Make Way for the Man Cannon!

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I hate Big Government, but I love wacky gadgets. Meet DARPA's latest, the Man Cannon. It

consists of a forward-facing chair mounted on rails that point at an angle of up to 80 [degrees]. Powered by compressed air, the foolhardy "payload" would shoot up until the saddle reaches the end of the rails, at which point he would flail free skyward.

The application is extremely detailed, with proposals for computer control, feedback mechanisms, and valve pneumatics….the designers reckon a four metre high launcher could put a man on the top of a five storey building in less than two seconds.

Here's the patent, in case you want to build your own, in blatant violation of patent law.

[Hat tip: Jim Mason]

NEXT: GOP Senate: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Especially If the Fences Keep Out Mexicans.

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  1. Okay, I read this and said, “HUH? WTF?”

    Then I RTFA, and saw:

    …designed to hurl SWAT teams and other emergency workers onto the roofs of inaccessible tall buildings human cannonball style…”

    Oh. Okay. I’ve got nothing against “other emergency workers,” but they can do this to as many SWAT teams as they want.

  2. This is another one of those stories that gives me the feeling that if I want serious news I’m going to just have to stick to reading The Onion.

  3. Frickin’ AWESOME!

  4. It would be even more entertaining if they missed the top of the building.

  5. I am sure that it will be as successful as the nuclear rifle.

  6. I think the basis for the “man cannon” patent is on shakey legal ground. I have prior art… in my pants!

  7. If I had one of these, it would take me about two hours tops to get arrested. The thought of flinging rotting food and old furniture onto people’s houses would just be too much to pass up.

  8. First thing I thought was, “monkey fishing!”. …the next thing I thought was, “how do I get one of these?”

  9. So DARPA is basically the Q section from the Bond movies?

  10. If the trajectory is plotted just right, consider that at the top of the arc verticle speed goes to zero, the drop to the roof could be the equivelent of five feet. With the lateral speed figured in, the human projectile could be trained to tuck and roll for a landing with just a few bruises and no broken bones.

    I think they should find some willing ATF guys to test it out on.

  11. So which defense contractor came up with this? ACME? Was Wile E. Coyote (super genius)the test pilot?

  12. They should test it out with the remote-controlled sharks– just imagine Osama and crew, holed up in a Chicago Apartment complex, chuckling about how they were finally safe from the DoD, then (cue jaws music). . .

  13. Actually, it appears the evil genius behind this was Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway.

  14. I see this as a dual-use product–it would make for excellent handicap access to small tenement buildings.

  15. f I had one of these, it would take me about two hours tops to get arrested. The thought of flinging rotting food and old furniture onto people’s houses would just be too much to pass up.

    Heh. That reminds me of the “yardapult” 🙂

  16. 1) I smell a Mythbusters episode in this. Poor Buster.

    2) So is it called the Mannon?

    /Obvious-Puns-R-Us

  17. I see this as a dual-use product–it would make for excellent handicap access to small tenement buildings.

    Too funny! Brilliant idea but for the inconvenient fact that the er, ok tomWright, Mannon, is a one-way solution. Going up is easy; coming down – not so much.

  18. Brian,

    How about a bungee cord set up that is calculated to gently set the person down, then release?

  19. How about a bungee cord set up that is calculated to gently set the person down, then release?

    NoStar,

    Not bad… Not only functional, but your plan has the added benefit of helping to fight the growing national scourge of handicapped obesity. Gain 5 pounds and you get a mild rebuke. Gain 20 pounds you get a sharp kick in the ass. 🙂

    Of course, now that I think about it, if you lose 20 pounds you’re left swinging in the breeze so maybe it needs a little re-thinking…

  20. As one of the few token women here, I have to say:
    Man Cannon is the sexiest weapon EVER.

    Just thinking about it makes me weak in the knees!

  21. I looked at the drawing, and the occupant appears to be launched head first, making landing really awkward. All I could think of was how horrible it would be to be trapped on the top of a building and have my putative rescuer splattered onto the roofing, head first. Talk about adding insult to injury. Until then, I think DARPA could make some extra bucks by selling designs like this to late night comedians.

  22. Man cannon, meet border fence…

  23. I looked at the drawing, and the occupant appears to be launched head first, making landing really awkward.

    Actually, the person isn’t fired head-long like a circus cannon, but rather the idea seems to be to lift him in a standing position like an invisible (and parabolic) escalator. If done correctly, as NoStar pointed out above (i.e. correct vertical velocity so the human-projectile comes to a stop at the correct roof-top height and a horizontal velocity large enough that he doesn’t come straight back down yet small enough that he doesn’t go flying across the roof), they should be able to almost step onto the roof, somewhat like stepping off an escalator.

  24. Is the national guard going to use these along the border to “return” our guest workers who overstay?

  25. After re-reading my post it occurred that a much easier way to explain how it is supposed to work. Imagine jumping up onto, say, a chair or a table-top. In principle there is no reason you couldn’t jump up onto a roof in the same way; just the practical problem that your legs aren’t strong enough to impart the required vertical velocity. That’s where the Man Cannon (are you swooning linguist?) comes in.

    In other words the Man Cannon (control yourself!) is designed simply to enhance a man’s natural abilities… 😉

  26. Tallocaust meet funnelator.

  27. Could this be adapted for my front steps? Then when the nice church people knock on my door I could just toss them across the street into the neighbors yard.

  28. And if the roof isn’t sound? Oops.

  29. Only high-caliber personages would be cannon fodder here, but not too high caliber, or else they will not go far.

    Does anyone else here recall Evil Knievel’s televised murdercycle launch across the Grand Canyon?
    It bore resemblence to Geraldo Rivera’s televised bursting through into the long-hidden chamber.

  30. Ruthless,

    Snake River, but yeah.

  31. They just have to watch out that they don’t launch the guy through a stream of that super-slippery riot control gunk they invented.

    It’d kinda suck to land on top of the building, but not be able to stop yourself from sliding off the other side.

  32. Next up: Sharks with laser beams on their foreheads to patrol the Rio Grande.

  33. OK, it has to be said…

    It’s raining men, Hallelujah!

  34. Tallocaust meet funnelator.

    Fantastic! Too bad I’m a poor college student. I’m taking donations.

  35. They should test it out with the remote-controlled sharks– just imagine Osama and crew, holed up in a Chicago Apartment complex, chuckling about how they were finally safe from the DoD, then (cue jaws music). . .

    Er, we couldn’t get sharks. We have … sea bass.

    They are mutant sea bass.

  36. Air cannon? Ever heard of goddamned tramampoline?

  37. This clearly is an easy topic for mockery, but the calculations for the amount of force to impart in order to ensure the projectile lands softly on the roof are trivial. It would be very easy to adjust the cannon to account for varying weight payloads.

    The bigger problems to overcome are misfires and training the “projectiles.”

  38. It’s not a violation of patent law to build a patented device, only to profit from selling one.

    Just in case that was what was standing in the way of you bulding one.

  39. This freakin’ rocks the house.

    Technology rules.

    I was promised Nuclear Cars, Coilguns and Man Cannons in the near future, and dammit I want them all.

  40. Can this be used for commuting?

  41. In other words the Man Cannon (control yourself!) is designed simply to enhance a man’s natural abilities…

    So does it make the noise the $6 Million Man makes when you are catapulted?

  42. Can this be used for commuting?

    PL, keep the good ideas under your hat for now in case you decide to file that method claim yourself.

  43. Dave, there’s probably already a patent on ballistic transport. I’ll make my money in cool leather jackets, made especially for cannon commuting.

  44. BarryJV: u need a patent lawyer even worse than PL!

    Da law:

    “[W]hoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States . . . infringes the patent.” (emphasis added)

  45. I went to try to confirm that for ya, PL, but the USPTO search site said “maximum number of users reached.”

    Darn that Bill Clinton, pulling money out of the patent office for the general weal!

  46. Here we go:

    http://tinyurl.com/qybr5

    Don’t think it say nothing about commuting though.

  47. For the mildly to non interested. Getting to the rooftop on a raid is a problem swat has to deal with. Our current model is this thing they call The Ladder. It is, well, a ladder.

    Some of the guys at the firearms training center I go to every year do cross training in eastern europe. They found out what the spetsnatz do last year. Our russian friends take a long pole and place it at the foot of the structure, leaning it away from the wall and anchored by team members. A guy in full gear runs straight at the wall, grabbing the pole on the way. He picks his feet up and runs up the wall while holding onto the pole. In my head, they are all wearing big shoes and clown noses …

  48. Oh, yeah: nice Harvey Birdman reference. That got a hearty laugh on both obscurity and aptness.

  49. Catapults, Dave? I’m talking cannons–completely different. Please file for me, with the proceeds from my enormous revenues to go to Reason to buy a new server 🙂

  50. Will file as soon as your check clears, PL. Always good doing business. We should have the first Office Action in about 4 years.

  51. KyleG:Air cannon? Ever heard of goddamned tramampoline?

    Steady on, old boy. Let’s get it working on people first before we try it on trams.

    It’s a nice thought, but a bit bulky – I’m sure SWAT would be happier with jump packs.

  52. Prior art! Prior art! Wile E. Coyote shot himself out of the cannon at least once…

    …or there is that 1930’s movie “Tsyrk” (The Circus), where they actually shot a live actress (was it Lyubov’ Orlova?) out of a cannon.

  53. Cynical Bastard:

    If these references weren’t “enabling,” then they ain’t prior art.

  54. People out of cannons, sure. But people out of cannons as method for commuting? I doubt it.

    That Wile E. Coyote sure is some kind of supergenius. If I’m ever Bill Gates rich or better, I’m buying the rights to the Road Runner-Coyote characters and doing a movie with the ending EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD wants to see. I mean I friggin’ HATE the Roadrunner.

  55. People out of cannons, sure. But people out of cannons as method for commuting? I doubt it.

    That Wile E. Coyote sure is some kind of supergenius. If I’m ever Bill Gates rich or better, I’m buying the rights to the Road Runner-Coyote characters and doing a movie with the ending EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD wants to see. I mean I friggin’ HATE the Roadrunner.

  56. Ever heard of goddamned tramampoline?

    For safety’s sake, just in case he misses the jump, we should be standing by with a muh’fuckin’ bambulance.

    http://www.9-1-1magazine.com/FeatureDetail.asp?ArticleID=291

  57. I’m sorry, I thought this was the gay male video section of the site. damn misleading titles…

  58. Dave W.

    Da law:

    “[W]hoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States . . . infringes the patent.” (emphasis added)

    By that definition if e.g. Sony loses the patent battle over the use of force-feedback technology, everyone who bought a PS3 will be guilty of patent infringement, not just the company that made and sold it. Does that sound likely to you?

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