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Publication numberUS3906439 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 16, 1975
Filing dateMar 18, 1974
Priority dateMar 18, 1974
Publication numberUS 3906439 A, US 3906439A, US-A-3906439, US3906439 A, US3906439A
InventorsHopla Doyle L
Original AssigneeHopla Doyle L
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Traffic control system for converging lanes, such as when boarding a ski lift
US 3906439 A
Abstract
A traffic control system for use where several lanes converge into a single lane, as, for example for boarding a ski lift having a series of chairs and a loading station. A series of waiting lines terminates at a location adjacent the loading station, and there is a GO signal or a STOP-AND-GO signal for each line at its termination point. The signals are so controlled according to this invention that the GO signal is displayed for one line at a time, and that the GO signal is advanced serially from line to line in endless repetitive cycle, all lines except the one showing the GO signal either having no signal or showing a STOP signal. The signal advance cycle is actuated by a system relying for operation on the arrival of a chair at a predetermined location where it actuates a switch. The system may also be present in other similar situations.
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1451 Sept. 16, 1975 United States Patent 1191 Hopla a m m .w c g M um n U a 4 m m w m a X 8 E 6 m n P TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEM FOR CONVERGING LANES, SUCH AS WHEN BOARDING A SKI LIFT [76] Inventor:

Doyle L HoPla 8O! Sperry Ave. Attorney, Agent, or FirmOwen, Wickersham & Patterson, Calif, 95363 Erlckso" 221 Filed: Mar. 18, 1974 ABSTRACT App]. No: 451,981

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be present in other similar situations.

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system may also FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 535,709

4/1941 United Kingdom.....,... 340/35 6 Claims 4 Drawmg figures PATENTEB SEP] 8 I975 SHEET 1 AF 3 TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEM FOR CONVERGING LANES, SUCH AS WHEN BOARDING A SK] LIFT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a trafiic control system for enabling orderly converging of several lanes into a single lane. For example, it may be used in conjunction with the boarding of a ski lift.

In winter resorts having ski lifts there tends to be a scramble for the chairs, or else there tends to be a slowing down of operations in order to provide a single queue. At the loading stations there are frequently several lines or queues, in order that people can move quickly as the ski chairs come into position. However, without some governing indication, there tends to be uncertainty as to who should go next, and this either slows down the operation or lets some people take unfair advantage of others. An expedient frequently adopted by the resorts to avoid these problems is to have a person stand as a monitor adjacent the loading station and designate which people are to come next. This gets to be expensive. One purpose of the present invention is to provide an orderly substitute for an individual monitor.

Similar situations may exist where automobiles enter or leave a large crowded area, such as a parking lot, especially for timed events such as sports contests.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides for an orderly progression from a plurality of waiting lines to a single line, such as several lines of skiers waiting for the chairs of the ski lift. It does this by providing a signal for each of the several lines or queues that terminate at or near the station where the chairs are loaded. preferably, the sig nals are illuminated. They may be like traffic lights, having red and green signals, or may have only a suitable GO signal. For ski lifts they are preferably placed in overhead locations supported by a suitable portable stand. However, other arrangements may be made. The preference for overhead signals and portable supporting stands derives in part from the fact that most ski lifts are only used for a portion of the year, and it is desirable to have equipment that can be readily moved and can be stored between seasons.

The signals are provided with signal control systems that cause a G signal (e.g., a green light) to be displayed for only one queue at a time. This GO signal is advanced from queue to queue in endlessly repetitive cycle. All the queues not displaying a GO signal may either display no signal or may display a STOP signal. Thus, for example, supposing that there are four queues, a green light may be displayed for queue one, be shifted to queue two, then to queue three, and then to queue four, and then back to queue one.

Actual advance is actuated, preferably, by some factor related to movement from the elected lane; for example, for a ski lift, the arrival ofa chair at a predetermined location may actuate a mechanical switch, a magnetic switch, or a lightactuated switch.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will appear from a description of a preferred form thereof. It will be understood that there may be many changes in such a system as to the type of signal employed, type of circuit used for the signal control, and so on.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a view in perspective of a loading station at the lower end of a ski lift showing some ski lift chairs, four aisles defining four waiting lines or queues, and a signal system embodying the principles of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a view in front elevation of a stand carrying the signals and the signal control system.

