US 3250065 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
May 10, 1966 J. D. FROST 3,250,065
DECELERATING CATCHER FOR MOVING OBJECTS Filed Oct. 19, 1964 9 Sheets-Sheet l Fig. 8
James 0. Frost IN VEN TOR.
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DECELERATING CATCHER FOR MOVING OBJECTS Filed Oct. 19, 1964 9 Sheets-Sheet 3 James 0. Frost INVENTOR.
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y 1966 J. D. FROST DECELERATING CATCHER FOR MOVING OBJECTS 9 Sheets-Sheet 7 Filed Oct. 19, 1964 INVENTOR. (JAMES 1). 159057 May 10, 1966 J. D. FROST DECELERATING CATCHER FOR MOVING OBJECTS 9 Sheets-Sheet 8 Filed Oct. 19, 1964 mom com mom JAMES D. FROST INVENTOR AWORNEVS May 10, 1966 J. D. FROST DECELEIKATINGr CATGHER FOR MOVING OBJECTS Filed on. 19, 1964 9 Sheets-Sheet 9 352 335 3/3 FG./e/.
JAMES D. FROST lNl/ENTUR ATTORNEYS United States Patent 3,250,065 .DECELERATING CATCHER FOR MOVING OBJECTS James Dahle Frost, P.0. Box 775, Porterville, Calif. Filed Oct. 19, 1964, Ser. No. 406,656 21 Claims. (Cl. 56-329) This invention relates to apparatus for catching and decelerating moving objects, and more particularly relates to catchers such as fruit and nut harvesting machinery used in gathering tree grown fruit and nuts. Such harvesting machinery is used in cooperation with a tree shaking machine, the catchers embodying an arrangement of inflatable pneumatic cushions which are positioned beneath the tree and absorb the impact of the fruit and nuts falling thereon. The invention prevents the fruit or nuts from rebounding and provides a central gathering location toward which the harvested fruit and nut-s are directed. The arrangement of the cushions is such so as to prevent fruit or nuts falling between the individual cushions and onto the ground. This invention is a continaution-in-part of the James D. Frost, patent application which was filed July 23, 1962, and bears Serial No. 213,570, and is now abandoned.
While the invention is specifically described in connection with such fruit and nut harvesting machinery, other environments of use will occur to persons confronted with the problem of decelerating or catching moving objects which have a finite quantum of kinetic energy by reason of their motion. It will be observed that, as a harvesting apparatus, the invention serves as a decelerating cushion'between the earth and an object attracted thereto under the influence of gravitational force. In other fields of use, the invention serves equally well to decelerate a body moving relative to another, regardless of the source of disturbing force. For example, the invention is well-suited for use in catching any type of object, including fruits, nuts, and more massive objects, such as large melons, and even'persons required to jump from a height because of emergency reasons, such as fire.
The disturbing force acting on the objects relative to each other need not have a vertically oriented line of action. As a further example, the invention can be employed to absorb the kinetic energy of a person riding in a moving vehicle, such as an automobile or airplane, when relative motion occurs between the person and the vehicle. This is the normal result of a sudden deceleration of the vehicle, as in the case of a crash with another vehicle or a relatively immovable object. Accordingly, the invention has utility to absorb the kinetic energy of the person moving relatively with respect to the supporting .vehicle. Stated more broadly, the invention can be employed as a cushion between two objects to absorb the kinetic energy of relative motion therebetween, whether the one object is outside the physical boundaries of the other object, or is within such boundaries, as in an automobile, or other confining structure considered as a container for the body or object supported therein.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an energy absorbing cushion adapted for use between two objects subjected to relative motion, so as to absorb the kinetic energy of one of the objects present by reason of the relative motion.
Another object is to provide a decelerating cushion adapted for use in a moving vehicle to absorb kinetic energy of objects supported in the vehicle and subjected to relative motion therebetween.
.Another object is to provide a decelerating catcher adapted for use in absorbing the kinetic energy of a moving object regardless of the direction of the line of action of the force acting upon the object.
3,250,065 Patented May 10, 1966 It is also an object of this invention to provide fruit and nut catchers which are positioned beneath a tree and which include inflatable pneumatic cushions upon which the fruit and nuts fall, the impact therefrom being substantially entirely absorbed by the cushions so that the fruit will not rebound to collide with falling fruit and so that damage to the fruit and nuts does not occur'.
Another object of this invention is to provide fruit and nut catchers of the aforementioned character where in the cushions are arranged in overlapping vertically spaced relationship so that the falling fruit and nuts will fall on at least one cushion, and thereby have the force of the fall absorbed by the cushion, the fruit falling on the lower cushion being protected from falling fruit by the overlapping portion of the upper cushion.
A further object of this invention is to provide fruit and nut catchers of the aforementioned character wherein the inflatable cushions snugly engage and at least partially en circle the trunk of the tree so as to prevent fruit or nuts falling to the ground between the trunk and the adjacent cushion, the cushions engaging the tree being collapsible so that the cushion can flow by the tree and the catchers moved from one location to another.
A more specific object of this invention is to provide fruit and nut catchers of the aforementioned character wherein the cushions are arranged and constructed so that the fruit and nuts falling thereon will gently roll down toward a central gathering location.
Another specific object of this invention is to provide fruit and nut catchers of the aforementioned character wherein the quantity of air in the pneumatic cushions is so controlled as to not exceed a predetermined maximum.
A yet more specific object of this invention is to provide fruit and nut catchers of the aforementioned character wherein the catchers are elevatable so as to compensate for the growth of tree branches.
Another object of this invention is to provide fruit and nut catchers of the aforementioned character wherein the cushions are in overlapping relationship for the aforementioned reason and provided in great enough numbers and of particular dimensions so that fruit or nuts falling thereon will roll therefrom before being struck by falling fruit or nuts.
Another highly important object of the invention is to provide, in a manner as hereinafter set forth, an improved catcher of the aforementioned character which is adapted to gather the fruit as it falls and deposit said fruit in boxes to be conveniently removed.
Still another very important object of the invention is to provide catchers of the character described comprising inflatable means, the construction and arrangement of which is such as to prevent the fruit from rebounding into the air to collide with and damage falling fruit.
A further object of this invention is to provide inflated fruit and nut catchers and gatherers which may be expeditiously shifted from place to place with a minimum of effort.
