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Transportation Technology

Ski Lifts Can Could Help Get Cargo Traffic Off the Road 225

Posted by timothy
from the you-either-like-this-or-have-no-soul dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this except from a beautifully illustrated, thought-provoking article: "These days, we use them almost exclusively to transport skiers and snowboarders up snow slopes, but before the 1940s, aerial ropeways were a common means of cargo transport, not only in mountainous regions but also on flat terrain. An electrically powered aerial ropeway is one of the cheapest and most efficient means of transportation available. Some generate excess energy that can be used to power nearby factories or data centers. An innovative system called RopeCon (not to be confused with a role-playing convention held annually in Finland) can move up to 10,000 tonnes of freight per hour."
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Ski Lifts Can Could Help Get Cargo Traffic Off the Road

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:13AM (#35054092)

    Ski lifts, however, are of no utility when conducting a simple once-over of one's grammar.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    what advantage does this technology hold over trains?

    • by IorDMUX (870522) <mark@zimmerman3.gmail@com> on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:24AM (#35054128) Homepage

      what advantage does this technology hold over trains?

      Simple, with a ski lift, you don't have to haul the engine everywhere you go. While a railroad involves massive engines which travel back and forth with each route, the motive force in a ropeway is provided by fixed elements and used to pull the cable around a cycle.

      • Plus, a train requires relatively flat terrain. This requires some significant terrain altering (embankment, tunneling, buildup, etc) around some places.
      • Simple, with a ski lift, you don't have to haul the engine everywhere you go. While a railroad involves massive engines which travel back and forth with each route, the motive force in a ropeway is provided by fixed elements and used to pull the cable around a cycle.

        And a drawback is that you take the friction loss everywhere the wire rope travels. In a train you only need one bearing per wheel. Here you need one bearing per every unit length of wire. You can either move the engine on a rail, or move the the whole rail with a fixed engine.

        That's not to say that this couldn't work, only that you make different trade-offs. TANSTAAFL.

        • by tbuskey (135499)

          The rope is the rail. The only place you need bearings are the ski towers. Look at a ski lift.

          Heck, look at every ski area with a lodge at the top or even an EMT shack. They use the lift to get supplies up.
          Of course it works. It's in use at every ski area in the world. A purpose built system would be more efficient.

          • Right, but he's saying as you travel longer distances you have to add more towers which require more bearings which means more friction. Also a longer rope which means more weight to pull as well. Once you've got a train you can travel any distance you like without adding more bearings, friction or weight.
      • How long can this ropeway be if you are pulling the entire length of the cable around. Ski lift is one thing but they are talking about transporting goods between cities. I thought the idea is that each little cart has its own motor and the cable is fixed but I guess I might be wrong. If you are pulling the entire miles long cable around at some point presumably that outweighs the advantage of not having to take the engine with you, which is only a small percentage of the train weight. Also, this seems like

        • If you are pulling the entire miles long cable around

          There are different designs - some have a fixed rope, some have a single moving loop, some have a fixed rope and a moving rope, some have multiple loops connected in series. All this is described in the first couple paragraphs of the Friendly Article.

          prone to outages due to weather

          Actually, it seems like this would be more tolerant of bad weather. It shouldn't be affected at all by snow or flooding, for example.

      • by dachshund (300733)

        Simple, with a ski lift, you don't have to haul the engine everywhere you go. While a railroad involves massive engines which travel back and forth with each route, the motive force in a ropeway is provided by fixed elements and used to pull the cable around a cycle.

        Technically with an electrified train you're not really dragging an "engine" around, but rather a set of motors. I'm using the technical term rather than the railway definition, of course. But there is a practical difference in terms of the wei

      • by jrumney (197329)
        Which is easier, hauling your engine or hauling the rails?
      • There is a company that mines sand just north of my town. In the past there was a railroad that went through town to transport this sand to a city about 60 miles south of my town. For some reason they stopped the mining of the sand for a number of years. During those years the railroad was abandoned and torn up. A few years ago they again started the mining of the sand and the only way they can now transport the sand is to use trucks. A lot of trucks which now have to use the few roads we have to trans
    • by TamCaP (900777) on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:40AM (#35054194)
      I think it's more of a metropolitan range mid-distance transport. It might be the new pneumatic tubes - if you need to move goods from one of your warehouses to the other, you simply move it to the Rope transport. Something like public transport for cargo. Will it work... time will tell.
      In my humble opinion however, despite the relative ingenuity of the idea it involves a bit too much complication, and this will be a big barrier for adoption. Plus, someone show me the detailed ROI figures too...
      • by cgenman (325138)

        People already use overhead wires to move goods from parts of large warehouses to other parts. It's really just a question of how far can you go before the system becomes inefficient.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:53AM (#35054244)

      You don't have to displace a ton of land with an overhead system, a ski-lift kind of thing would involve far less massive support pillars and also a less noise for the surrounding area (although more of a constant noise than a train would have).

      • by pspahn (1175617)

        Until the haul rope snaps and anyone underneath it gets sliced in half.

        • Wire based systems have better histories of safety than trains do. Of all the ski resorts all around the world how many times have you heard of cables snapping? It's really easy to maintain and inspect and even replace cables. Train derailments while not exactly common, are more frequent than cable issues.

          Meanwhile with a train, you have to maintain the train but also the tracks, which are in a fixed location that you have to walk the whole length of to really inspect.

          And if a train comes down from a hei

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      what advantage does this technology hold over trains?

      Is recently [faqs.org] patented [faqs.org]?

    • by Terje Mathisen (128806) on Monday January 31, 2011 @05:09AM (#35054494)

      I grew up in Porsgrunn, Norway, a city which had two such cable transport systems:

      Both of them were used to transport limestone, the largest one moved the output north from the Kjørholt mines to the Hydro fertilizer factory on Herøya. It passed over several ravines and steep cliff faces and ran for decades with very little maintenance, although the amount of limestone rock underneath it, as well as the occasional lost carrier wagon laying on the ground showed that it would probably not be safe to climb up and hitch a ride in one of the (empty) returning wagons.

      (I do remember being very tempted though, despite the warning signs and barbed wire wrapped around the supporting pylons!)

      On this sat image [google.com] you can easily see the remains of the system, in the form of the totally straight road "Gravavegen" and the four concrete supports which held a pylon where the system crossed the small bay "Versvika".

      The other cable system ran more or less in parallel with the first, starting from an open quarry about 5 km east of the fertilizer factory and going south to the Norcem cement factory which also needed limestone as a raw material.

      This one is much harder to locate on sat images, the most obvious sign is this wide stripe in the forest:

      Norcem [google.com]

      Terje

      • by sznupi (719324)
        I was somewhat expecting more "many advantages over trains!" in your post...

        Seems to have one major disadvantage though - such system seems relatively ill-suited to transport of people (yes, safety can be improved of course; worse with speed or "everything in line & linked" issues), when compared to, quite universal, roads or railways.
    • by will_die (586523)
      Use to have this near the place I lived. It was used to move rock from the quarry to the processing center, cement plant IIRC.
      Benefit was no trucks on the road, the buckets went over houses and land as needed and they were fairly quiet. Since it was just rock and dirt they could go at a slow speed which provides sound reduction.
    • by giorgist (1208992)
      From the fine article

      "One calculation showed that a ropeway only 1 mile (1,630 metres) long with a difference in altitude of 0.4 miles (645 meters), would require a railway of 15 miles (24 km) to reach the same point. "

      In other words you need to cut up a mountain and rise at a shallow angle that wont spill your tea in a train. In a ropeway you simply put up towers with a tiny footprint and on the way down you produce energy !!!
    • by h00manist (800926)

      what advantage does this technology hold over trains?

      Just traveled on this one [bondinho.com.br] last week in Rio. Pretty amazing. Advantages and disadvantages over trains though. Can travel over irregular terrain, water, up/down mountains, no rails/roadways to build, so no interference on the ground is needed, no wheels, suspension, power train to carry, quite efficient. Electric power only to the stations. So for short distances and moderate cargo it's great, like moving people and light cargo between buildings all over a business area perhaps. For cargo perhaps pneumati [wikipedia.org]

    • by hellop2 (1271166)
      They used to use this in Hawaii for transferring sugar from a coastal mill to the boats along the north-eastern coast of Hawaii where there are no harbors. They would carry a rope out to the boat on a little skiff and then set up the aerial lift.
    • (a) less expensive to build than roads or rail
      (b) can be built where roads or rail are problematic (steep vertical ascents/descents)
      (c) can be partially (or entirely) powered by gravity
      (d) can be operated during heavy snows and floods

      Trains probably have an advantage over a long distance, especially over flat terrain. I would think that trains would also have a speed advantage and be somewhat more flexible.

