Nothing symbolizes the thrill of the amusement park like a roller coaster with its twists and turns and gravity defying loops. The roller coaster is one of the most popular rides for adults and children and has always been the ultimate attraction at an theme park or fair.
The invention of the roller coaster can be traced back to the Russian ice slides which involved large platforms made of wood which held up thick sheets of sloping ice. People would climb up to the top of the platforms and slide down the ice slide in carts and sleighs. The rides slowly grew in length and height as more turns and curves were added to them. The roller coaster cars also great improvements where wheels were introduced to them and rails were added to the slopes.
Today, roller coasters have come a long way from the wooden ice slides that they once were. Roller coasters are now considered to be the ultimate scream machines and boast intricate loops and drops that are almost as tall as skyscrapers. Some of the world’s best roller coasters include the Bizarro in New England, the Top Thrill Dragster in New Jersey and the Silver Star in Germany.
However, this invention of the roller coaster has not yet reached its zenith as inventors and game ride engineers are not thinking of new ways to improve these speed monsters to make them faster, taller and safer.
Many of the older and traditionally designed roller coasters use chains to propel the carts up and down the rides. The chains are gradually tightened and pull the coaster up the slope, after which the cart is released and its wheels are left to travel on the ride’s rails. The acceleration and thrill of the downward drop is created automatically by gravity.
The use of cables instead of the traditional chain has resulted in a faster and smoother roller coaster ride. Many of the world’s most famous roller coasters use cables to carry cars and coaches. Here passengers are launched uphill on the cables and travel faster with velocity and gravity working together with the smooth and strong metal cables. Such coasters are called launch coasters and are capable of moving passengers from 0 to almost 200 kilometres per hour in 4 seconds. The coasters are also capable of taking cars over a 130 meter curve.
Roller coasters are also expected to be much safer for passengers in the future with the use of technology. Currently it is the cable and chain roller coasters that dominate most amusement parks and it is only the more modern parks that have put up hi-tech coasters. These hi-tech coasters use thousands of sensors that evaluate air pressure, weight and weather conditions before launching the carts.
However, cable and chains are only small steps in the development for roller coasters, which have now grown in size and height along with technology. The future roller coasters are expected to use electromagnetic power to have death defying drops with sophisticated coaches that travel at extreme speeds. Electromagnets are used as launch mechanisms and create magnetic waves that push the roller coasters cars down the track.
These futuristic coasters will be able to incorporate giant loops and inversions that human beings are able to survive only because of the carefully calculated designs. Roller coaster designers use special programs and computer-aided design platforms that are capable of estimating just how high a hill or drop can be before it becomes life threatening. This is because the human body is not capable of withstanding speed and g-forces beyond a certain limit, after which it will stop blood flow. As a result, roller coaster engineers use specific geometry programs to establish safe and exciting tracks that allow for speed but minimize g-force.
These coasters use electromagnetic power to hold the cars to the rails and sophisticated computer technology and linear-induction motors to direct the coasters. Such roller coasters are expected to require less maintenance and man-power and be run entirely on computers. Future roller coasters may be outfitted with sensors and automatic detectors that will evaluate the launch conditions – a process that may soon become as detailed and as sophisticated as a rocket launch!
Our future roller coasters will have both single cars and group cars and feature multiple inversion loops, drops and climbs with many curves interloping with each other. They will feature complicated designs that will create both fear and excitement in the hearts of all that see these rides and will yet have lines of people waiting for their turn. Some of the world’s most advanced roller coasters are the Universal Orlando’s Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit and the Kingda Ka.