When we find ourselves in the autonomous car-filled future, there will be many near misses.
Since these vehicles are likely to be battery powered, today’s invention is a way to make use of the massive torque available (beyond the potential for drag racing between the lights).
When a car senses that a collision is imminent, and steering out of trouble is not possible, then the vehicle can apply a sudden torque to the rear wheels and make the whole thing rear up out of the way -like a startled horse.
A flat back face allows the vehicle to park in that position until it can be safely rocked back onto its wheels.
It’s annoying enough that roads are sprayed with salt every winter. All the more irritating when the gritting vehicles throw handfuls of corrosive sharp stuff straight at oncoming vehicles.
Today’s invention is therefore a good application for autonomous vehicles.
A salt sprayer truck (blue) drives along and sprays only directly underneath itself. No more having my paint shot peened as I drive behind or towards the gritter.
Since it makes sense to salt both carriageways at the same time, the gritter truck would detect oncoming vehicles and only spray within the pink oval when no other cars were within it.
The sprayer truck would need to slow and speed up to ensure road coverage, whilst also avoiding oncoming cars, but since it would be robotic, this could be achieved with great precision and a high average speed.
It takes a lot of gunpowder to lift a firework into the sky, before the show can even begin.
Today’s invention offers a better form of firework display.
Launching fireworks from a tethered hot air balloon avoids wasting all that propellant just on gaining height…so the spectacle can be better for a given amount of powder.
It might also be seen as safer, given that nobody is lighting explosives beside members of a crowd of spectators.
I’ve been reading about how, in future, airliners will be filled with a flexible combination of interior modules. It set me thinking about how that approach might affect the super rich.
Today’s invention is a passenger module which slots into a limousine. This would be the size of a double bed plus seating area for two people. The same acreage as a first class plane cabin occupies.
The module would be armoured and have its own air supply and communications technologies.
Its main feature, however, is that it can be extracted from the limo, using a small forklift carried in the boot, and inserted into eg an aircraft or a train or a luxury liner.
This would allow the occupants to board their next mode of transport entirely without having to face the press or transport security (having already been screened before departure).
When the module was installed within say a ship, its doors could be opened into a suite or a private sitting room.
Today’s invention is an ultra low-altitude parachute mechanism, based on one of those circular, expanding reflectors that photographers use.
This could be used by base jumpers (or Mars missions), but more usefully by people trapped in a medium-rise, burning building.
One problem with low-opening chutes is that, if the shock of sudden inflation is too great, it can cause the jumper some injury. That problem can be mitigated using a form of slider.
If the opening is too slow, however, then all this becomes irrelevant.
To get a chute to open very wide and very fast requires that each chute will have a loop of springy glass fibre sewn into the edge.
When someone grabs their emergency chute off a rack, they run and plunge out a window. A static line releases the coiled loop (shown on the left) and the chute is suddenly forced to take up its natural, circular shape (on the right).
Today’s invention is a new use for the GoPro waterproof housing.
Simply fill this with water and insert a small fish or some ‘sea monkeys’ before clipping it closed in the usual way.
This micro-aquarium can be attached to the dash of your car in the same way as some people use fluffy dice, nodding dogs or a small flower vase. You could even attach it to your motorcycle helmet -as a conversation piece at roadside cafes.
(Obviously you should release any small wildlife as quickly as possible after your journey).
Nobody likes having their car dinged by careless parkers who fling open their doors.
Today’s invention offers a shield for car sides, without destroying the look of your vehicle.
A housing in the front wheel arch holds a reel of protective material in the colour of the car.
When parking, the driver pulls one end of this reel clear of the body work and walks to the back wheel arch, where a soft plastic hook attaches it to the rear wheel arch.
This impact-absorbing ribbon is wide enough to stop most careless door openers from causing damage.
It also avoids drawing too much attention to the car and could, if strengthened and locked in place, make it harder to break into the vehicle.
Motorcycle chains are a pain to maintain.
Today’s invention offers a way to keep one’s chain cleaner.
It consists of two cylindrical brushes on two control arms.
The weight of the brushes keeps them in contact with the chain’s top and bottom surfaces -for at least some of the time.
As the brushes rotate against the chain, they wear down, but still stay in contact with the chain (until they are replaced).
The control arms could also have brush material fitted on their inside surfaces to help clean the chain sides.
It’s not unknown for aircraft to have their nosewheels fail to deploy when making an approach to land.
Today’s invention is a small rotor blade which can be made to emerge from the roof of a plane under these circumstances.
It would need to be powerful enough to just lessen the impact of the nose on the tarmac -setting the front down gently enough to avoid damaging the plane and the passengers.
There are lots of places over which pilots really shouldn’t be flying at low altitude, because their inhabitants are noise sensitive.
These include: physics labs, animal breeding centres, hospitals, old people’s homes, recording and tv studios…
Today’s invention is a simple bright light, flashing upwards in a specially designated colour.
This would be attached to a high point on the roof of a noise sensitive building to help ensure that no aircraft would come near.