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[–]cybaritic 48 points49 points  (14 children)

I always liked the idea of having a spring-loaded arm or panel on the front of the train that could slap someone off the track at the last second. It would hurt like a motherfucker but you'd be alive at least. Combine with Tesla's accident sensing tech and you could make it fully automatic. Detect a person on the tracks, engage Slap-o-matic.

Would make for good videos too.

[–]genida 21 points22 points  (3 children)

slap someone off the track at the last second

My physics math is non-existant, but wouldn't a slap traveling at 100kmh still impact with the force of an object traveling at a 100kmh?

Similarly, the force required to make a body move out of the way of something traveling at that speed would... probably be enough to murder anything made ouf of flesh and bone?

I'm not saying that a hyper-advanced robot arm with enough reach wouldn't be able to snatch a person out of the way while simultenously compensating for the impact velocity. However, I would wager quite a bit that the cost of this equipment would outweigh the cost of simply building a tunnel or a bridge at every crossing. Specifically since it would have to be installed on every single locomotive, and that is a huge multiplier.

Instinctively, and I say this as a train driver, this sounds impossible and/or highly inefficient.

At lower speeds? Maybe, but at the speeds this would be viable I brake quickly enough to make it statistically insignificant.

[–]rush22 -3 points-2 points  (2 children)

If it swings out in a semi-circle in front of the train then, at maximum swing, the perpendicular speed which the arm was travelling in the arc could be as fast or slow as needed. It would rub across them at 100km/h but the slap itself would only need to be as strong as necessary to slap them out of the way.

[–]scottstedman 7 points8 points  (1 child)

I feel like you attempted to do some sort of basic mathematics to get this scenario to work in your head, and kudos for that, but there is no scenario in which a "spring-loaded slapper arm" isn't going to fuck someone's day up just as badly as, if not worse than, a freight train moving 60mph.

[–]rush22 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Pretty likely, but it could be calculated for real to figure out the optimum swinging speed and length. It might be completely impractical but it's possible it will work.

Imagine an arm that doesn't swing out, but just shoots out on one side of the tracks and then slowly pushes the person off the other side as the train barrels down on them. If it is long enough so that the train doesn't hit you by the time it clears you off the track, it wouldn't cause any injury at all.

So it potentially works, it just needs some actual math to see if it is practical.

[–]henry82 3 points4 points  (6 children)

IMO maybe a large "wedge" would be better??? Kind of like a snow plow, but much longer, and it pushes you away, but up, rather than just straight out.

[–]AlkalineLemon 13 points14 points  (5 children)

You mean a cow catcher? Don't think those actually do much besides keep the train from being damaged, but I'm not a train guy.


[–]zelseor 9 points10 points  (0 children)

ITT: we invented a cowcatcher again?

[–]henry82 4 points5 points  (3 children)

yes, but significantly longer. And has a thick layer of foam on top of the steel.

For example, look at the "limited" damage by the Mythbusters cow catcher.


yeah, its a steel car, but if it had hit it straight on, the energy has to be absorbed.


[–]GFandango 6 points7 points  (2 children)

I don't think any human is going to survive that impact

[–]BaconPit 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah, but you'll look prettier in your casket

[–]henry82 1 point2 points  (0 children)

At speed yeah, but if the train is emergency breaking already. Ultimately it would reduce the severity of the impact. In the same way Mercedes have that pedestrian protecton system.

[–]seanfitznz 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Can't imagine it would work because it would still hit them with an extreme amount of force. Had me thinking of this though... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmXYJOyAGc0