Fri. Jun 8, 2001

XCam2 Amazing Wireless Video Camera for under $80 Special Limited Time Offer!


Geeks have weekends too, and nothing says "weekend" to a geek like a propeller beanie and a pogo stick. But for the summa cum geek of the near future may leap forward to a stitched-on mesicopter and Carnegie Mellon University’s BOWGO stick. Who knows, humans might one day give the robotic frogs for Mars a hop for their money.

The BOWGO is a 45-inch, 9-pound (114-centimeter, 4 kilogram) pogo stick souped-up with knowledge gained from robotic leg research to bounce higher, farther and more efficiently than conventional devices. The key component is a fiber-reinforced epoxy composite strip that bows out and snaps back to hurl a user up to 2 feet (0.6 meter) off the ground. Compared with coiled steel springs, the bowed composite stores as much as five times more energy per unit mass. That’s 600 pounds (272 kilograms) of spring force on 6,000 pounds (2,721 kilograms) of energy storage, enough to lift a 150-pound (68-kilogram) rider 42 inches (107 centimeters ) off the ground. Typically, riders can expect bounces of up to 20 inches (50 centimeters ) with no effort, still head and shoulders over the maximum 6 inches (15 centimeters ) of lift delivered by most pogo sticks, the design team notes. BOWGO users have traversed impressive swaths of ground laterally too, hopping across 40 feet (12 meters) in seven strides (about 6 feet per stride), and expect to improve on that with practice. Don’t worry about blowing your knees – the fully extended strip minimizes shock when you reach the ground, according to Carnegie Mellon.

The design is also free of the sliding friction that hinders long coils when they buckle sideways. Another added efficiency developed by the BOWGO team is to use rollers to guide the aluminum plunger in its 15-inch (38 centimeters ) slide to provide much smoother motion. The BOWGO thick rubber foot treats your lawn gently, and that’s really where you should be using it, the toy’s creators advise. Hard surfaces are a no-no when you’re spending uninterrupted hours springing around like a giddy crash-test bunny. Assuming you’ve heeded that wisdom and thus picked up just a few bruises and no bone breaks, you might come out looking more buff than your average geek, Carnegie Mellon suggests. All of that holding, flexing, bending and springing is good exercise, the design teams attests. But the esteemed university stretches a bit further, citing research that indicates "repeated, sustained periods of acceleration and free-fall provide general strengthening of the body tissues." According to whom? The American Institute of Reboundology, of course. Who else?

Once Carnegie Mellon gets related patents squared away, the university’s Toy Robots Initiative (a division of the Robotics Institute) plans to roll out a commercial version tailored to a wide range of riders’ sizes and weights.

-- Erik Baard, Technology Correspondent

Know something cool that should be included in this section? E-mail us.

< Back   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20  | Next Item >

Coming Tuesday - Exploring the History of the Universe with!

about us | sitemap | space links | contact us | advertise

You can read our privacy statement and terms of service