FIG. 3 is an electrical circuit diagram of a control circuit suitable for use in the present invention where both red and green lights are used.

FIG. 4 is a modified form ofelectrical circuit diagram for a control circuit having only green lights.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SOME PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Ski lifts are well known and only a portion ofa ski lift is shown in the drawings. Here there is an end wheel 10 for a cable 11 which supports a series of ski lift chairs 12, 12a, [2b, etc., by means of bars or rods 13, 13a, l3b, etc. It is immaterial for the purposes of the invention whether the cable 11 moves continuously or intermittently, though intermittent operation is more common. Also, the chairs 12, 120, I211, etc., may be replaced by cabins or individual stands or whatever may be desired. The chairs 12, etc., are to be loaded at the loading station, and for the purposes of actuation, some sort of switch means is provided which is engaged by the chairs or by a member associated with them. FIG. 1, by way of example, shows a mechanically actuated switch 14 having an actuating arm 15 located adjacent to the wheel 10 supported by a standard 16 that supports the wheel 10, and it is engaged by the bars or rods 13, etc. However, the switch may be actuated by photoelectric or magnetic means or other suitable means and may be located elsewhere, so long as it insures that each time a ski lift chair 12, 12a, l2b, etc., passes a certain location, there will be an actuation. Barriers 17 may define a plurality of lanes A, B, C, and D in which the skiers wait for the arrival of the chairs 12, etc.

A signal system is provided by an assembly 20 which preferably comprises a central supporting portable stand 21 with a top cross arm 22 carrying four signal lights 23, 24, 25, and 26. Each of these four lights has a G0 signal (23G, 24G, 25G, and 260 in FIG. 3) and a STOP signal (23R, 24R, 25R, and 26R in FIG. 3), which may be a green light for GO and a red light for STOP, or other symbolism may be used. The use of the central stand 21 is preferable, but if desired, the stand may have two supporting arms spaced apart with the cross arm member 21 (or a member generally like it) bridging between the supporting arms, if that be desired. There is also a signal control circuit 30, which may be mounted on top of the stand 21 (or may be mounted on a separate stand, if desired). The control circuit 30 is connected by a cable 31 to the actuation switch 14, the cable 31 being buried under the snow where appropriate. If the signal control circuit 30 is supported by a separate stand (not shown), it may be also connected by a second buried cable to the stand 21. The cable 31 goes up to the control unit 30, and then the circuits go through the cross arm 22 to the signal lights 23, 24, 2S, and 26. A suitable source of power is obtainable, usually from the ski lift itself, since it will be operated by the same power.

The control circuit 30 is acutated each time a chair 12, etc, passes the actuating arm 15, and the switch I4 acts to advance the GO signal so that only one GO signal is displayed at a time and so that the GO signal is advanced serially and repetitively from queue to queue. so that the people in each queue have a fair opportunity to board a chair.

Various control circuits 30 are feasible; FIG. 3 shows such a circuit 30, while FIG. 4 shows a different circuit 30A. The circuit 30 of FIG. 3 is a solid state circuit in which each of the signal lamps is controlled by an individual transistor and in which logic means are interposed between the actuation means and the power means and the signal lamps. The control circuit 30 is shown designed for operation by either of two power sources--a l2-volt direeteurrent source 32 or a ll7- volt alternating-current source 33. The AC circuit includes a transformer 34 to supply IO-volt current and a rectifier 35 to convert the lO-volt AC to lO-volt DC. So either power source supplies IO-volt DC in the long run. Terminals A and B shown above the bridge rectifier 35 are the same as the terminals A and B on the switch 14. Moreover, a portion of the lO-volt DC is reduced in voltage and regulated by a Zener diode 36 and by a capacitor 37 and a Darlington transistor pair 38 to give a supply 40 of regulated -volt DC.

