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Rubber evacuation shaft

To save Steve McQueen getting all indignant re skyscraper height/inflammability
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A number of people have suggested ideas for evacuating skyscrapers based on deploying parachutes, gliders, etc from the outside of the building. However this is undesirable for a number of reasons, since it involves an uncontrolled fall through what may be a narrow gap between buildings onto a crowded street below.

A better solution would be to construct, as permanent parts of a building, vertical shafts designed to allow people to exit in a swift, gravity-assisted way. Obviously jumping down a vertical shaft is not a good way to leave a building alive. But if we had some way to break the fall of a person as they descended they might be able to leave successfully.

A foam-filled shaft is one solution, but may cause suffocation. Far better to mount a series of rubber membranes up the shaft, each with one or more holes in it sized so that a person can fall through with difficulty when the membrane stretches.

To use this, you would jump in the top of the tube. You would land on a flexible rubber or plastic sheet, which would slow your fall and drop you through onto another sheet below. This would absorb more speed, and eventually you would reach the bottom at a sensible velocity, able to walk away.

The material would have to be strong enough to withstand the impacts of a building's worth of people, but with advanced polymer technology this should be possible. The only problem would be in fine-tuning the arrangement of rubber slower-downers to allow people to fall fast enough to evacuate the building, yet slow enough not to injure themselves.

I also see possibilities for a fairground ride, where the plastic/rubber sheets might be replaced with fake cobwebs.

pottedstu, Aug 05 2002

egnor's version http://www.halfbake...ea/emergency_20exit
...involved mechanical devices rather than rubber, but essentially the same concept. [DrCurry, Aug 05 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

(?) Evacuation chute http://www.lifechute.com/
sort of like this? [FarmerJohn, Aug 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Evacuation chute II http://www.viking-l...SBasic?opendocument
or more like this? [FarmerJohn]

Evacuation chute III http://www.ingstromescapechute.com.au/
how about this sock-type? [FarmerJohn, Aug 05 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Evacuation chute III http://www.ingstromescapechute.com.au/
how about this sock-type? [Laughs Last, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

(?) Escape chute http://lifechute.com/videos/1.mov
Video of elastic escape chute [omegatron, May 07 2006]

(?) Escape chute http://lifechute.com/videos/2.mov
Video 2 of real people using an escape chute [omegatron, May 07 2006]

(?) More videos http://www.safelinc...ee60f8907159da7eee7
With girls this time ;-) [omegatron, May 07 2006]


       We done this before. Same quibble: if people are going fast enough to evacuate the building, how do you get them off the landing pad at the bottom before the next one comes down?   

       (People fall faster than they walk.)
DrCurry, Aug 05 2002

       There's a type of curve - I forget what it's called, but it's the curve described by a point on the circumference of a circle which is rolling on a straight line - part of which is used in an amusement park 'ride'. It starts as a near-vertical drop then gradually becomes less vertical, thus decelerating the people who were silly enough to jump onto it. If this surface were curved (in plan) so as to distribute escapees radially, it might answer the issue raised by the member from NYC.
angel, Aug 05 2002

A curve generated by a point in the plane of a circle when the circle is rolled along a straight line, keeping always in the same plane.
The common cycloid is the curve described when the generating point (p) is on the circumference of the generating circle;
the curtate cycloid, when that point lies without the circumference;
the prolate or inflected cycloid, when the generating point (p) lies within that circumference
thumbwax, Aug 06 2002

       My questions: 1) So the disabled are left to fend for themselves? or do you pitch them down too? 2) How wide? It has to accomodate most, but then people would hurt themselves bumping into walls? And on nuts/bolts? I'd recommend that your magic mytsery foam be made to have a very small hole. This would provide friction on the way down. Thanks.
watermelancholy, Aug 06 2002


       1) Not to be crass but yes 'pitch' the disabled down the cutes as well. Wheelchairs probably don't fair well on stairs. Wchairs are replaceable their lives are not.   

       2) How does 4 feet sound as a nominal width. Unless you are a guest star on the "Jerry Springer Show", this size should suffice.   

       I'm not sure you properly envisioned the controlled falling depiction. How does 'bumping into walls' while falling occur?   

       The evacuation plan for the building would need to be properly sequenced. The following requirements should he followed:   

       1. each floor have and entrance to all of the chutes 2. entrance to a chute needs to be controlled to avoid stepping in with someone else 3. restrict to one person per floor "drip" 4. restrict upper floor evacuation to allow lower floors priority when they are on fire 5. allow verbal bypasses (intercom) for upper floors when state of lower floors is unknown 6. entrance request buttons to momentarily hold floor above   

       This idea sounds very plausible. The sequencing and physics needs to be worked out.
BetaZed, Sep 12 2002

       Baked by Gerard Zephinie in the 1960's, using multiple layers of fabric. Control of rate of decent is achieved by stretching fabric wider, but not longer. Tested to accomidate 30 people egressing per minute.
Laughs Last, Sep 27 2003

       AESOP (patented): the Intelligent Evacuation Chute   

       see www.skyscrapersafety.com - none of the existing 'solutions' have sensors to detect damage or coordinate high volume evacuations. AESOP can.   

       Watch for it sometime in September '04 in New York.
rexsolomon, May 11 2004

       First I imagined a shaft with a giant fan that blows air up it to slow down people as they fall, but that's not very feasible, requires an active energy source, etc. I came here to post it and saw egnor's collapsible platforms, which is a better idea, and then thought of rubber "ribs" instead, kind of like this.   

       In my imagined version, there would be a single, human-sized rigid tube, and it would have these rubber membranes with a single hole in the middle, and people would slide down through the holes. Somehow it would have to have openings for multiple people to slide down at once (a larger funnel-like entrance for each floor?). At the bottom, the tube would turn slowly into a slide, and then fan out into a cushiony receiving area, where people could avoid collisions with each other and collect themselves to start running away.   

       This system wouldn't be good in the case that the tube gets cut or blocked off, as people wouldn't be able to see ahead of them or stop themselves very well. A stream of people pouring out of a hole in a building or getting jammed up and crushing each other would be worse than burning or jumping out.   

       I see there are similar systems that work more like a giant esophagus, and you stretch them out or "climb" down with hands.   

       //Watch for it sometime in September '04 in New York.//   

       What are we watching for again? Oh, your dead website? Gotcha.
omegatron, May 07 2006


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