Other objects of the invention are to provide an inflatable fruit and nut catcher of the character set forth which will be comparatively simple in construction, strong, durable, compact, of light weight and which may be manufactured at low cost.
These, together with other advantages which will become subsequently apparent reside in the details of construction and mode of operation as more fully hereinafter described and claimed, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout, and in which:
FIG. 1 is a view in rear elevation, showing one form of an apparatus embodying the present invention in position for use in conjunction with a tree shaker.
FIG.'2 is a top plan view of the apparatus.
taken substantially on line 33 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary view in horizontal section through an end portion of the apparatus, taken substantially on line 4-4 of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a vertical longitudinal sectional view on an enlarged scale, taken substantially on line 5-5 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view in elevation of a portion of the front end of the apparatus, showing an air exhaust valve.
FIG. 7 is a vertical sectional view on an enlarged scale,
taken substantially on line 77 of FIG. 6.
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary view on an enlarged scale, taken substantially on line 8-8 of FIG. 3.
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary view in transverse section on an enlarged scale, taken substantially on line 99 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 10 is an end elevational view, showing the in- 'flatable wings in folded or in operative position as when the unit is to be moved or stored.
FIG. 11 is a top plan view of a second form of fruit and nut catcher, parts being broken away to disclose details of construction.
FIG. 12 is a horizontal sectional view, partially in elevation, taken on line 12-12 of FIG. 11.
FIG. 13 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken on line 13-13 of FIG. 11.
FIG. 14 is a sectional view, partially in elevation, taken on irregular line 14-14 of FIG. 12, and showing the collapse of a portion of a pneumatic cushion.
FIG. 15 is a fragmentary end view taken on line 1515 of FIG. 11 and showing air exhaust apparatus for relieving-pressure within certain cushions and for blowing leaves and debris from endless conveyors.
FIG. 16 is an enlarged View of the exhaust valves employed with the cushions as disclosed in FIG. 15, parts being taken away to disclose details of construction.
FIG. 17 is a sectional view, partially in elevation, similar to the sectional view of FIG. 12, but showing another form of fruit and nut catcher.
FIG. 18 is a view in side elevation of a fourth form of the invention designed to catch, or decelerate objects more massive than small fruits and nuts, the decelerating cushion being shown in a collapsed, or deflated, condition.
FIG. 19 is a view in side elevation with parts broken away showing the decelerating catcher of FIG. 18 in an inflated, or distended, condition.
FIG. 20 is a fragmentary view in longitudinal vertical section of a vehicle equipped with a fifth form of the invention secured to the seats provided in the vehicle, one of the decelerating cushions being shown in an inflated condition, while the other is shown in a deflated condition.
FIG. 21 is a fragmentary view in rear elevation of a passenger seat of a vehicle equipped with a decelerating catcher as a sixth form of the invention.
FIG. 22 is a view in transverse vertical section taken on line 22-22 of FIG. 21.
Referring, now, to the form of the invention disclosed in FIGS. 1l0, inclusive, it will be seen that the embodiment of the invention which has been illustrated therein comprises a pair of duplicate mobile units which are designated generally by reference numeral 11. The units 11, when in operative position, are adapted to receive therebetween a fruit or nut tree 12, hereinafter identified simply as tree; from which the fruit or nuts, hereinafter identified simply as fruit, are to be shaken. In FIG. 1 of the drawings a suitable shaking machine 13 is shown engaging tree 12.
Each of the units 11 comprises a chassis which includes an elongated frame 14 mounted on supporting wheels 15 which are steerable to facilitate maneuvering the unit 11. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-10, the frame 14 comprises longitudinal inner and outer bars 16 and 17, respectively, cross or transverse bars 18, the bars being preferably of channel iron.
Mounted longitudinally beneath the central portion of the frame 14 is a conveyor 19. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 110, inclusive, the conveyor 19 is suspended on hangers 20 which depend from the frame 14. Extending transversely between the hangers 20 and journaled in bearings 21 provided therefor are shafts 22. Pulleys or sprocket gears 23 are mounted on the shafts 22, and endless cables or chains 24 are trained over said pulleys o'r sprocket gears. Mounted on the conveyor 19 is a suitable number of removable boxes 25 for receiving the fruit from between the inner longitudinal bars 16 of the frame 14.
Mounted on the frame 14 is a pair of upwardly-foldable, lateral wings 26 which are generally inclined toward the central portion of frame 14 so the fruit falling thereon will roll slowly toward boxes 25. Wings 26 include shafts 27 which are journaled in suitable bearings provided therefor on the outer longitudinal bars 17 of the frame structure 14. Fixed at spaced intervals on shafts 27 are right angularly-extending arms 28. Mounted on the side portions of the frame 14 with their outer portions resting on arms 28 and secured thereto at 28a engaging other fruit.
is a pair of inflatable bags, cushions, or pads 29. The inflatable envelopes or cushions 29 have formed therein atlongitudinally-spaced intervals a series of transverse integral baffles or partitions 30 having air passages or openings 31 therein. It will thus be seen that the shape of the inflatable bags 29 and the angle of downward inclination of the upper surface 31a is determined by the shape of bafiles 30. Fruit falling on upper surface 31a will roll slowly toward boxes 25, and the velocity of the rolling fruit will not be so great as to cause damage when It will also be seen that the inflatable bags or cushions 29 are divided into chambers or compartments which communicate through openings 31. It will be noted that the inner longitudinal edges of the inflatable cushions 29 are spaced from each other over the central portion of frame 14 for the fruit to drop from the cushions between the frame bars 16 to the boxes 25 on the conveyor 19. Although the fruit falls into boxes 25, the distance the friut falls from cushions 29 to the boxes is not so great as to impart damage to the fruit striking the sides and bottom of the boxes or other fruit.
Mounted on frame 14 over the space between cushions 29 is an inflated plastic baffle, pillow or the like 32 for deflecting the falling fruit to cushions 29 and for preventing said fruit from falling directly into boxes 25. The quantity of air in baflie 32 is such that when falling fruit strikes the baflle, the force of the impact is absorbed by the baffle so that the fruit instead of rebounding sinks into the baflle. Baflfle 32 slowly regains its shape, and in doing so causes the fruit to roll onto one or the other cushion 29 from where it rolls into a box 25.