      • (a) less expensive to build than roads or rail

        Since you'd probably have to build roads along its path to build it, this is less likely than you might think.

        (b) can be built where roads or rail are problematic (steep vertical ascents/descents)

        Quite possibly. There are fewer places like that near major poulation/industrial centers than you might think.

        (c) can be partially (or entirely) powered by gravity

        You're drifting into perpetual motion machine here. Gravity can only provide energy for such a device i

    • by vlm (69642)

      what advantage does this technology hold over trains?

      Tend to run people over somewhat less often, although partially canceled out by stuff falling on the people below.

      In the frozen north, don't have to worry about plowing the rails, ice buildup making stopping difficult.

      Derailments, although probably more catastrophic, would be pretty rare due to avalanches, flood washouts, earthquakes. You can hang the fiber optic cables above the derailments rather than below, so less outages.

      In theory they could be nearly silent. In practice the tower bearings will be un

    • by cgenman (325138)

      You could blanket the top of New York City with goods moving through the sky VIA wire a lot more cheaply than you could build more roads or rails.

      • You could blanket the top of New York City with goods moving through the sky VIA wire a lot more cheaply than you could build more roads or rails.

        Well, at least until one or two of those shipments of goods fell. Then I am pretty sure that your legal costs would easily eat up all of those cost savings.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:26AM (#35054144)

    There used to be an aerial tramway for moving mining ore in Zeehan in Tasmania. It was the neatest thing I have ever seen. Never did figure why they stopped using it. High maintenance costs maybe. Locally we have some big mining conveyors of 40km+ (Google Maps - Del park, Western Australia). The RopeCon system seems a great combo of these that has potentially less impact than building a road. V Interesting.

    • That one (Hercules mine) was easier though because the ore travelled down the mountain, tipped at the bottom, and the empty buckets came back up. I expect it was largely gravity driven. Still cool though.

      I always felt uneasy driving under it, despite the mesh and the fact it wasn't working.

    • There's still one in NYC for getting tourists to Roosevelt Island. But most of the residents use the subway stop: aerial tramways aren't fast, and that particular one isn't very convenient, either.

      They're great if you want to steampunkify a skyline for your adventure movie. Not so great for actually moving goods and people.

    • by mangu (126918)

      When I was a kid I lived for some years in Manizales, Colombia, where there was a tramway, mentioned in TFA, of 72km length. It passed very near where I lived, actually it went right over the end of our backyard.

      I think maintenance costs have something to do why they stopped using it. Those cables had to be replaced from time to time, a very labor intensive task.

      Also, when it failed, the whole system stopped working, different from a truck breaking down or a road needing maintenance. Unless it's a very big

  • So it can move 10000 tonnes of freight per hour, but how far? What's the market? I can't see these competing with interstate bulk transport.
    • by ctid (449118)

      You could read the article, where your questions are answered. These systems don't seem to be aimed at competing with interstate - in one case a maximum length of 10km is mentioned.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:47AM (#35054218) Homepage

    This does not only concern energy use: contrary to a road or a railroad track, a cargo ropeway can be built straight through nature without harming animal and plant life (or, potentially, straight through a city without harming human life).

    Then scroll down to the big ugly modern cargo ropeways/conveyor belts in the bottom of the article and you can see they're ugly as fuck and can be seen for many miles around. Compared to that a road or railroad is almost invisible. They also generously ignore that we've gotten a lot better at building bridges and tunnels than before, not worse.

    I suppose it makes sense if you have a huge, stable amount of materials moving point-to-point, but for the most part such a cargoway will only add another exchange point where goods must be unloaded and reloaded which costs time and money. Also there's very little flexibility, with trucks or trains you can run more or less and even sell parts of it if things are slow. With this you have almost only fixed costs and if you hit the capacity limit it's a very hard limit.

    This reminds me a little of the people that try to revive the zeppelins, it's only going to work in some really niche cases and those places usually already have one.

    • And the problem (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday January 31, 2011 @04:49AM (#35054434)

      Is that if you have a stable, point-to-point thing then, well, you want a train. Trains work great for moving cargo. They are extremely efficient, using 1% or less of the energy a truck would need to move it. America still moves many, many tons of cargo daily by train. If you've ever visited a city with a major railway going through it you see trains multiple times an hour, 24 hours a day. They also move pretty quick. While heavy cargo trains can't zip like light rail passenger trains, they can still do 70ish MPH without a problem.