The microswitch 14, when actuated, discharges a capacitor 4l (which may be a 100 mf condenser), and this fires a one-shot multivibrator 42 into an OR gate 43. The OR gate 43 fires a flip-flop in a binary counter 45. The counter 45 counts pulses, eoverts them into a four-wire binary code, and sends a signal to a four-bit binary-to-decimal convertor 46, to which it is connected by several leads, including a binary reset lead 44. From the convertor 46 signals go to OR gates 47a, 47b, 47c, 47d, 47c, 47], 47g, and 47/1. These drive lamp drive transistors 48a, 48b, 48c, 48d, 480, 48f, 48g, and 48h, which in turn drive the lamps 23G, 23R, 24G, 24R, G, 25R, 266, and 26R.

The gate 43 blocks the trigger signal from the oneshot multivibrator 42 during an all-red or all-green situation so that light position will not change during either of these conditions.

Thus, each time a chair bar 13, 13a, I317, etc., trips the switch 14, the green light advances, as from 236 to 24G or from 246 to 250 and so on, and the red lights are activated so that when 236 is lighted, 24R, 25R, and 26R are all lighted; when 240 is lighted, 23R, 25R, and 26R are lighted, and so on, cyclically and repetitively.

FIG. 4 shows a circuit A for use where no red lights are desired. Some skiers dont like to be reminded of automobile traffic lights. The system of FIGS. 1 and 2 is then modified to have only one light at each lane, a light which is either GO (e.g., green) or dark.

The circuit 30A is designed for operation on either AC or DC power, e.g., at 12 volts, which is applied to the bridge rectifier 35, so that polarity can be disregarded; a class-2 supply line can be used. The Zener diode 36, capacitor 37, and Darlington transistor pair 38 are the same as in FIG. 3. Terminals A, B, and C shown near the transistor pair 38 are the same as, or are connected directly to, the corresponding terminal A (lower right), B, and C (upper left). The capacitor 4], one-shot multivibrator 42, OR gate 43, binary counter 45, and binary-to-decimal convertor 46, are again used. The convertor 46 drives the gates 500, b, c, and d, here shown in box form, which drive drive gates Slu, h, c', and d, that drive invertors 52a, b, c, and d. The invertors 52a, h, c, and d, in turn drive transistors 53a, 53b, 53c, and 53d. The transistors 53a, 53b, 53c, and 53d drive monitor lamps 54a, 54b, 54c, and 54d. These monitor lamps 54a, 54b, 54c, and 54d may be mounted in the standard 21 to face the operator, so that he knows what is happening. They are concealed from the persons in the waiting lines A, B, C, and D (See FIGS. I and 2), The monitor lights, being separated from the main lights can be placed anywhere desired, so that the lift operators can be aware of what the signals are. The gates a, b, c, d and 510, b, c, d, also provide for allgreen or all-off conditions. A signal causing an allgreen or all-off condition also inhibits the gates 50a, b, c, d, which inhibits the trigger to the binary counter 45.

The outputs of the gates 510, b, c, d, also drive gates 550, h, c, d, which, in turn, drive transistors 56a, 56b, 56c, and 56d, and these transistors drive the main signal lamps 57a, 57b, 57c, and 57d.

The gates a, b, 0,11, can inhibit the main lamps 57a, 57b, 57c, and 5711 to cause them to flash or to cause them to turn off after a set time (e.g., 2-12 seconds) or to both flash and then turn off. Thus, a unijunction oscillator 60 has an output sent to a flip-flop in the binary counter 45 to provide a square wave output. This flipflop in turn alternately opens and inhibits the gates 550, h, c, d, causing the main lights 57a, 57b, 57c, and 57d to flash. The flashing function can be inhibited by a switch 61. For timing, each time the one-shot multivibrator 42a is triggered, a one-shot multivibrator 42b is also triggered. Its output width is adjustable to determine the on-time for the main lamps 57a, 57b, 57c, 57d, whichever one is on.

A switch 62 is provided for manual operation by the persons who supervises the loading. The switch 62 enables him to provide an all-green signal when there is little or no traffic and an alloff condition, as when there is trouble and no one is to move to the left.

To those skilled in the art to which this invention relates, many changes in construction and widely differing embodiments and applications of the invention will suggest themselves without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The disclosures and the description herein are purely illustrative and are not intended to be in any sense limiting.

