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Publication numberUS20050288111 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/139,352
Publication dateDec 29, 2005
Filing dateMay 27, 2005
Priority dateMay 28, 2004
Publication number11139352, 139352, US 2005/0288111 A1, US 2005/288111 A1, US 20050288111 A1, US 20050288111A1, US 2005288111 A1, US 2005288111A1, US-A1-20050288111, US-A1-2005288111, US2005/0288111A1, US2005/288111A1, US20050288111 A1, US20050288111A1, US2005288111 A1, US2005288111A1
InventorsJohn Cowan, Cynthia Morse
Original AssigneeJohn Cowan, Morse Cynthia G
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Motorized amusement ride apparatus and method
US 20050288111 A1
Abstract
A self-propelled amusement ride apparatus has a base with a frame mounted on wheels. A motor is coupled to the wheels for transmitting power thereto for moving the apparatus over a non-tracked support surface. A riding body is coupled to the base and has a seating surface for supporting a rider. The body is shaped to resemble an animal, character, vehicle, vessel, aircraft, architectural structure or other recognizable object selected to provide an amusing or entertaining appearance. A controller of the apparatus is positioned for operation by the rider while being supported on the seating surface for controlling speed and direction of movement of the apparatus. A human rider may be moved over a support surface by actuating the amusement ride apparatus. The rider directs the movement of the apparatus over a non-tracked support surface using the controller.
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Claims(19)
1. A self-propelled amusement ride apparatus comprising:
a base having a frame mounted on wheels;
a motor coupled to the wheels for transmitting power thereto for moving the apparatus over a non-tracked support surface;
a riding body coupled to the base and having a seating surface for supporting a rider, the body being shaped to resemble at least one of an animal, character, vehicle, vessel, aircraft, architectural structure or other recognizable object selected to provide an amusing or entertaining appearance; and
a controller positioned for operation by the rider while supported on the seating surface for controlling speed and direction of movement of the apparatus.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein:
the riding body is movably coupled to the base to allow relative motion between the base and the riding body.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
an exchange medium receptor for receiving an exchange medium, the apparatus being actuated upon receipt of a selected exchange medium by the exchange medium receptor.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
an audio device for producing sounds with the apparatus.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein:
the riding body is shaped to resemble at least one of an animal, character, vehicle, vessel, aircraft or architectural structure.
6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein:
the direction of movement is facilitated by differential steering of the wheels.
7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein:
the apparatus is capable of speeds of not more than 10 mph.
8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein:
the riding body is adjustable to different positions relative to the base.
9. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
a timer control for selectively limiting the time of actuation of the apparatus.
10. A method of moving a human over a support surface, the method comprising:
providing a self-propelled amusement ride apparatus that includes:
a) a base having a frame mounted on wheels;
b) a motor coupled to the wheels for transmitting power thereto for moving the apparatus over a non-tracked support surface;
c) a riding body coupled to the base and having a seating surface for supporting a rider, the body being shaped to resemble an animal, character, vehicle, vessel, aircraft, architectural structure or other recognizable object selected to provide an amusing or entertaining appearance; and
d) a controller for controlling speed and direction of movement of the apparatus;
positioning a rider on the seating surface;
actuating the amusement ride apparatus; and
allowing the rider to direct the movement of the apparatus over a non-tracked support surface using the controller.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein:
the riding body is movably coupled to the base to allow relative motion between the base and the riding body.
12. The method of claim 10, wherein:
the apparatus further includes an exchange medium receptor for receiving an exchange medium; and wherein
actuation of the amusement ride apparatus is accomplished upon receipt of a selected exchange medium by the exchange medium receptor.
13. The method of claim 10, wherein:
the apparatus further includes an audio device for producing sounds with the apparatus.
14. The method of claim 10, wherein:
the riding body is shaped to resemble at least one of an animal, character, vehicle, vessel, aircraft or architectural structure.
15. The method of claim 10, wherein:
the direction of movement is facilitated by differential steering of the wheels.
16. The method of claim 10, wherein:
the apparatus is capable of speeds of not more than 10 mph.
17. The method of claim 10, wherein:
the riding body is adjustable to different positions relative to the base.
18. The method of claim 10, wherein:
the apparatus further includes a timer control for selectively limiting the time of actuation of the apparatus.
19. A method of moving a human over a support surface, the method comprising:
providing a self-propelled amusement ride apparatus that includes:
a) a base having a frame mounted on wheels;
b) a motor coupled to the wheels for transmitting power thereto for moving the apparatus over a non-tracked support surface, the direction of movement being facilitated by differential steering of the wheels and that provides a top speed of not more than 10 mph;
c) a riding body coupled to the base and having a seating surface for supporting a rider, the body being shaped to resemble an animal, character, vehicle, vessel, aircraft, architectural structure or other recognizable object selected to provide an amusing or entertaining appearance; and
d) a controller for controlling speed and direction of movement of the apparatus; and
e) an exchange medium receptor for receiving an exchange medium, the apparatus being actuated upon receipt of a selected exchange medium by the exchange medium receptor;
f) a timer control for selectively limiting the time of actuation of the apparatus for a selected period of time upon receipt of the selected exchange medium by the exchange medium receptor;
positioning a rider on the seating surface;
providing the selected exchange medium to the receptor;
actuating the amusement ride apparatus; and
allowing the rider to direct the movement of the apparatus over a non-tracked support surface using the controller while the apparatus is actuated, the timer control limiting the actuation of the apparatus upon passage of the selected period of time.
Description