      The only reason they aren't used in place of trucks for cargo completely is their inflexibility. They are largely point-to-point transit. You can't have crisscrossing rails and lots of intersections for them to turn on and choose where they want to go.

      So I fail to see what a rope cargo system would do that trains don't do better. It certainly wouldn't be as fast, I have trouble believing it'd be as efficient, and as you say it'd be ugly.

      Seems like a solution looking for a problem. We don't have a problem moving goods in bulk, place to place for cheap. Heavy cargo rail does a superb job, and promises only to get better with hybrid trains (locomotives are ideal for hybrid technology, they are electric direct drive already and the need a lot of added weight to function correctly). What we do not have is as good a system for delivering goods to a final destination. Trucks are the best we've come up with for something that can move a reasonable amount of material for a reasonable price, yet can go to arbitrary locations as needed.

      • by Americano (920576)

        Is that if you have a stable, point-to-point thing then, well, you want a train.

        Or a pipeline. Or a road. Or a shipping lane. Or air cargo. Or a ropeway system. Or a train of pack mules. There are lots of ways to move cargo, there is no "one true way" to move it most efficiently. You choose the method that's most suitable for your needs.

        Trains do work great for moving cargo. They also require significant environmental impact (clearing land, grading hilly terrain, carving tunnels), and your engines,

      • Presumably you live somewhere very flat. Railways can manage only very gentle gradients, and the cost of tunnelling and bridges is enormous. In the early days of rail they experimented with rope haulage on steep gradients to get the trains up. It didn't work for the obvious reason - a train is a lumped load, whereas rope haulage works best for distributed loads.
      • by Dare nMc (468959)

        It certainly wouldn't be as fast

        speed of moving material isn't about top speed, it is capacity *speed. if you imagine a ski lift with a chair every 15', it can easily carry several hundred people at 15mph, compared to taking a bus where it carries 30 people at 70 mph, a fully burdened lift may be capable of accepting and delivering 20 people per minute 24/7, while you may need a fleet of buses to do similar (1 operator instead of 20) Even with a train, they can't dump while moving at anything but a crawl. A similar concept is the belt-

      • by aprentic (1832)

        Rope cargo systems are great for mountains. That's why they're used extensively in the Austrian Alps for both people and supplies. They're probably used elsewhere too.
        The problem with trains is that the mountainousness terrain is not good for them. Between the valley and the peak there are often several smaller peaks. A rope cargo system can basically go from one mini-peak to the next. A train would have to weave up and down and it would be much more expensive to install. Trains also don't do well on slopes

    • Then scroll down to the big ugly modern cargo ropeways/conveyor belts in the bottom of the article and you can see they're ugly as fuck and can be seen for many miles around.

      Well, we do have power transmission lines crisscrossing the country. They're big eyesores too. In fact, you could conceivably operate both systems right next to each other in the same footprint, though certainly it would have safety implications.

      Also there's very little flexibility, with trucks or trains you can run more or less and even sell parts of it if things are slow. With this you have almost only fixed costs and if you hit the capacity limit it's a very hard limit.

      Why couldn't you run a tramway at half capacity or sell parts of it? Isn't there a hard capacity limit for railways too? Fundamentally, the idea doesn't seem that different from a railroad except the track is in the air rather than on the ground.

      Still, I tend to agr

    • by Tom (822)

      Compared to that a road or railroad is almost invisible.

      While it may harm your sense of esthetics, I'm sure the animals and plants actually living in the area mind a lot less.

      The impact zone of a highway is about two miles in every direction. That is a major cut you're making into the landscape. It's not just the paving itself, you know? It's the noise, the change in animal paths, erosion patterns and a hundred other things.

      but for the most part such a cargoway will only add another exchange point where goods must be unloaded and reloaded which costs time and money.

      Newsflash: That is how airports, railroads and even a lot of trucks already work.

      Also there's very little flexibility, with trucks or trains you can run more or less and even sell parts of it if things are slow. With this you have almost only fixed costs and if you hit the capacity limit it's a very hard limit.

      You can certainly put more or less containers on the rope,

    • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Monday January 31, 2011 @07:16AM (#35054952) Homepage

      Nature doesn't care how it looks, it cares what it's footprint is. Roads result in a segmented habitat, millions of tons of CO2, and roadkill galore. This would result in none of those.

