#1397: SootNote

I’m sick of having to breathe the exhaust fumes from cars. Carbon dioxide is bad enough but particulates must surely be doing everyone immediate harm.

Today’s invention is an attempt to bring home to people the consequences of driving dirty vehicles.

It consists of a short, porous paper tube (made of eg coffee filter material) which can be placed over the end of a smoky exhaust pipe, without damaging the engine. The closed end of the tube can accommodate a cardboard disc. This disc can be pre-perforated by eg a knitting needle.

When this paper is eventually discovered by the driver of an offending vehicle, a message is highlighted on it by the preferential passage of soot through the piercings -just like the action of a can of spray paint used with a template.

This might say ‘Time for a service?’, ‘This is what you’re doing to my lungs’ or something more direct. I’d be particularly keen on attaching this to taxis which keep their engines running all day.

#1394: SoilShield

Today’s invention is a way to provide even softskinned military vehicles with added protection from eg roadside bombs.

Each vehicle would carry several lightweight cages, one for each face. These would be attached to the vehicle via strong frames which would allow the cages to be angled downwards so they each act like the bucket of a bulldozer and are easily filled with earth/rocks by driving the vehicle for a short distance.

Once the vehicle has been driven fast or airlifted to a position of conflict, the cages would be filled rapidly, providing it effectively with several blastwalls behind which its crew could shelter.

On reaching a safer area, or when before making a quick getaway, the cages could be opened and their contents jettisoned in seconds.

#1386: 7LeagueLegs

Today’s invention is a novel way to enjoy exercise. It consists of a small trampoline on wheels.

When someone bounces on the trampoline, sensors in the springs around the base pass data to an onboard computer which calculates accurately the direction and in-flight time of the user.

These data allow the trampoline’s wheels to be driven along the ground to catch the user when next he/she descends.

With practice, someone could thus learn to make long-distance bounds, eg along a road or track, whilst the trampoline automatically repositions itself to support the next, enormous step.

#1384: Flightframe

Helicopters obviously have limited load-lifting capability.

Today’s invention is a frame (red) to which individual helicopters can be bolted in order to allow truly massive weights to be transported easily, with the load shared between n rotary-wing aircraft.

Given that no pilot is keen to have their craft attached to others, the frame would also contain circuitry which allows n-1 uncrewed machines to be controlled in synchrony from a master helicopter.

#1382: Supermarine

Today’s invention is an alternative to the usual submarine’s conning tower -an underwater crow’s nest.

To reduce drag and provide a higher observation platform, a minisub is located on a pair of streamlined arms as shown. The minisub has an airlock connection to the rear of the hull so that crew can enter and leave freely when in transit.

The minisub could detach from the hull, using the arms, and rise close to or high above the surface.

It might even be possible to have this vehicle detach completely and act as a lifeboat in an emergency.

#1379: Lavenue

Driving to the car wash is a waste of time and effort.

Today’s invention is a mobile carwash that comes to your car. A small vehicle drives down the pavement and extends its brushed arms around your car as shown.

The operator would decide how dirty each car was and use only enough water and detergent to deal with the job in hand.

In this way, an entire street of parked cars could be washed very economically, whilst their owners were elsewhere.

#1376: Courteseats

Getting into and out of vehicles, especially those with low, sporty profiles can be difficult.

Today’s invention is seats which detect if anyone is sitting on them and which can be driven forwards or backwards, when the vehicle is stationary.

When a front door is opened, and that seat and the one behind are empty, it will slide back to allow easier access.

Similarly when a back door is opened, if the seats on that side are unoccupied, the front one will slide forwards.

#1375: MudSpoilers

Mudflaps. They are primitive, ugly and highly non-aerodynamic.

Today’s invention is mudflaps which withdraw into the vehicle body, scraping themselves clean as they do so and sealing flush with the bodyshell.

This allows for the best possible combination of protection against flying dirt (for surrounding vehicles as well), aerodynamics and aesthetics.

#1365: Lesstanding

Railways again. This time I’m interested in improving the use of space in carriages and the process of moving people about.

Passengers currently have to jostle to board through one of many side doors (after wondering where exactly those doors will end up). Instead, today’s invention is a train in which only the front and rear coaches open their doors when it halts (with door locations marked on the platform).

This allows people to leave, two by two, via one and enter via the other. The space around all the other (closed) doors would be filled with (~8*3) extra seats for the poor paying passengers to actually sit down on.

I’m sure the (parallel) boarding/ unboarding time would not be increased, since everyone would know which direction to move in, causing minimal turbulence.

In an emergency, even the closed doors would be flung open and people could climb out over the seats.

(The extra seats could be relocatable, in case a carriage was required to be used in front or rear position. Bicycles? Rent them at the station).

#1364: Railbroad

Never mind Chinese superbuses, today’s invention is a way to make more effective use of the rail networks.

A double-width train (black outline) could be built to run astride two adjacent railtracks (most tracks are laid in pairs; an up line and a down line). This would necessitate that all oncoming traffic be halted for a while of course but would allow very heavy loads to be transported (and with the extra width, potentially also at higher speeds).

Intermediate sized trains (blue) straddling three rails might also be used, as well as a small central design (red) which could be passed over by a black design running on the two outermost rails only.