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/575,465, filed May 28, 2004, which is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

This invention relates generally to devices that can be ridden for recreation, entertainment or amusement.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures, in which:

FIG. 1 is left side elevational view of an amusement ride apparatus;

FIG. 2 is an electrical schematic of the amusement ride apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is s right side elevational view of the amusement ride apparatus of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 is a right side elevational view of the amusement ride apparatus of FIG. 1, shown with a rider positioned on the apparatus;

FIG. 5 is a left side elevational view of an amusement ride apparatus employing a riding body in the form of a pig;

FIG. 6 is a left-front perspective view of an amusement ride apparatus employing a riding in the form of a horse-drawn wagon; and

FIG. 7 is right front perspective view of another embodiment of the amusement ride apparatus.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, an amusement ride apparatus or device 10 is shown. The apparatus 10 includes a base 12 having a frame 14. The base 12 is carried on wheels that are mounted to the frame 14. The wheels may include a pair of drive wheels 16 that are coupled to a motor 18. In the embodiment shown, there are two drive wheels 16 that are laterally spaced apart on either side of the base 12. The motor 18 may be coupled to the drive wheels 16 through a transmission or gears (not shown), with the motor 18 and gears being mounted to or carried by the frame 14.

The drive wheels 16 may be coupled to a single motor through separate transmissions so that they each may be independently rotated to allow for differential steering of the apparatus 10. Alternatively, as in the embodiment shown, the drive wheels 16 may each be coupled to a separate motor 18A, 18B (FIG. 2). The motor 18 may include an electric motor or a combustible fuel engine. In the embodiment shown, the motors 18A, 18B are electric motors and are powered by a battery or batteries 20. The batteries may be disposable or rechargeable batteries. For example one or more rechargeable 12 volt batteries may be used to power the motor 18. In the embodiment shown, the batteries are rechargeable 12 volt batteries connected in series.

The wheels may also include one or more non-drive wheels such as the wheels 22 and wheels 24. In the embodiment shown, the wheels 22 may constitute stabilizer wheels, which may be located to facilitate stabilization of the apparatus 10 so that the apparatus 10 does not tip or tilt during use. The wheels 24 may be pivotally mounted to the frame 14 to facilitate turning of the apparatus 10. Various other configurations of wheels of different sizes, number or positions, both pivotal or non-pivotal, may be used as well.

The base 12 may have a shroud or housing 26 that mounts over the frame 14 and houses the components of the base 12, such as the gears, motor 18, battery 20, etc.

An example of a suitable base 12 may include those designed or configured for electric wheelchairs and the like, with the chair portion of the wheel chair removed. Examples of such commercially available wheelchairs having suitable bases includes the BRAVO SERIES (HP-4), available from Summit Durable Medical Equipment, Inc.; the JET™ 2/2HD, available from Pride Mobility Products Corp.; and the PRONTO M51, available from Invacare Corporation. Such wheelchairs may be provided with a controller, which is discussed later on.

Mounted to the base 12 is a riding body 28. The riding body 28 may be configured to resemble a recognizable figure or form selected to provide an entertaining or amusing appearance and ride experience. In particular, the figure or form of the body 28 may be or have an appearance of that of a stationary “kiddie ride” apparatus, such as those coin-operated machines used for entertaining children at stores, arcades, parks and the like. Examples of different forms for the body 28 include animal forms, real or fictitious character forms—both human and non-human, vehicles, water vessels, aircraft, rockets, spacecraft, wagons, buildings, plants, houses, buildings, and other structures. Examples of animal forms include those of horses, ponies or donkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, cats, dogs, bears, camels, dinosaurs, elephants, dolphins, whales, fish, seals, frogs, snails, turtles, kangaroos, birds, various insects, etc. Other examples of different forms include trains or locomotives, motorcycles, race cars, trucks, buses, police cars, fire trucks, bull dozers and construction vehicles, helicopters, horse or animal drawn wagons, such as chuck wagons, stage coaches, etc.