    • There is one niche that Dirigibles could fill quite nicely that they have not yet appeared in: Cruise Liners. Unlike the Ocean Liners of yore they would not be competing on cargo haul or schedule. They would be competing on uniqueness of experience and elegance.

      They also turn out to be very good aerial cranes, but neither case is going to work out if they have to use helium for buoyancy: there simply isn't enough of it trapped terrestrially to sustain a large number of airships, and it's far too valuable

      • by vlm (69642)

        but neither case is going to work out if they have to use helium for buoyancy: there simply isn't enough of it trapped terrestrially to sustain a large number of airships, and it's far too valuable to waste on such frivolities.

        Conveniently they have immense air resistance and need large amounts of power to move quickly. So, flooring the engines to speed up makes more heat, more heat means more lift, up you go, slowing down means less heat, down you go.

        The problem is a "hot air dirigible" would collapse onto the ground were the heat source to go away. Use a reliable heat source, like a nuke.

        • The problem is a "hot air dirigible" would collapse onto the ground were the heat source to go away. Use a reliable heat source, like a nuke.

          While I completely see where you're coming from with this, somehow a nuclear powered dirigible is just bizarre.....

    • No animal has ever been hurt by an ugly construction, this structure exists above the trees. So the animals can live beneath it,their habitat is not cut up by a road, no animals are killed on the road.

      Clearly you are one of those people who think oil slicks are good for nature because they sparkle so nicely in the sun.

  • problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:52AM (#35054238) Homepage

    The principal problem of this, and most other similar suggestions, is that while such a system is good for a-b transport, reality is a network. Such a system helps you not at all, unless the goods to be delivered are already at the start-station, and are being transported to the end-station.

    If not, you need to *first* load it on one mode of transport (typically some kind of car) -then- drive to the nearest "station" where the goods are repackaged, then near the destination, repeat.

    It turns out the delays and costs of reloading cargo, frequently makes the economy such that it's better to simply go the entire distance by lorry. The advantage of the lorry is that it goes from where your goods are, to where you want them, with zero intermediary re-loads. (typically anyway, sure there's exceptions)

    The lack of a robust network, also makes the system vulnerable. When (not if!) one ropeway breaks down, what do you do ? Reroute onto roads ? Wait ?

    I think the best hopes are for dual-mode-transport, that is, vehicles that can drive both on normal roads -and- on special-purpose tracks of some sort. Doing this, gives you the best of two worlds. Have a look at http://www.ruf.dk/ [www.ruf.dk] for an example system.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "If not, you need to *first* load it on one mode of transport (typically some kind of car) -then- drive to the nearest "station" where the goods are repackaged, then near the destination, repeat."

      With trains, you can drive the whole truck onto a railway wagon (Modalohr road trailer carriers) and move it a couple of thousand miles until the driver does the last bit of transportation to the actual destination himself.
      I live 1 mile from such a station and it's highly successful.
      Saves also a lot of road tolls.

    • You would load the cargo in to a container which would then be placed to be picked up in some fashion, take the example of skiiers the chair lift only stops when something goes wrong...

      I cant help but to think that a railway is a better alternative tho...

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      The cost of building such a system is a major factor too. When the government builds a road it is paid for out of general taxation and they can get compulsory purchase orders on land. All companies are then free to use those roads with their existing vehicles. As such there is very little reason to invest hundreds of millions and decades of legal wrangling in a project that might be redundant anyway by the time it is finished.

    • by Tom (822)

      Almost all modern logistics are network-based already. The truck that comes over to pick up your UPS package is not really the same truck that delivers it at the destination.

      Imagine a network of such transport cables alongside the most common routes, and loading stations at the end points and maybe intermediate points.

      How many trucks drive the same route along the same interstate every day? How many of them already pick up their stuff at a loading bay and deliver it to a loading bay? All you'd need is move

    • The problem is that some people just can't get their heads around the idea of a solution sometimes not being perfect but still being needed. A cast is far from ideal to have around your leg, but better then walking around with a broken leg.

      Inner city transportation, especially in old cities, is a simple question of just how much grid lock you can have before goods become impossible to move. If you want to supply every shop in an ancient city center, then you either have to tear everything down or find somew

    • I think the best hopes are for dual-mode-transport, that is, vehicles that can drive both on normal roads -and- on special-purpose tracks of some sort.