Conduits or tubes 33 connect the inflatable cushions 29. A suitable power driven blower 34, FIG. 2 is connected by flexible conduits 35 to the rear ends 36 of the inner or adjacent cushions 29 of units 11, as indicated at 37, see FIG. 4. The flexible conduits 35 are preferably readily detachable from the inflatable cushions 29, and may be suitably valved, if desired. As illustrated to advantage in FIGS. 6 and 7 of the drawings, exhaust valves 38 of gravity-closed flap-type are hingedly mounted at 39 on the forward ends 40 of the innermost cushions 29 for con trolling discharge openings 41 in said ends 40. The valves 38 are weighted as at 42 for regulating the air pressure in the cushions 29. It thus may be seen that valves 38 are pressure relief valves for controlling the quantity of air delivered to cushions 29 by blower 34. The result is that the air withincushions 29 is carefully controlled so that the fruit falling on the upper surface 31a of the cushions sinks into the cushions and is thereby prevented from rebounding in such a manner as to damage other falling ends of the arms 28.
fruit, or damage itself if it were to fall upon the ground. The impact of the fruit striking cushions 29 causes the cushions to breathe; i.e., air is discharged through exhaust valves 38, but the air within the cushions is replenished by blower 34.
Hingedly mounted at 44 on the free ends of the arms 28 of the inner or adjacent wings 26 of the units 11 are inflatable flaps, extensions or tips 45 which substantially close the gap between said units necessitated by the tree 12, inflation of flaps 45 being achieved by flexible conduits, not shown, connecting the adjacent wing 26 with flaps 45. As shown in FIG. 2 of the drawings, two of the flaps, extensions or tips 45 are provided on each of the respective wings, said flaps being longitudinally spaced from each other to receive the tree 12 therebetween.
It is thought that the use or operation of the apparatus will be readily apparent from a consideration of the foregoing. Briefly, the two mobile units 11 are maneuvered into spaced parallelism with each other with the tree 12 from which the fruit is to be shaken therebetween. The wings 26 are then swung downwardly to lowered position from the raised or folded position of FIG. of the drawings, the free edges of the inner wings extending adjacent opposite sides of the tree 12.
Or, if desired, the wings may be lowered before the units are positioned on opposite sides of the .tree. The units 11 are also positioned longitudinally relative to the tree so that said tree does not interfere with the swinging of the tips or flaps 45 to operative position. The tips or flaps 45 are releasably secured in operative position by suitable mechanism, not shown. The blower 34 is then connected to the rear ends of the adjacent or innermost inflatable cushions 29 of the units 11. With the blower 34 in operation, air enters and expands the cushions 29 of the wings 26, the desired shape of the inflated cushions being retained by webs, partitions or baflles 30. The air flows from the inner or adjacent cushions 29 to the outer cushions 29 through the conduits or tubes 33. When the cushions 29 have been inflated to the desired pressure the air exhausts from the valves 38 on the forward ends of said cushions. The bafl'les 30 also assist in resisting the flow of air to facilitate inflating the cushions. With the apparatus thus set up for use, fruit shaken from the tree 12 by the machine 13 falls to the inflated cushions 29 and the shock is absorbed thereby in the aforementioned manner. The fruit, as indicated at 46, FIG. 9, rolls down wings 26 and drops therefrom into boxes 25 on the conveyor 19. Suitable aprons or the like 47 depend from the inner edges of the cushions over which the fruit rolls. Inflatable cushions are preferably, but not necessarily fabricated of sheet plastic which, inflated with low-pressure and high-volume air yields under the impact of the fruit but resumes its normal shape slowly, or stated otherwise,does not snap back, insuring a soft catch, thus constituting the highly-important and desirable feature of the invention.
Thus, the fruit is not caused to rebound into the air where it may strike and damage other falling fruit. Immediately after contact, the fruit 46 rolls slowly directly down the cushion and drops into one of the boxes 25 beneath the baffle or deflector 32 without delay. Of course, the flaps, tips or extensions 45 substantially prevent the fruit from falling between the two units 11. The supports for the deflector or baflie 32 are indicated at 48. The longitudinal members 49 connect the outer or free It will be noted that the flaps or tips 45 are mounted on the respective members 49. When the blower 34 is stopped or disconnected the cushions 29 automatically and immediately deflate and the wings 26 are swung upwardly to folded position preparatory to moving the unit to the next location. If desired, the blower 34 may be mounted in any suitable manner on one of the units 11 to be moved therewith.
SECOND FORM Referring, now, to FIGS. 11-16, inclusive, it is preferred 6 that the catchers illustrated therein be employed in pairs arranged on opposite sides of a tree as illustrated in FIG. 12. Each of the catchers 50 embodies a chassis which includes an elongated frame 52 mounted on elevatable supporting wheels 54 which may be steerable to facilitate maneuvering the catcher and which will hereinafter be described in greater detail. Frame 52 comprises a pair of spaced longitudinal channel bars 56 and 57 which areconnected by transverse cross bars 58. Supported by transverse cross bars 58, and extending longitudinally of the frame 52, is a pair of horizontally spaced fences 60 and 61 which prevent fruit 46 deposited upon the horizontally spaced conveyors 62 and 63 from falling there from, see FIG. 12.
Mounted on the forward end of channel bar 56, as seen in FIG. 11, is an engine bed plate 64 which supports an engine preferably an internal combustion engine 66. Extending from engine 66 is a rotatable shaft 68 which is journaled in a bearing provided therefor by channel bar 57. Supported by shaft 68 are spaced 'rollers 69, and trained over each of the rollers 69 is an endless conveyor belt 70 for each of the conveyors 62 and 63. The rear end of each conveyor belt 70 is trained over a roller 72 which is supported by a shaft 74, the shaft being journaled in bearings provided therefor by channel bars 56 and 57. Bridging the distance between the rear end of channel bars 56 and 57 is a bed plate 76 on which is mounted blower 34.
Mounted on channel bar 56, see FIG. 12, is an upwardly-foldable wing 76, and mounted on fence 61 is another upwardly-foldable wing 78. Wing 76 includes a shaft 80 which is supported by brackets 81 spaced at intervals along channel bar 56. Fixed at spaced intervals on shaft 80 are right angularly-extending arms 82. Bonded or otherwise fastened to arms 82 is an inflatable envelope or cushion 84 which is divided into a series of compartments by rigid baffles or partitions 86, each of which has a pluralityof air passages or openings 88 therein to permit the circulation of air from one compartment to another. Cushion 84 is also bonded or otherwise fastened to partitions 86, and again it is the partitions which determine the shape of the cushion. The upper surface 96 of cushion 84 is inclined downwardly so fruit falling thereon will roll slowly but surely toward conveyor belt 70 of conveyor 62. The longitudinal edge of cushion 84 adjacent conveyor 62 is spaced vertically above the conveyor, but the distance is such that the fruit is not damaged when falling on conveyor belt 7%).