I claim:

1. A traffic control system for controlling boarding of a ski lift, including in combination:

a ski lift having a series of moving spaced apart skier lift means and a loading station by which each said skier lift means passes,

marker means for queuing skiers awaiting a lift into a plurality of separate lanes terminating at a location adjacent said loading station,

means for displaying a G0 signal for each said lane positioned viewably adjacent the termination thereof,

signal control means for displaying the GO signal for one late at a time only and for advancing the GO signal from lane to lane in a controlled endlessly repetitive cycle, and

display advance actuation means connected to said signal control means and actuated by the arrival of a skier lift means at a predetermined location for causing said signal control means to advance said GO signal.

2. The traffic control system of claim 1 having monitor lights facing away from said signals for displaying to ski-lift operating personnel what the signals display, said monitor lights being connected to said signal con trol means for displaying indications corresponding to those of said signal means.

3. A traffic control system for boarding a ski lift. including in combination:

a ski lift having a series of chairs and a loading station.

a series of waiting lanes terminating at a location adjacent said loading station.

a STOP-AND-GO signal display unit for each said lane at the termination thereof.

signal control means connected to each said display unit for displaying the GO signal for one lane at a time, for advancing the GO signal from lane to lane in endlessly repetitive cycle, and for causing all lane display units except the one displaying a G0 signal to display a STOP signal. and

actuation means actuated by the arrival of a chair at a predetermined location for causing said signal control means to advance said GO signal 4. A signal system for use in controlling the traffic where several lanes of skiers converge on a ski lift chair boarding station, including in combination:

a G0 signal indicator for each of a series of lanes signal control means connected to each said indicator for l displaying only one said GO signal at a time, and (2) advancing said GO signal from lane to lane in endlessly repetitive cycle, and

actuation means for causing said signal control means to advance said GO signal. said actuation means being adapted for actuation by movement of chairs of said ski lift relative to a predetermined location 5. The signal system of claim 4 including a monitor means connected to said signal control means for displaying to supervisory personnel signals corresponding to what is being displayed by said signals.

6. A signal system for use in controlling the traffic where several lanes of skiers converge on a ski lift chair boarding station, including in combination:

a STOP-AND-GO signal indicator for each of a series of lanes,

signal control means connected to each said indicator for l displaying one said GO signal at a time while displaying the STOP signal at all other lanes and (2) advancing said GO signal from lane to lane in endlessly repetitive cycle and actuation means for causing said signal control means to advance said GO signal and adapated for actuation by movement of chairs of said ski lift relative to a predetermined location.

UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION PATENT N0. 3 ,906 r39 DATED September 16, 1975 INVENTOR(S) I Doyle L, Hopla it is terrified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shnwn beIow:

Column 1, line 36, "preferably" should read --Preferably-. Column 4, line 10, "separated" should read --separate-. Column line 61, which is line 13 of claim 1, "one late at a time" should read --one lane at a time--.

Signed and Scaled this thirtieth Day of mm 1975 [SEAL] A ttest:

RUTH C. MASON C. IAISIIALI. DANN Arresting Officer (nmmiuium'r of hunts and Trademarks

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4059821 *Sep 8, 1976Nov 22, 1977Nicholls Joseph ATraffic signal controller flasher for pedestrian clearance
US5115179 *Sep 30, 1988May 19, 1992Hitachi, Ltd.Portable teaching apparatus
US8528485 *Jun 15, 2011Sep 10, 2013Innova Patent GmbhCableway system for conveying skiers and illuminating indicator strip
US20120103226 *Jun 15, 2011May 3, 2012Innova Patent GmbhCableway system for conveying skiers and illuminating indicator strip
EP0287868A2 *Mar 30, 1988Oct 26, 1988Peter BischoferMethod and device for monitoring the alighting area of a ski lift
EP0287868A3 *Mar 30, 1988Mar 15, 1989Peter BischoferMethod and device for monitoring the alighting area of a ski lift
EP1101681A1 *Nov 20, 2000May 23, 2001Adour Vision System (Société à Responsabilité Limitée)Safety device for a powered cable conveyor, especially for the transport of persons
Classifications
U.S. Classification340/332, 340/928, 104/173.2
International ClassificationB61B12/00, G08G1/07, B61B12/02
Cooperative ClassificationB61B12/022, G08G1/075
European ClassificationB61B12/02B, G08G1/07B