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Train Crane

To prevent collisons with vehicles at crossings
 
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A large electromagnet identical to the ones used at junkyards would be mounted on a large scaffold over train crossings. An approaching train would activate the sensors and cameras. If the sensors detect a vehicle on the tracks, the electromagnet drops down, clamps onto the vehicle, lifts it clear of the train, and holds it there until police arrive to review the security camera footage and determine if the driver was at fault and deal with the situation accordingly.

If the driver happened to have a pacemaker and did not survive the electromagnetism, then he/she is still better off because he/she would have died *anyway* and now the body is still intact for a respectful burial, *and* the train is spared any damage.

Edit: claws around the perimeter of the electromagnet would allow it to grasp any vehicles that the magnet cannot. The claw would only activate if the magnet failed, in an effort to reduce damage to the vehicle.

21 Quest, Apr 24 2009

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       Isn't it much more common for *moving* vehicles to be struck at railways crossings (especially crossings without boom gates)? I think adequate boom gates at every crossing would be a better solution.
xaviergisz, Apr 24 2009
  

       It is also common for vehicles to become trapped between those barricades, or to be trapped between vehicles at stoplights and unable to move once they realize their error.
21 Quest, Apr 24 2009
  

       Would select against drivers of carbon-fiber and aluminium cars (and possibly against the Back-to-the-future car DeLorean - is it magnetic stainless steel?) - I am not sure whether that is a plus or not.
loonquawl, Apr 24 2009
  

       Even vehicles with carbon fiber body panels usually have quite a bit of steel in the engine compartment and chassis. If not, I suppose the magnet could have claws around the edges to grasp anything the magnet cannot.
21 Quest, Apr 24 2009
  

       I was hoping this was a wading bird on tracks ...
Aristotle, Apr 24 2009
  

       Or perhaps an alectorine domestication scheme.
coprocephalous, Apr 24 2009
  

       Maybe this is answer to the problems inherent with the claws and electromagnet. Prehaps a giant, robot wading bird with a long beak could nudge, pluck or swallow obstructions on an railway line level-crossing.
  

       It could also scold people in a booming voice if they try to rush over a crossing when a train is due.
Aristotle, Apr 24 2009
  
      
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