Wing 78 includes a shaft 92 which is supported by fence 61. Disposed at spaced intervals on shaft 92 are right angularly-extending arms 94, and bonded or otherwise fastened to arms 94 is an inflatable cushion 96 which is also divided into compartments by rigid baffles, ribs or partitions 98. The partitions 98 also have a plurality of openings 99 therein so that air may circulate within cushion 96. Partitions 98 are responsible for the shape of cushion 96.
The outer'longitudinal edge of cushion 96 is in an overlapping relationship and spaced vertically from cushion 84 so that fruit falling on or adjacent the outer longitudinal edge of cushion 96 willthen fall onto cushion 84 and roll between cushions 84 and 96. In other Words, the overlapping relationship of cushions 84 and 96 eliminates the possibility of fruit falling from the tree directly to the ground and also the overlapping portion of cushions 96 affords protection for the fruit rolling thereunder.
The inner longitudinal edge of cushion 96 is spaced vertically from conveyor 63 but the distance is such that fruit falling on the conveyor belt 70 will not be damaged.
Air may pass back and forth in cushions 84 and 96 through flexible conduits or tubes 100, and air is delivered to cushions 84 and 96 by the aforementioned blower 34 which has connected thereto flexible delivery pipes or tubes 102, 104 and 106. Delivery tube 102 is releasably connected to the rear end of cushion 84, while delivery tube 104, forming a juncture with delivery tube 106, is releasably connected to the rear of cushion 96.
Delivery tube 186 is releasably connected to an inflatable baflle or pillow 108 which is in overlying relationship to conveyor 63 and which is similar to baffle or pillow 32 and achieves substantially the same purpose. Support for baffle 1118 is provided by a base 110 to which the baflle is fastened, and supporting the base are generally, longitudinally spaced U-shaped brackets 112, one leg 114 of each bracket being connected to and coiled about shaft 92 and the other leg 116 being connected to and coiled about a shaft 118. Shaft 118 is in turn supported by upstanding brackets 120 which are mounted on channel bar 57.
Shaft 118 provides support for an upwardly-foldable wing 122 which includes a plurality of right angularlyextending arms 124 which are pivotally connected to shaft 118. Bonded or otherwise fastened to arms 124 is an inflatable cushion 126 which has a longitudinal rib 128 extending therethrough to which is hingedly mounted a plurality of spaced baflies or partitions 130 which divide cushion 126 into compartments. Baflles 130 establish the shape of cushion 126 in much the same manner as baffles or partitions 86 and 98 establish the shape of cushions 84 and 96, respectively. Each of the partitions has an air passage 132 therein which permits circulation of air within cushion 126.
Partitions 130 are each spring loaded and biased toward the collapsed condition of cushion 126, as illustrated in FIG. 14. However, as long as air is being delivered to cushion 126, the air pressure overcomes the biasing force of the springs and holds the cushionin the inflated condition, but as soon as the supply of air is withdrawn, the spring loaded baffles cause collapse of cushion 126.
Partitions or baffles 130 are divided into a forward set 134, and a rear set 136 by an imperforate partition 138 which is rigidly connected to rib 128. In this way catcher 50 may be moved forwardly into proximity with a tree 12 with the forward portion of cushion 126 collapsed in the manner illustrated in FIG. 14, the detailed manner of collapsing being hereinafter described in greater detail. In the alternative, catcher 50 may be backed into proximity with the tree, and the rear portion of cushion 126 may be collapsed. Collapsing of either the forward or rear portion of cushion 126 may be achieved to move the catcher 50 away from the tree.
When cushion 126 is fully inflated, the outer longitudinal edge snugly engages tree 12, see FIG. 11, and prevents fruit falling directly to the ground between cushion 126 and the tree 12.
Air for cushion 126 is delivered through conduits 14th and 141 which communicate with cushion 96, and air flow through conduits 141 and 141 is controlled by pneumatic or solenoid-actuated butterfly valves 142 and 144, respectively. When butterfly valve 142 is actuated to close conduit 140, the supply of air to the forward portion of cushion 126 is withdrawn, with the result that the forward portion of cushion 126 collapses as shown in FIG. 14. Actuating butterfly valve 142 to open conduit 141) to permit the flow of air from cushion 96 will result in inflating the forward portion of cushion 126. Actuating butterfly valve 144 to open and close conduit 141 communicating with the rear portion of cushion 126 will achieve substantially the same results with respect to the rear portion as that which is achieved by actuating butterfly valve 142 in the aforesaid manner.
'Hingedly mounted on the forward end and rear end of cushion 126, and on the forward end of cushion 84, is exhaust valve 38 which functions in substantially the same manner as previously described in detail.
Mounted on the forward end of cushion 96 is a dual ball check exhaust valve 146, see particularly, FIGS. 15 and 16, which directs air being discharged from cushion 96 onto each conveyor belt 70, the discharge air blowing debris and leaves from the conveyor belts '70. Exhaust valve 146 is actuated when the air pressure within cushion 96 exceeds that of springs 148 in exhaust valve 146 to thereby unseat balls 150 to permit the passage of air from exhaust valve 146.
Returning now to the elevatable Wheel units 54, see FIG. 13, each of which are individually mounted on frame 52 and each of which includes a wheel 147, the purpose of the elevatable wheel units is to lower and raise the catcher 50 in accordance with the height of the tree branches.
Each wheel 147 is rotatably mounted on one end of a lever 156', the other end being pivotally connected to frame 52. Connected to lever 150', intermediate the ends thereof, is the terminal end of a piston 152 which is disposed in a pneumatic cylinder 154. Connecting cylinder 154 to blower 34, or another source of fluid, air, is a conduit 156.
