROUND

A number of roller-coasters are known from the prior art. For example, document DE 203 16 345 U1 discloses a roller-coaster with a vertical approach run. The roller-coaster has a guide along which the carriage is moved. In patent specification US 2005/0274275 A1, FIG. 1A illustrates what is referred to as an inverted configuration and FIG. 1B what is referred to as a conventional configuration of a roller-coaster.

Patent specification U.S. Pat. No. 6,755,749 B2 describes what is referred to as a free-fall tower, in which a passenger unit in the form of a train is moved to the top of the tower and can then drop down from the tower in a free-fall. It is also disclosed that once the train has been moved to the top of the tower, the tower is rotated about its longitudinal axis so that the train disposed at the top end of the tower is guided in a different rail system.

Patent specification WO 03/009914 A1 describes an amusement device, where the fun of the ride is enhanced in a simple manner due to the fact that the original type of movement, for example a passenger car travelling on rails along a roller-coaster, is subjected to a different type of movement or, alternatively, the ride continues with this different type of movement. To this end, additional transport switching means are provided at one or more points along the course of the ride, for example on the frame-mounted rails of a roller-coaster, which generate the additional or alternative type of movement for the passenger car.

SUMMARY

The underlying objective of the invention is to specify an amusement device, a carriage for an amusement device and a method of operating the amusement device, by means of which the fun of the ride can be enhanced for one or more passengers.

This objective is achieved by the subject matter defined in the independent claims. Advantageous embodiments are defined in the dependent claims.

An amusement device proposed by the invention is preferably a roller-coaster, although the invention may also be used with other amusement devices. The term roller-coaster was originally used to refer to a roller-coaster ride in the shape of a “figure of eight”. However, the term “roller-coaster” is not limited to such a shape. Instead, a roller-coaster proposed by the invention may incorporate a plurality of uphill runs, downhill runs, towers, loop, circles, screws, steep curves and so on, or combinations of these. For example, a roller-coaster may have an intrinsically closed ride course and the passengers board or alight the carriage at a station at ground level.

The amusement device comprises a guide and a carriage. The guide may comprise at least one rail for example, preferably two rails, and the course of the guide defines the travel route of the carriage. The carriage is preferably coupled with the guide so that it can merely be moved along the guide. In particular, the carriage should have fixing mechanisms, which on the one hand enable the carriage to move on the guide with little friction and on the other hand ensure that the carriage can not come off the guide irrespective of its position. A fixing mechanism may comprise several rollers, which extend around several sides of the guide so that the carriage can not be derailed.

The carriage comprises a bogie and a passenger compartment. In particular, the bogie of the carriage is secured to the guide so that the carriage can be moved along the guide. Preferably, the bogie incorporates the at least one fixing mechanism by means of which the carriage can be secured to the guide.

The passenger compartment may have a seat or a frame on which the seat is disposed. In particular, several seats may be disposed adjacent to one another and/or one behind the other on a single frame or each disposed respectively on a frame. The passenger compartment specifically has a passenger safety device, for example a pivotable curved bar which extends around a passenger in the region of the chest in order to secure the passengers on the seat during the ride.

The invention is distinctive due to the fact that the passenger compartment can be rotated, for example pivoted, relative to the bogie about at least one axis which extends transversely to the direction in which the bogie is moving. For example, the at least one axis may be a yaw axis or a pitch axis. In preferred embodiments, the passenger compartment may be rotated about both the yaw axis and the pitch axis. The pitch and yaw axis may extend perpendicular to one another and/or may extend respectively perpendicular to the direction in which the bogie moves along the guide. In particular, the pitch axis may be disposed parallel with a guide plane. The guide plane is the plane which extends at a tangent to the point at which the carriage is disposed. For example, the guide plane extends through both rails. In particular, the yaw axis may extend perpendicular, for example normal to, the guide plane.

The terms “pitch”, “yaw” and “rolling” are used in the same way as used when defining the movement of an aircraft. In particular, the term yawing should be interpreted as meaning the rotation of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie about the axis from the point of view of the passenger seated in a specific way in the passenger compartment. The passenger will perceive a yawing movement as a rotation towards the left or right. By pitching is meant the rotating movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie about the pitch axis from the viewpoint of the passenger disposed in a specific way in the passenger compartment. The passenger will perceive a pitching movement as a rotating movement forwards or backwards. By rolling is meant a rotation which the bogie or the carriage effects relative to the surrounding area in which the amusement device is erected, about the roll axis from the viewpoint of the bogie, and the roll axis points in particular in the direction in which the bogie is moving. The passenger will generally perceive a rolling movement as a lateral tipping action to the left or right.

