Saturday, May 7, 2011

Using The Prius' Regenerative Brakes To Power A Roller Coaster

Notcot has this neat story about how some engineers are prototyping the idea of taking the regenerative braking system of the Toyota Prius, which effectively turns the "friction" into usable energy, rather than wasted energy, and using it in other contexts, such as to power a roller coaster. The general concept came from a program Toyota put together called "Ideas for Good," and one part of that included a commercial, where someone made the suggestion to power an amusement park with such a system. You can see that commercial here:
That resulted in Toyota teaming up with Deeplocal to build a prototype system of a Prius coaster car that captures energy via the braking system. You can see the short video that shows the results (and some of the process) below:
And back at the Notcot post there are a bunch of photos of the project as well. Here's just one to whet your appetite:
To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the results. I recognize this is more proof of concept, but I'd really like to see something like this done on a bigger scale. It did feel like a bit of a letdown to just see a little slope and roll, rather than anything resembling a real rollercoaster. Perhaps we'll be able to do a followup post before too long with a bigger and better example...

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