When air is being delivered to the upper end of cylinder 154, piston 152 is extended which forces lever 150 to pivot in a clockwise direction, as seen in FIG. 13, resulting in raising catcher 50 to bring cushions 84, 96 and 126 and pillow .108 into relatively close proximity to the overhanging branches of tree 12. If the branches on the tree are particularly low so that they would interfere and possibly snag the cushions and pillow, the supply of air to cylinder 154 is discontinued, and the weight of the catcher 50 causes .lever 150 to pivot counterclockwise to lower the catcher so that it may pass unhindered under the overhanging branches of the tree.
Since each wheel unit 54 is individually mounted on frame 52, each wheel unit may be raised and lowered independently of the other wheel units so as to compensate for unevenness of the ground, or to compensate for random growth of the tree branches which may not be all at the same height.
Although catcher 50 is capable of achieving substantially the same results as units 11, the width of cushions 84 and 96 are less than the width of one of the cushions 29, but since cushions 84 and 96 are. mounted in an overlapping relationship, as illustrated in FIG. 12, they provide in combination with pillow 108 and cushion 126 for coverage of an area atleast equivalent to that of cushions 29 and battle 32. Also, the period of exposure of fruit on cushions 84, 96 and 126 and pillow 108 is relatively short since the distance the fruit is required to roll to reach the conveyors is relatively short. Additionally, fruit falling on cushion 84 is protected by that portion of cushion 96 which overlaps cushion 84.
Fruit falling on cushions 84, 96 and 126 and pillow 108 causes the cushions and pillow to breathe in substantially the same manner as cushions 29 and pillow 32. Since Wings 76, 78 and 122 are upwardly foldable they may be employed in the same manner as wings 26 and accomplish substantially the same purpose.
THIRD FORM Referring to the form of the invention illustrated in FIG. 17, there is to be seen a fruit catcher which may be employed when the branches of the tree are particularly low. The catcher comprises a chassis which includes an elongated frame 162 supported by wheels 164 which are steerable to facilitate maneuvering the catcher. The wheels are mounted on axles 166 which are supported by spaced elongated channel bars 168 and 170. Connecting channel bars 168 and 170 are transverse cross-beams 172.
Disposed between channel bars 168 and 178' is a pair of conveyors 174 and 176. Located on each side of each conveyor 174 and 176 is a conveyor fence 178 which prevents the fru-it falling on conveyor belts 180 from prematurely rolling therefrom and falling onto the ground.
Fixed at spaced intervals on channel bar 168 are brackets 182 to which arms 184 are pivotally mounted. The outer ends of the arms 184 have fastened thereto an inflatable envelope or cushion 186, and projecting from arms 184 is a tray-like support 185 which cradles cushion 186 and holds it in position. Cushion 186 is divided into com partments by partitions or ribs 188, and each of the ribs has openings 190 therein to permit air to circulate within cushion 186. Connected to each of the arms 184 intermediate the ends thereof is an upstanding support 191, the upper end of which has mounted thereon a cushion pad 192. An inflatable cushion 194 is folded about pad 192 to establish its inflated shape, and with the aid of snap fasteners 196, the cushion isfastened to pad 192. Cushion 194 has openings 198 therein which communicate with inflatable wing cushions 200. A wing cushion 200 is fastened to each longitudinal side of cushion 194 and the air passes through openings 198 to inflate the wing cushions. One wing cushion 200 is in overlapping and vertically-spaced relationship to cushion 186, so as to prevent fruit falling between cushions 186- and 194'and onto the ground.
Overlapping one wing cushion 200 and in spaced vertical relationship thereto is another inflatable cushion 202 which is fastened to the upper end of arms 204 and extending from arms 204 is another tray-like support 205 which cradles cushion 202 to hold it in position for receiving falling fruit. Cushion 202 is divided into compartments by partitions or ribs 206 each of Which has openings 208 therein to permit circulation of air within cushion 202.
Each arm 204 is fastened to the upper end of an extension 210 which is integral with a support bracket 212, the bracket resting on cross-beam 172.
Suspended between the upper end of. extensions 210 and the upper endof each arm 184 is a sling or trough 214. Fruit falling ontotrough 214 from the overhead cushions will roll toward the gravitational center thereof and through openings 216 onto conveyor 'belt 180 of conveyor 174 and. while the fruit is rolling toward conveyor 174 it is protected from falling fruit by the overlapping relationship of the overhead cushions.
The aforementioned support brackets 212, each include a vertical extension 218, to which is fastened an inflatable cushion 220, a portion of which overlaps cushion 202. Cushion 220 is held in position by a tray-like support. 221. which extends from vertical extension 218. The shape of cushion 220 is determined by ribs or partitions 222 which function to accomplish substantially the same purpose as the other cushion ribs heretofore identified. Integral with the upper end of each extension 218 is an inclined extension 224 which is pivotally mounted in a bracket 226, the brackets being mounted on cross-beams 1-72. Supported intermediate the ends of each inclined extension is an upstanding support 226, the supports having mounted thereon a cushion pad 228. Fastened to cushion pad 228 is an inflatable cushion 230 which is substantially identical to cushion 194, and integral with cushion 230 are. wing cushions 232 which are substantially identical to wing cushions 200. Wing cushions 232 are inflated by air passing through openings 234 in cushion 230; one of the wing cushions 232 overlaps cushion 220-and is in vertically-spaced relationship'thereto so that fruit may roll between the overlapping cushion and cushion 220.
Overlapping one of the wing cushions 232 and a portion of cushion 230, and vertically-spaced therefrom is still another cushion 236 which is structurally substantially identical to cushion 202, and the shape of cushion 236 is achieved in substantially the same Way as'is the shape of cushion 202..
Cushion 236 is fastened to the upper end of support rods 238, each support rod being mounted intermediate the ends of a support leg 240-andcushion 2361s further supported in position by a rigid panel 241 which is in turn I supported by and connected tosupport rods 238; Each leg 240 is a component of a generally-U-shaped support bracket 242.
The terminal-end of each leg 240 is fastened to a conveyor fence 17 8. The other leg 244 of each bracket 242 is supported by channel bar 170. Mounted on the bight 10 of bracket 242 is a cushion pad and cushion 246 and248, respectively, which are substantially identical to cushion pad 192 and cushion 194, respectively. Cushion 248 partially overlaps and is vertically-spaced from cushion 236.
