It looks terrifying, but it could be the future of the roller coaster. Imagine if instead of sitting in a coaster’s car, you and a fellow passenger are strapped into a harness on the end of a giant robotic arm. The arm is bolted to the car, so that as the roller coaster speeds over hills and through turns, it whips you from side to
side and upside down. Streaming video and sound complete the interactive assault on your senses, leaving your inner thrill-seeker begging for more.
It’s called the Robocoaster G3, and it should be available by next year to theme parks for about $30 million to $40 million. The unique concept is the result of an innovative fouryear partnership between B.C.’s Dynamic Structures Ltd. and Germany’s KUKA Roboter GmbH, which together have almost 200 years of experience with complex structures, mechanics and robotics.
But will the theme parks buy it? For starters, the coasters cost about twice what a traditional roller coaster would cost, and there are still safety concerns over such a complex design. Plus, the roller coaster market is already dominated by established manufacturers, such as Switzerland’s Bolliger & Mabillard, and Utah’s S&S Power.
Its backers say the ride will find buyers because its reprogrammability offers a costeffective way to keep theme park customers coming back. “One summer you’re swinging through the jungle with Indiana Jones, the next you’re zipping through Manhattan with Spider-Man,” says John Kageorge of AMEC, a partner in the project’s development.
David Halliday, vice-president of Dynamic Structures, says he expects a profit of several million dollars in the first year of production, thanks to two major contracts with North American theme parks, plus he has deals to expand internationally.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, just pray that one of those contracts is with a theme park near you.
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