The bogie is preferably disposed so that it is not able to yaw, pitch and roll relative to the guide, in which case the yawing, pitching and rolling movements of the bogie depend on the geometric contour of the guide.

In order to be able to effect yawing or pitching movements, rotary bearings may be provided, which permit a rotation. For example, the passenger compartment, in particular the seat, may be coupled with the bogie by means of a frame. The seat is mounted so that it can rotate relative to the frame about the yaw or pitch axis. Accordingly, the frame may be mounted so that it can be rotated about the pitch or yaw axis. The passenger compartment can preferably be freely rotatable about at least one axis relative to the bogie, by motor or damped. Freely rotatable may mean, for example, that an essentially unaffected rotation is possible about the axis, although this does not rule out a situation where the rotation is initially locked and then released at a desired point in time to permit a free rotation. A motorised drive may be provided with an electric motor, a hydraulic motor or a pneumatic motor, for example. For example, the motor may be switched so that it is torque-free, for example, in which case a free rotation is possible. In the case of a damped rotation, a torque is preferably generated by means of a damping element in the direction opposite the direction of rotation. Magneto-rheological or electro-rheological materials may be used for this purpose. It would also be conceivable for a damping effect to be produced by operating the motor in generator or throttled mode.

The carriage and/or the amusement device may preferably incorporate a full or at least partial element of a control and regulating unit for example, which is able to vary the pitching or yawing movement, in particular the pitch and/or yaw angle of the passenger compartment, so that an angle subtended by the passenger compartment and a standing surface of the amusement device can be kept more or less constant, even in the event of a changing downward gradient of the guide or a changing rising gradient of the guide. This being the case, when the carriage is entering a section of downward gradient which would cause a pitching movement of the carriage for example, the angle which the passenger compartment subtends with the standing surface of the amusement device before, during and after the section of downward gradient is kept constant due to an opposing pitching movement of the passenger compartment. Due to the superimposed rotating movements, the passenger will subjectively not be able to perceive any rotating movement. The same applies to a yawing movement or a combined yawing and pitching movement.

The bogie is preferably a single bogie. However, an embodiment would also be conceivable in which a carriage can be coupled with another such carriage to form a train.

The carriage may be disposed on the guide in a conventional or inverted configuration, for example. By particular preference and constituting one advantage of the invention, the carriage is disposed on the guide so that the carriage is able to assume both a conventional and an inverted configuration as it moves along the guide. For example, the guide may have a screw or a half-loop, by means of which the carriage can be switched from a conventional to an inverted configuration and vice versa, for example, in particular with a superimposed pitching movement. By conventional configuration is meant a disposition of the passenger in which his head is pointing away from the guide. By an inverted configuration is meant a disposition of the passenger in which the passenger has his head pointing towards the guide. In particular, during a change of configuration, the passenger compartment may be rotated about the pitch axis so that the passenger is switched from a position in which his head is pointing away from the guide to a position in which his head is pointing towards the guide. This may take place on a straight run or in a half-loop or in a screw-shaped section of the guide, for example. In particular, the guide may have a section with a screw-shaped contour, as a result of which the carriage effects a rolling movement through this section in order to change from a conventional and inverted configuration to the other of the conventional and inverted configuration.

The passenger compartment may advantageously be rotated from an orientation in the direction of travel into an orientation opposite the direction of travel and vice versa. A change in orientation may take place with a rotation about the pitch axis or with a rotation about the yaw axis, for example. The amusement device preferably has a leading-in element, in particular a tower, an elevator or an approach ramp, by means of which potential energy can be transmitted to the carriage. This potential energy is converted into kinetic energy when the carriage is switched from a raised position to a lower position and vice versa.

The invention further relates to a method of operating the amusement device, whereby the carriage is moved along the guide of the amusement device. The method is characterised by the fact that the passenger compartment of the carriage is rotated relative to the bogie of the carriage about at least one axis extending transversely to the direction in which the bogie moves.

A change of travel direction is effected by means of a pitching movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie. For example, a rolling movement or pitching movement of the bogie dependent on the guide may be superimposed on the pitching movement. Alternatively, the change of travel direction may be brought about by a yawing movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie.

In particular, the change to the configuration of the carriage from conventional to inverted or vice versa may be caused by a pitching movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie. In particular, the pitching movement may be combined with a rolling movement of the carriage induced in front of the guide and/or a yawing movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie. The advantage of the rolling movement is that the upside down position of the passenger induced by the pitching movement is converted into a normal position. If, as an alternative or in addition, a yawing movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie is superimposed, the change of travel direction induced by the pitching movement of the passenger compartment is compensated, in other words the direction of travel is changed again so that the orientation of the passenger compartment relative to the direction of movement corresponds to the orientation which the passenger compartment assumed prior to the pitching movement.