Cushion 248 also partially overlaps and is vertically spaced above still another cushion 250. Cushion 250 snugly engages tree 12 in substantially the same manner and for substantially the same purpose as cushion 126. Cushion 250 is bonded or otherwise fastened to a plurality of partitions or ribs 252 which establish the shape of the cushion, and which have a plurality of openings 254 therein so that air may circulate within cushion 250. Cushion 250 is connected to the longitudinal edge of a sling or trough 2 56 and is held in the position illustrated by a tray-like support 257 which extends from the longitudinal edge of trough 256.
Trough 256 is shaped in somewhat the same manner as trough 214 and is supported by vertical extension 218 of support bracket 212. Fruit falling from the overhead cushions associated with trough 256 rolls toward the gravitational center thereof and passes through openings 258 and onto conveyor belt 180 of conveyor 176.
The advantages to be obtained from catcher are those which occur as a result of the arrangement of the multiplicity of cushions which in substantially all occasions are in overlapping, vertically-spaced relationship so that fruit falling from the branches of the tree will not fall directly to the ground. Additionally, the dimensions of the cushion, with respect to the width thereof, is such that fruit will roll therefrom and onto the conveyors before falling fruit is able to strike the rolling fruit. Impact of the fruit on the cushions will cause the cushions to breathe in substantially the same manner as previously described and breathing of the cushions may be achieved by using pressure release means such as shown in FIG. 7, or that shown in FIGS. 14-16. A blower similar to blower 34 may be employed to inflate the various inflatable cushions shown in FIG. 17, and connecting each cushion with the blower may be a flexible conduit similar to those previously described.
Although the wheels 164, shown in FIG. 17, are not illustrated as being elevatable, it is to be understood that the wheels may include structure for raising and lowering catcher 160 so as to produce the same results as is obtained with catcher 50. It is preferred that catcher 160 be used in pairs disposed on opposite sides of a tree so that all fruit falling from the tree will not be damaged by falling directly onto the ground.
FOURTH FORM As illustrated in FIGS. 18 and 19, a fourth form of the invention provides a vehicle having a frame 300 supported on ground engaging wheels 301, some of which are powered by an engine 302 through transmission mechanism, not shown. A flexible fluid impervious membrane 303 is carried by the frame and forms an envelope adapted to confine pressurizing fluid supplied thereto by a blower 304 driven by the engine. A conduit 305 provides fluid communication between the blower and the internal cavity afforded by the membrane 303.
In FIG. 19, the membrane is shown in a distended, or inflated, condition so as to provide an upper surface 306, opposite end walls 307, and opposed side Walls 308. A plurality of bafile walls 309 are extended between the opposite Walls, such as the side walls 308, to provide structural rigidity to the inflated membrane, which is then capable of serving as a decelerating cushion. The baflle Walls are provided with a plurality of ports 310 to establish communication between the several compartments formed in the internal chamber of the membrane by the dividing baffle walls.
A plurality of discharge orifices 311 are provided in the membrane and proportioned to the quantity of fluid in the chamber formed by the distended membrane so that the orifices permit controlled escape of the pressure fluid from the chamber to absorb at least a portion of the kinetic energy of a body having motion relative to the membrane and contacting the inflated cushion. As also illustrated in FIG. 19, one of the orifices 311 provides communication between the internal chamber formed by the membrane 303 and the conduit 305 leading from the blower.
As illustrated in the other forms of the invention, mechanism for controlled exhaust of the pressurizing fluid proportional to the kinetic energy to be absorbed by the cushion is provided in the form of an exhaust valve 312 having a biasing weight 313. The exhaust valve is constructed and arranged in relation to the capacity of the chamber defined by the membrane 303 so that a quantity of pressure fluid is released from the chamber upon contact by the membrane of a falling object illustrated at 314. Accordingly, the fourth form of the invention provides a decelerating catcher to absorb the kinetic energy of the falling body 314 moving relative to the cushion. The energy is absorbed by providing one or more exhaust openings permitting controlled escape of the pressurizing fluid at a quantity and rate proportional to the kinetic energy of the object at the time of impact with the cushion. Accordingly, the energy of the object is transferred to the pressurizing fluid within the chamber and provides a con trolled deceleration, or soft catch, of the falling object 314.
FIFTH FORM As shown in FIG. 20, a fifth form of the invention provides a decelerating cushion for passengers of vehicles, such as automobiles, buses, aircraft, and the like. The vehicle is fragmentarily illustrated as including a frame 320 to which are aflixed several spaced passenger seats 321. The vehicle is intended for a normal travel in a direction. from left to right, as viewed in FIG. 20, and illustrates a passenger 322 in the rearmost seat. The rear face of each seat likely to be contacted by a passenger upon a sudden deceleration of the vehicle is provided with a flexible membrane 323 defining an envelope providing a fluid receiving chamber in fluid communication with a blower 324 by means of a branced conduit 325. An exhaust valve 326 is carried by the vehicle in communication with the chamber defined by each membrane 323, so that a quantity offluid is released from the chamber upon contact of the membrane by the passenger. A biasing weight 327 is secured to the exhaust valve to insure controlled release of the fluid from the chamber so as to absorb at least a portion of the kinetic energy of the passenger at the time of contact, such kinetic energy being present as a result of relative motion between the passenger and the vehicle.
It will be appreciated that a sudden deceleration of the I vehicle will cause relative motion between the occupant and the seat, since the occupant retains the kinetic energy of motion until decelerated by an external force. With the present invention, the kinetic energy of the occupant is absorbed by reason of the quantity of fluid within the chamber of the cushion being accelerated through the exhaust valve so that a controlled release of the fluid is effected, the quantity and rate of release being proportional to the kinetic energy of the passenger at the time of impact.
SIXTH FORM As shown in FIGS. 21 and 22, the decelerating catcher of FIG. 20 is modified to the extent of providing a plurality of orifices to elfect a controlled release of the fluid within the confining chamber. As in the fifth form, a flexible membrane 330 is supported by the seat 33 1 and forms an envelope provided with a plurality of discharge orifices 332. The membrane is distented to an inflated condition by a plurality of spring elements 333 supported on upper and lower mounting lugs 334 and 335-.