      That's a fascinating idea, but I'm going to have to go with dual catapults on this one. No tracks needed, and the environmental impact is minimum (for the intervening geometry).

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      That looks like a pretty nice gateway to a full-rail system. Unfortunately, it won't work with existing auto designs... it ONLY works with EVs if you put it in practical terms. (You could build a hybrid but... ugh)

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      I think the best hopes are for dual-mode-transport, that is, vehicles that can drive both on normal roads -and- on special-purpose tracks of some sort. em.

      Actually, the most efficient method of moving freight has been shown to be rail for long distance with trucking for shorter distance. Containers off-loaded from ships, and transported by rail to regional depots, say every 500 miles. There they are transferred to truck for the final destination (upto 250 mile radius). Since large cities would be the regional depots, and they also receive most of the shipments, most truck delivery would be very short-haul.

      This is the system used in most other countries tha

  • by syousef (465911) on Monday January 31, 2011 @03:52AM (#35054240) Journal

    Who wouldn't want to say that!?!

    In your face nuclear powered data centers!

  • Tell me more about this RopeCon you speak of. I am a level 47 Paladin and am interested in exploring the northern lands.

  • In addition to rope systems we should also use pneumatic tubes. Mail in Manhattan used to be transported across town efficiently, until GM convinced the Post Office to switch to trucks.

    I also expect any day now for passenger dirigibles to make a comeback. Popular Science can't be wrong. They've been saying it since 1974.
  • The point of the submission isn't that rope is replacing rail. Rail can do 7 times or more than the capacity cited in the article:
    http://www.ugpti.org/pubs/html/dp-170/pg4.php [ugpti.org]

    The point is that seeing how our engineering forebears across the ages moved stuff around by elaborate rope and pulley systems, is freaking cool, and so is the fact that it's still incredibly useful in specific applications today.

  • It could be an alternative to this sort of thing:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CarGoTram [wikipedia.org]

    It goes from one factory (or warehouse) to another. Both have the same owner and are in the same city.

    This is the sort of solution you might choose if you are unable to expand your existing property. You buy another property near by and then connect them.

    The big trouble is getting the rights to install such an ugly thing. You'd have to lobby the government to make a special allowance. Probably you'd go on about how you're

  • Well the article itself is wishful thinking. It won't replace JIT, and it sure won't replace rolling warehouses that deliver items exactly to where it needs to go within a few minutes of needing it. Unless fuel hits $10+gal or more, trucks will continue to be the cheapest way to get things from point a to b.

    Even then, you'll be able to see the market react to whatever is cheapest. And in anycase, we already have something similar to 'aerial ropeways' they're called rail roads. And they cost 4-8x as much

    • by ctid (449118)

      Why are you trying to sound authoritative about this when you have not read the article? It's not wishful thinking - the article gives several examples of this sort of system in use.

  • Like everybody, I imagine, when the submission mentioned "RopeCon" I immediately thought of the role-playing convention held annually in Finland. Not a day goes by without ol' RopeCon being a topic of conversation in my household, I can tell you! But thanks to the submitter's wisdom I was thoughtfully steered away from this potentially embarrassing misunderstanding.

    Who knows what kind of hilarious, cross-purpose confusion would have arisen on these pages otherwise? They are such similar subjects that no-one

  • Nothing to ski here.

    Sorry...seriously though, this sounds like a great idea.
  • What if, instead of dangling things from ropes and letting them swing around in the wind and such, we put the cargo in boxes on some kind of wheeled support structure that rode on narrow elevated support beams?

    The coefficient of rolling friction between steel wheels and a steel support beam is something very very small, 0.001 or such. This has the advantage of keeping the cargo from swinging around so much.

    One other improvement would be that, instead of pulling the cargo with a rope, you could make one of t

  • I'm surpised the one featured in the movie Get Carter isn't mentioned.

    http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj101/hannahmacklin/GetCarterDrinkitall.jpg [photobucket.com]

    http://img.listal.com/image/1349290/936full-get-carter-screenshot.jpg [listal.com]

  • I doubt this is practical for general transportation. It works well for short distance moving of cargo from a point source to a staging area, especially when the need for the transportation is temporary such as in Skyline Logging [idahoforests.org]. It's hard to envision this as a permanent solution replacing trains outside of mining or forestry.

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