Generally speaking, it is preferable if, when there is a change of course in the guide, for example when the bogie effects a yawing, pitching or rolling movement relative to the surrounding area, the passenger compartment effects a yawing and/or pitching movement relative to the bogie. This being the case, additional effects can be created which are not induced by the course of the guide.

In particular, it is possible to effect a yawing and/or pitching movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie so that an angle assumed by the passenger compartment relative to the standing surface of the amusement device is kept more or less constant. The advantage of this is that the passenger has the impression that only axial movements are acting on his body.

For example, the rotation about the at least one axis may be controlled so that during the movement of the carriage along the guide, the passenger is oriented, at least in certain sections, in the direction of one point, even if the guide is changing course, and the point may be a distant point or a point in the area around the amusement device.

For example, the amusement device may be operated like a conventional amusement device, in that the rotating movements about the yaw and/or pitch axis are locked. For example, a passenger may select a specific programme before or during the ride, i.e. a specific combination of rotating movements about the at least one axis. This means that the amusement device can be deployed universally and has an advantage over conventional amusement devices because it is not necessary to rebuild the entire track in order to change the effects acting on the passenger, and instead, it is merely necessary to change the way the rotating movements about the yaw and/or pitch axis are initiated. This has the effect of ensuring that the ride operation is not boring, as is the case with some conventional amusement devices.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be described with reference to several advantageous embodiments. Preferred embodiments of the invention will be described below with reference to the appended drawings, which advantageously add to the embodiments of the invention described above. Of the drawings:

FIG. 1 illustrates the carriage of a roller-coaster of the type known from the prior art in a conventional configuration,

FIG. 2 shows a carriage of a roller-coaster of the type known from the prior art in an inverted configuration,

FIG. 3 shows a bogie disposed on a guide, in relation to which a yaw axis and a pitch axis are indicated,

FIG. 4 shows a carriage with a passenger compartment, which can be pivoted about a yaw and a pitch axis relative to a bogie,

FIG. 5 shows the carriage illustrated in FIG. 4 and how it can be switched from a conventional configuration to an inverted configuration,

FIG. 6 shows a carriage with a passenger compartment which can effect only a pitching movement relative to the bogie,

FIG. 7 is a carriage proposed by the invention, illustrated in several positions during a downhill run, and

FIG. 8 illustrates how a carriage proposed by the invention effects a half-loop.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a carriage of a roller-coaster, in a standard or conventional configuration, in which the head of the passenger 4 is pointing away from the guide 1. The carriage has a bogie 2, which is disposed on the guide 1 in order to effect a longitudinal movement along the guide 1. The carriage has a seat 8 on which the passenger is seated.

FIG. 2 illustrates a carriage of a roller-coaster in an inverted configuration, in which the head of the passenger 4 is pointing towards the guide 1. The passenger occupies a place on a seat 8 secured to the bogie 2.

If the guide 1 were to effect a loop or a screw during its subsequent course, the carriages illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 would be rotated by 180° or 360°, for example, thereby placing the passenger upside down, at least for a short time. This is not actually a change of configuration because the head is still pointing away from the guide as before, as illustrated in FIG. 1, or is pointing towards the guide as illustrated in FIG. 2.

FIG. 3 illustrates a guide, to which a bogie 2 is secured so that it can be moved along the guide 1 without being derailed. A yaw axis G and a pitch axis N are indicated relative to the bogie 2. In the embodiment illustrated, the yaw axis G extends perpendicular to a guide plane, which extends at a tangent to the track contour of the guide and extends through the two rails of the guide 1. The pitch axis N in this instance extends perpendicular to the yaw axis G and perpendicular to the direction of movement of the carriage 2 into and out of the plane of the drawing. However, the pitch axis may also rotate about the yaw axis G and may be disposed in specific positions, including parallel with the direction of movement of the carriage. In order to secure the bogie on the guide, the bogie 2 is provided with fixing mechanisms 7.

FIG. 4 illustrates a guide 1, on which a carriage comprising a bogie 2 and a passenger compartment 3 is disposed by means of fixing mechanisms 7 attached to the bogie 2. The passenger compartment 3 is coupled with the bogie 2 by means of a frame 10. The frame 10 is connected to the bogie 2 via an articulated joint 6 so as to be rotatable about the yaw axis G. The articulated joint 6 is able to rotate freely and may be motor driven or rotatable and damped.