Other amusing or entertaining recognizable forms for the body 28 may also be used that are recognizable to children or adults. These may include such things as celestial objects (such as a moon, stars, planets, comets, etc.), household items (egs. cups, bowls, saucers, appliances, books, etc.), various sporting and athletic items or equipment (eg. balls, gloves, shoes, etc.), thematic objects, etc. The types of recognizable forms for the body 28 are virtually unlimited and may be both real and imaginary in nature. Such objects may be of the type that are not typically employed for riding or transportation purposes. The objects may be larger or smaller in size than the objects they resemble or are otherwise configured or presented so that they resemble but are readily perceived as not being the actual object they represent or, if perceived as being the actual object, in a context with the base and other elements of the apparatus they are readily perceived as being artificial in nature and used for entertainment or amusement purposes in connection with the riding apparatus and not in a manner the object would be used conventionally.

The riding body 28 is provided with a seating surface 30 for supporting a rider. In the embodiment shown, the body 28 is that of a galloping horse or pony, with the seating surface 30 being configured or provided as a saddle. The seating surface 30 may optimally be designed for use by a single person, however, in certain instances it may provide a seating area two or three adults or children.

The riding body 28 is generally suspended over the wheeled base 12. A riding body support 32 may be provided for this. In the embodiment shown, the support 32 extends upward from and is coupled to the frame 14 of the base 12. The support 32 may be adjustable so that the body 28 may be positioned at different heights relative to the base 12 for use with riders of different sizes. The support 32 may be in the form of a multi-piece telescoping arm, with a releasable locking mechanism (not shown) for locking and unlocking the multi-pieces together.

A platform or foot supports 34 may be mounted to the base 12 or support 32. In the embodiment shown, there are two foot supports 34 positioned below and to either side of the body 28.

The riding body 28 may be mounted on a suitable frame or other structure that allows rocking, vibration or other motion relative to the base 12. Such motion and means for creating such motion may be similar to the stationary kiddie ride devices discussed previously, and which are known to those skilled in the art. Additionally, an audio device, which may include a sound player and speaker (not shown), may be provided with the apparatus 10 to produce various sounds that enhance the riding experience during the operation of the device 10.

Referring to FIG. 3, an exchange medium receptor device 36 is provided. The exchange medium receptor 36 may be mounted on arm 37 and be configured for receiving currency, which may be in the form of coins or bills. In the embodiment shown, the receptor 36 is configured for receiving coins or non-monetary tokens. In the later case, the tokens may be configured for use with the receptor 36 and have a monetary value assigned that allows the tokens to be purchased from a vendor in a desired amount for use with the apparatus 10.

Other exchange medium devices may also be used. This may include credit cards or similar card or non-card devices that may be scanned or read by the receptor. Additionally, the exchange medium receptor may include an input mechanism, such as an electronic keypad (not show), that allows a code or other data to be entered or input into the device 36 to actuate the apparatus 10. Upon payment to a vendor of a required amount, the vendor may input or provide the user with the code or other information that may be input into the device 36. Upon input of the code or information, the apparatus 10 is actuated. Such a code may be a single-use code so that subsequent input of the code upon completion of a ride event does not actuate the device 10.

The receptor device 36 shown in FIG. 3 includes a housing 38 for housing the internal components thereof. A coin or token slot 40 is provided for receiving coins or tokens for actuating the apparatus 10. A coin return dispense mechanism 42 and coin return area 44 may be provided with the device 36, as well.

Referring to FIG. 2, a schematic of the electrical system of the apparatus 10 is shown. As shown, the receptor device 36 includes a receptor switch 46 that is coupled to a timer control 48. The timer 48 is adjustable so that different time intervals may be selected. The time intervals may be less than a minute to several minutes and may vary depending upon the exchange medium used or the value of the exchange medium received by the receptor device 36.

The receptor switch 46 may be electrically or mechanically activated. The switch 46 and timer 48 are coupled to the batteries 20 through a relay 50. The motor 18, as well as a control system 52, which may include a microprocessor, for the apparatus 10, is coupled to the batteries 20 through the relay 50. Upon activation of the timer 48, the relay 50 allows current to flow from the batteries 20 to the control system 52 and motor 18.

The control system 52 includes a controller 54 for directing movement of the apparatus 10. The controller 54 may be provided with ajoystick 56 or other mechanism that allows the rider to directly control the speed and direction of the apparatus 10. The controller 54 may also include other control mechanisms such as a kill or on/off switch, speed settings, horn, etc. The separate display or a display of the controller 54 may also include a display for indicating speed, battery life or fuel level, etc.

In the embodiment shown, the control system 56 controls the speed and direction of rotation of the drive wheels 16. Thus, for example, when the joystick 56 is pressed for forward movement the control system 52 causes the motors 18A, 18B to rotate the drive wheels 16 for forward motion. When the joystick 56 is pressed for rearward motion, the control system 52 causes the motors 18A, 18B to rotate the wheels 16 in the opposite direction.