As can be seen more clearly in FIG. 22, the lower mounting lug 335 is elevationally adjustable to permit folding of the springs 333 against the rear face of the seat and consequent deflation of themembrane 330. A plurality of bafiie walls 336 are extended between opposite sides of the chamber formed by the membrane 330 and provided with a plurality of ports 337 to establish communication between the compartments formed within the chamber by the walls. As in the fifth form, with the springs maintaining the membrane in a distended condition so as to provide a quantity of pressure fluid within the. chamber defined by the membrane 330', a decelerating catcher is formed to absorb at least a portion of the kinetic energy of a passenger in the vehicle moving relative thereto and contacting the catcher as a result of the relative motion. The discharge orifices 332 are proportioned in relation to the quantity of fluid within the chamber so as to eifect a controlled release of the fluid upon contact by the passenger and thereby absorb the kinetic energy present.
Accordingly, the invention provides a decelerating catcher for moving objects having a determinable quantum of kinetic energy as a result of motion relative to the catcher, regardless of the direction of the line of action of the force acting upon the object and causing the relative motion.
The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described withreference to the several forms of the invention illustrated, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention as claimed.
Having described my invention, what I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent is:
1. A fruit catcher comprising a supporting structure, a flexible, inflatable envelope mounted on the supporting structure adapted to be positioned beneath a tree for receiving and absorbing the impact of fruit falling therefrom, air supply means connected to the cushion and adapted substantially continuously to deliver air thereto at a predetermined pressure and flow rate, continuously at least partially open valve means provided in the envelope continuously to exhaust air therefrom, and biasing means in engagement with said valve means resisting exhaust ,ofsaid air sufliciently to maintain a positive pressure in the cushion.
2. A fruitcatcher in accordance with claim 1, said cushion being of a slowly reacting plastic material for preventing rebounding of the fruit.
3. A fruit catcher comprising a mobile frame, a generally horizontal conveyor on said frame, a pair of inclined wings on the frame on opposite sides of the conveyor and adapted to be positioned beneath a fruit tree for receiving fruit falling therefrom, said wings being spaced from'each other for the passage of the fruit therebetween to the conveyor, said wings includingflexible, inflatable inclined cushions for receiving the fruit and breaking the fall thereof, air supply means carried on the frame and connected to the cushion substantially continuously to deliver air thereto, and gravitationally biased valve means provided in the cushion to effect a controlled rate of air exhaust therefrom.
4-. A fruit catcher comprising an elongated, mobile wheel supported frame, elongated and upwardly-foldable, spaced wings hingedly mounted longitudinally on the frame and adapted to be positioned beneath a fruit tree for receiving falling fruit therefrom, an elongated conveyor mounted longitudinally on the frame between the wings, said wings including elongated, oppositely-inclined, communicating inflatable cushions for receiving the falling fruit and depositing same on the conveyor, a blower connected to one of the cushions for substantially continuously delivering air thereto, and a pressure-responsive exhaust valve in one of said cushions automatically to 13 maintain a predetermined pressure within the cushions and to control the rate of air exhaust therefrom upon impact therewith by falling fruit.
5. A fruit catcher comprising an elevatable supporting structure; a pair of spaced, substantially horizontal fruit conveyors mounted on'said supporting structure; a source of air under pressure mounted on said supporting structure; a plurality of flexible inflatable cushions on the supporting structure connected to and substantially continuously inflated by said source of air, said cushions being adapted to be positioned beneath a tree for receiving and absorbing the impact of fruit falling thereon, certain of said cushions being inclined toward said conveyors so fruit falling thereon will roll onto the conveyors, and certain of said cushions being in partially overlapping spaced relationship so that fruit rolling between the cushions is protected against being damaged by falling fruit, one of said cushions being partitioned into portions, each portion being collapsible when the source of air thereto is withdrawn so the fruit catcher may be positioned relatively closely to the tree, said portions of said one cushion when connected to said source of air and inflated being in snug engagement with the tree; and exhaust valve means in communication with said cushions to maintain air pressure therein at substantially a predetermined level and to exhaust air upon impact of the fruit on said cushions automatically to dissipate the energy received therefrom and minimize rebounding thereof. 7 6. A fruit catcher according to claim 5, wherein said one cushion includes a plurality of spring-loaded baflles which arehingedly connected to a rib and biased toward the collapsed condition of said one cushion, the biased condition of said baflles being overcome by air delivered by said one cushion.
7. A fruit catcher according to claim 5, wherein said i one cushion is connected to said source of air by valvecontrolled conduits, there being a conduit communicating with each partitioned portion of said one cushion.
8. A catcher for moving objects such as falling fruit and the like comprising a flexible substantially fluid impervious element defining a fluid receiving chamber; means connected to the element adapted to supply a continuous flow of pressurizing fluid to said chamber, and means carried by the flexible element affording an exhaust opening permitting continuous controlled escape of said pressurizing fluid at a rate proportioned to said flow rate so that fluid is maintained within said chamber at a positive pressure but permitted to exhaust to dissipate enegry imposed on the element by objects striking the same to cushion such objects and to minimize rebound thereof. i
9. A catcher for moving objects having a finite quantum of kinetic energy comprising a supporting frame; a flexible substantially fluid impervious element carried by the frame and defining a fluid confining chamber; fluid supply means connected to the element continuously to supply pressurizing fluid to said chamber at a predetermined flow rate; and fluid release means carried by said element and adapted continuously to exhaust at a predetermined rate pressurizing fluid from said chamber, said fluid release means being adapted automatically to increase the exhaust rate upon impact of an object on said element to release a volume of fluid proportionate to the kinetic energy of said object at the time of impact,
10. A catcher adapted to effect a controlled deceleration of falling objects striking the same comprising a supporting frame; a pluuality of inflatable cushions formed by respective flexible membrane elements each defining a respective pneumatic chamber; means supporting the cushions in respective inclined positions approaching the horizontal and in partially overlapping spaced relation to permit objects contacting any of said cushions gravitationally to pass between adjacent cushions; air supply means individually connected to said cushions to supply air thereto at a predetermined flow rate; air exhaust means provided on each of said cushions to permit a controlled venting of the air from each of said cushions under static conditions, said exhaust means being adapted to effect venting of additional air at an increased rate upon the imposition of a force against its respective cushion as by contact of its respective cushion by an object striking the same, said additional air being proportional to the kineitc energy of said object at the time of impact with said cushion so that a controlled deceleration of the object is effected.
11. A decelerating catcher for moving objects having a determinable quantum of kinetic energy comprising a flexible substantially fluid impervious element defining a fluid receiving chamber; and means connected in fluid communication with the element continuously to supply a pressurizing fluid to said chamber, said flexible element providing a constricted exhaust opening so that continuous controlled escape of said pressurizing fluid is permitted at a rate such as to maintain a positive pressure in the chamber and upon impact of an object thereagainst at an increased rate proportioned to the kinetic energy of said object at the time of imp-act against the element thereby to absorb at least a portion of said kinetic energy. a
12. A cushioning device comprising a pneumatic envelope adapted to contain a gas and having a constricted orifice therein for the continuous emission of said gas, and means for substantially continuously supplying gas to said envelope to maintain a positive pressure therein to distend the same, said envelope being collapsible upon the application of an external force thereto suflicient to force a portion of the contained gas out of the orifice.
13. An energy absorbing cushion between two objects subjected to relative motion therebetween, at least one of which has a finite mass so that a determinable quantum of kinetic energy is present comprising a flexible substantially fluid impervious element defining a fluid chamber, the element having at least one exhaust orifice provided therein permitting the continuous exhaust of fluid therefrom; and fluid supply means connected to the element continuously to supply pressurizing fluid to said chamber, the orifice being proportioned to the rate of continuous supply of fluid to the chamber so that a positive pressure is maintained in the chamber and the orifice permits increased rate of escape of the fluid from the chamber to' absorb at least a portion of the kinetic energy of one of the objects upon contact with the element as a result of the relative motion.
14. A decelerating catcher for falling objects comprising a mobile supporting frame; a flexible fluid impervious membrane carried by the frame and having opposed side walls defining a fluid confining chamber; a plurality of bafiie walls extended transversely of the chamber between the sidewalls to form a plurality of compartments within the chamber, each of said baffle walls having at least one orifice to provide communication between the separate compartments; and fluid supply means carried on the frame and connected to the membrane continuously to supply pressurizing fluid to said chamber, said membrane having a constricted discharge orifice for the continuous exhaust of fluid from the chamber at a rate in relation to the rate of supply of fluid to the chamber maintaining a positive pressure in the chamber and so that a volume of fluid is released proportionate to the kinetic energy of such an object at the time of impact.
15. A catcher for moving objects having weight and kinetic energy of determinable ranges comprising a flexible pneumatic envelope having a constricted outlet, and means connected to the envelope for continuously supplying air to the envelope at a rate sufficient to maintain a positive pressure therein to distend the same, said positive pressure and volume of the envelope being sufficient in relation to the size of the outlet to absorb the kinetic energy of the moving objects short of complete collapse of the envelope and suflicient again to distend the envelope under the weight of such an object all while continuously discharging air through said outlet.
16. A fruit catcher comprising a supporting structure adapted to be positioned to receive falling fruit thereon, a flexible pneumatic envelope having a constricted ou let and mounted on the supporting structure, and means connected to the pneumatic envelope for continuously supplying air thereto at a rate sufiicient to maintain a positive pressure therein to distend-the same, said positive pressure and volume of the envelope being sufficient in relation to the size of the outlet to absorb the forces imposed thereon by falling fruit short of complete collapse of the envelope and sufficient again to distend the envelope while continuously discharging air through the outlet.
17. The catcher of claim 16 including a flap pendant-1y mounted in covering relation to the outlet pivotal outwardly from the outlet to accommodate increased discharge of air therethrough and gravitationally urged toward the outlet to obstruct air discharged therethrough to expedite subsequent distention of the envelope.
18. A catcher for fragile falling objects adapted to catch and to shield thesame from successively falling such objects comprising a plurality of compressible cushions, means supporting said cushions in approximately horizontal positions in spaced relation to define an object receiving passage thercbetween, said cushions having rupwardly exposed surfaces sloped toward said passage so that such objects roll from the surfaces to said passage for descent therethrough, and means disposed below the cushions in shielded relation thereto and in registry with said passage to receive such objects descending therethrough, said passage when measured in a horizontal plane between said exposed surfaces being narrower than the maximum dimensions of the falling objects to cause said objects to contact said exposed surfaces before proceeding through said passage.
19. A catcher for fragile falling objects adapted to catch and shield the same from successive-1y falling such objects comprising substantially horizontal object receiving means, and a plurality of compressible cushions mounted above the receiving means in partially overlapping spaced relation to define a passage therebetween leading obliquely downwardly to the receiving means, said cushions shielding the receiving means for direct descent of such objects thereto and providing upwardly exposed surfaces sloped toward the passage to facilitate movement of said objects thereto.
20. A catcher for fragile falling objects having weight and kinetic energy of determinable ranges adapted to catch and to shield such objects from successive falling objects comprising a plurality of flexible pneumatic envelopes each communicating with a restricted exhaust opening; means supporting said envelopes in spaced relation to define an object receiving passage therebetween, said envelopes having upwardly exposed surfaces sloped toward said passage so that such objects r011 from the surfaces to said passage for descent thereth-rough; means connected to the envelopes for continuously supply-ing air thereto at a rate suflicient to maintain :a positive pressure in the envelopes to distend the same, said positive pressure and size of the envelopes being suflicient to absorb the kinetic energy of the falling objects short of complete collapse of the envelopes and suflicient again to distend the envelopes while continuously discharging air from the envelopes, and means disposed below the envelopes in shielded relation thereto and in registry with the passage to receive such objects descending therethrough, said passage when measured in a horizontal plane between the exposed surfaces of the envelope being narrower than the maximum dimensions of the falling objects to cause said objects to contact said exposed surfaces before proceeding through said passage.
21. A catcher for fragile falling objects having weight and kinetic energy of determinable range-s adapted to catch and to shield the same from successively falling objects comprising object receiving means, a plurality of flexible pneumatic envelopes each communicating with a constricted exhaust orifice mounted above the receiving means in partially overlapping spaced relationto define a passage therebetween leading obliquely downwardly to the receiving means, said cushions shielding the receiving means from direct descent of such objects thereto and providing upwardly disposed surfaces sloped toward the passage to facilitate movement of said objects to the passage for descent therethrough; and means connected to the envelopes for substantially continuously supplying air thereto at a rate sufficient to maintain a positive pressure therein to distend the same, said positive pressure and volume of the envelopes being suflicient in relation to the size of the envelopes to absorb the kinetic energy of the falling objects short of complete collapse of the envelopes and suflicient again to distend the envelopes as such objects descend into the passage.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS ABRAHAM G. STONE, Primary Examiner.
RUSSELL KINSEY, Examiner.