The passenger compartment 3 is connected to the frame 10, which sits around the passenger compartment 3 to the left and right of the passenger, via two articulated joints 5 so as to be rotatable about the pitch axis N. The passenger compartment 3 is disposed between the articulated joints 5. The articulated joints 5 may also be motor driven, freely rotatable or rotatable and damped. The passenger compartment 3 has a seat 8 in which a passenger can be seated. In order to prevent the passenger from falling out of the seat 8, a passenger safety device 9 is provided, in the form of a curved bar which sits around the chest area of the passenger (not illustrated) seated in the seat. The movement of the passenger compartment relative to the bogie 2 will be described with reference to the embodiments illustrated in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 illustrates a guide 1 on which the carriage illustrated in FIG. 4 is moved from position a) to position b). The carriage is shown respectively in position a) and position b). The guide 1 has a screw-shaped contour from position a) to position b), which causes the carriage respectively the bogie 2 to roll about the roll axis, which corresponds to the direction of movement of the carriage. As a result, the carriage is switched from a conventional configuration illustrated in position a) into an inverted configuration illustrated in position b). So as not be upside down after the rolling movement, the passenger compartment 8 is rotated about the pitch axis N, thereby resulting in the inverted configuration. So that the passenger is not sitting opposite the direction of travel, the frame 10 and hence also the passenger compartment 8 and passenger are also rotated relative to the bogie 2 about the yaw axis G. As required, one or more rotating movements can be dispensed with in order to produce specific travel effects.

FIG. 6 illustrates a carriage, which is secured to the guide 1 via fixing mechanisms 7 in the manner described in connection with FIGS. 3 and 4. The carriage has a passenger compartment 3, 8, which can be rotated relative to the bogie 2 about a pitch axis N only. A rotation of the passenger compartment 3 relative to the bogie 2 about a yaw axis does not take place in the embodiment illustrated here.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate the carriage from FIG. 6 in several positions as it travels along the guide 1. FIG. 7 illustrates a guide 1, which merges from a flat section into a downhill run, in particular a more or less vertical run, and then back into a flat section. During the movement from the top flat section to the bottom flat section, the orientation or angle which the passenger compartment 3 subtends relative to a standing surface or surrounding area of the amusement device is kept constant. As the carriage leaves the flat section and enters the steep section, the bogie 2 effects a pitching movement relative to the surrounding area, which is compensated by a pitching movement of the passenger compartment 3 by more or less 90° relative to the bogie 2 in the opposite direction about the pitch axis N. The amusement device, in particular the carriage, may be provided with a co-operating control or automatic control system for this purpose. It would also be conceivable for the centre of gravity of the passenger compartment 3 including the passenger to be such that the positions of the passenger compartment 3 relative to the bogie 2 illustrated in FIG. 7 are already assumed by the position of the centre of gravity of the passenger compartment 3 relative to the bogie 2. The invention is not restricted to a horizontal orientation of the passenger compartment 3, such as illustrated in FIG. 7, and instead passenger compartments oriented at any angle may be provided for the passenger compartment 3. Particularly preferred is the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 7, which creates the feeling of a free fall.

The guide illustrated in FIG. 8 follows a course of two half-loops. As it moves along the guide 1, the bogie 2 effects pitching movements relative to the area around the amusement device. In order to compensate for the pitching movements of the bogie 2, the passenger compartment 3 effects opposing pitching movements relative to the bogie 2 about the pitch axis 5. As a result, the angle or orientation of the passenger compartment 3 relative to the standing surface of the amusement device is kept constant, as described in connection with FIG. 7. As the carriage moves along the guide 1 illustrated in FIG. 8, the carriage is switched from a conventional into an inverted configuration and back into a conventional configuration. In this example, the passenger compartment 3 effects pitching movements of more or less 180° or even more relative to the bogie 2. In the inverted configuration, the passenger 4 is sitting opposite the direction of travel. It would also be conceivable to use a carriage of the type illustrated in FIG. 4, in which case the passenger 4 could be rotated by means of an additional rotation about the yaw axis G in the direction of travel.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMBERS

    • 1 Guide
    • 2 Bogie
    • 3 Passenger compartment
    • 4 Passenger
    • 5 Articulated joint for pitching movement
    • 6 Articulated joint for yawing movement
    • 7 Fixing mechanism
    • 8 Seat
    • 9 Passenger safety device
    • 10 Frame
    • R Roll axis
    • N Pitch axis
    • G Yaw axis





 
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