Turning may be accomplished through differential steering wherein the drive wheel(s) 16 on one side of the apparatus 10 is slowed or held stationary relative to the other, thus turning the apparatus 10 in the direction of the slowed or stationary drive wheel 16. Angled wheel steering or non-angled wheel steering, wherein no wheels are angled to facilitate movement in the desired direction, may also be employed. The joystick 56 may be biased or springloaded so that release of the joystick 56 brings the joystick to a default centered position, wherein the control system 52 causes the drive wheels 16 to stop. The joystick 56 may also be manually brought to the centered position, thus braking or stopping the apparatus 10. Other braking or slowing mechanisms, such as frictional hand brakes, well known to those skilled in the art may be employed as well.

Other steering mechanisms may also be employed. This may include steerable guide wheels that are controlled by a steering wheel (not shown), handles or other devices, such as the joystick 56.

The apparatus 10 may have a regulator to limit the top speeds at which it may travel to ensure safety of the rider. The top speeds may range from about ˝ mph, 1 mph or 5 mph, 10 mph or more. Higher speeds of 20 to 30 mph or more may also be used.

The timer 48 allows the apparatus 10 to be operated for a selected time interval. When the selected time interval is reached, the device 10 may be deactivated until receipt by the receptor device 36 of another exchange medium unit. A prompt, such as a flashing light, or other indicator (not shown) may also be provided to indicate to the rider that the time interval is about to be reached.

The device 10 may also incorporate a two-wheeled device or multi-wheeled device that employs gyroscopes employed in the base that is directed by leaning of the rider, such as the SEGWAY® device, and which is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,975,225, 5,701,965 and 6,651,766, each herein incorporated by reference.

The apparatus 10 may be provided without the medium exchange receptor device and timer mechanism, described previously, wherein the apparatus may be ridden for extended periods without being deactivated.

Referring to FIG. 5, another embodiment of the amusement ride apparatus is shown. The apparatus, designated at 70, is generally similar as the apparatus 10, with similar components designated with the same reference numerals. The apparatus 70 employs the form of a pig for the riding body 28.

FIG. 6 shows still another embodiment of an amusement ride apparatus 80, which is similar to the apparatuses 10 and 70, with similar components designated with the same reference numerals. The apparatus 80 employs a horse-drawn wagon as the riding body 28. The seating surface 30 constitutes a bench-like seating surface.

Referring to FIG. 7, another embodiment of an amusement ride apparatus 90 is shown. The apparatus 90 is similar to those previously described, with similar components designated with the same reference numerals. In the device 90, the riding body 28 is provided with its own wheels 92, which engage the support surface over which the body 28 is to be moved. The riding body 28 is coupled to the base 12, such as through a second body 94, which may have an amusing or entertaining appearance, such as those previously described for the riding body 28. In the embodiment shown, the riding body 28 is in the form of a wagon and the second body 94 is in the form of a horse or pony so that it appears as if the horse or pony is drawing the wagon. The riding body 28 is coupled to the base 12 through linkages or members 96, which may be rigid or flexible, that may be coupled to the body 94. Wiring or other devices necessary for the operation of the device 90 may be passed through or along the linkages or members 96. The controller 54 is positioned on the riding body 28 or other area so that it may be accessed by the rider while being seated on the seating surface 30 or while the rider is otherwise supported on the riding body 28. The controller 54 controls the movement of the base 12. The base 12 and body 94 are used to pull or draw the riding body 28 while being controlled from the riding body 28. The base 12 may be allowed to pivot relative to the body 94 so that the body 94 is generally oriented in the same direction relative to the riding body 28.

The self-propelled devices of the invention may be provided at amusement and theme parks or other areas where the device may be ridden and may provide recreation, entertainment or amusement. The devices are independently guided and controlled by the rider and may be ridden by both children and adults, as shown in FIG. 4. The devices may be ridden over a variety of different surfaces, both level and unlevel, and do not require a track or other means for guiding the direction of the device. Because the devices may employ the wheel base of a wheelchair, the devices may be ridden in areas that are wheelchair accessible. The device may be rented for different time periods or be sold. It may be used for parties or special occasions. In such situations, it may be desirable to provide the device without the medium receptor device and timer, which may limit use of the apparatus. Several of the devices may be used simultaneously in races, games, competitions or other activities, each with the same or a different form for the riding body 28.

While the invention has been shown in only some of its forms, it should be apparent to those skilled in the art that it is not so limited, but is susceptible to various changes and modifications without departing from the scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the appended claims be construed broadly and in a manner consistent with the scope of the invention.

Classifications
U.S. Classification472/96
International ClassificationA63G25/00, A63G33/00, A63G19/20, A63G13/06
Cooperative ClassificationA63G19/20, A63G25/00, A63G33/00
European ClassificationA63G25/00, A63G19/20, A63G33/00