Learning to ride a unicycle involves quite a bit of falling off.
This can be quite surprisingly painful ...
However, with the new BorgCo unicycle training system, grazed knees and bruised elbows are a thing of the past.
The system consists of three high-speed power winches, which can be mounted
indoors (in a sports centre, perhaps) or outdoors (on specially constructed posts or towers.
The three winches form an equilateral triangle, and the cables join at a single point where a special connection fixture is attached. Descending from the fixture is a length of webbing, with a carabiner on the end. Also on the fixture is a ring of infrared transponders, pointing downwards; above, a multifaceted laser reflector.
The position of the fixture in x,y and z planes is constantly determined by pulsed scanning lasers fixed above the winch positions. This means the fixture can be triangulated with extreme accuracy.
The user wears a helmet with IR reflectors on the upper surface. This means the fixture can constantly and accurately determine the position of the user with respect to the fixture.
In operation, the user dons the helmet and a fall-arrest webbing harness. Pressing a button on the remote control causes the carabiner to be lowered so that it can be hooked onto the harness loop.
The would-be rider then pushes the "activate" button. The winches retract so as to remove all slack from the webbing, but not to place any tension on it.
The rider mounts the unicycle; their change of position is immediately detected, and the winches reel in further, keeping the webbing at the right length.
As the rider moves around, the winches reel in or out as required, always keeping the slack out of the link webbing, but never applying tension, the fixture always being positioned directly above the suspension point of the harness by coordinating the data from the lasers on the winches and the IR scanners aimed at the rider's hat, and possibly shoulder pads.
The rider is in fact unaware that the system is operating ... until they fall off.
At this point, the system is triggered by their sudden acceleration, and reels out - but slowly. The support strap goes taut, supporting the rider, but does not "snatch".
The unicycle crashes to the ground, and a few seconds later the rider is gently lowered onto their feet nearby, ready for another go.