Escalator Invention in the Running for LEGO League Championship

A recent article from Louisville, Kentucky’s WAVE 3 News is about a sharp team of fourth- through sixth-grade students in a local robotics program who aim to make escalators more accessible to those who can’t see well. The Good Vibrations invention uses a transducer to produce vibrations on escalator steps so riders can feel where they are.

Portland Christian School’s first LEGO League team “is causing a stir in the robotics world,” the source says. 11-year-old programmer Lydia Kratt inspired her five fellow members to help those like a friend of hers with disabilities overcome fears of escalators. They’re in the process of patenting the device for such public places as churches, airports and malls. They ranked third of 49 teams across Kentucky, earning an invitation to the national competitions. They also won first place for a LEGO League Global Innovation award, which recognizes the best project ideas most likely to be implemented.

The sight impaired traditionally use elevators for vertical transportation, where Braille is common. Is it a great idea for them to use escalators, too? Check out the video included in the link above to see how the device works and what the inventors have to say about it.

Some Say He’s Still There …

In the wild, often wonderful world of Reddit, there’s a subreddit page titled Maybe Maybe Maybe that shares a stream of videos, which ALL must be titled Maybe Maybe Maybe, showing gifs of situations such as people narrowly escaping collisions with vehicles (or not), nailing that dramatic gymnastics trick (or not) and, of course, plenty of situations cats, dogs and other animals get themselves into. Occasionally, vertical transportation is involved, such as this one in which a cat makes it way down — but not all the way down — an upward-moving escalator. As is often the case with Reddit, the best parts are in the Comments. On this one, one commenter cleverly remarked, “Some say he’s still there,” presumably continuously trying to reach his destination. It also includes remarks about pets and elevator/escalator safety, pointing out that cats and dogs should be carried on escalators, if they are on them at all. Let’s hope this little guy (or gal) made it out of this situation OK!

Escalators: CGI Animation Shows How They Work

Jared Owens uses computer-generated animation (CGI) to show how things work. Escalators are one of his latest topics, and the video he narrates is clear and informative — ideal for children and even adult professionals who want to brush up on their vertical-transportation knowledge. In the video, he provides a brief history of escalators and how the technology evolved, and describes different equipment configurations and the reasons for them. Check it out and get an inside, up-close look at components like step chains, track systems, gears, roller chains and handrails, and they all fit together like a puzzle to enhance efficiency and promote safety. More of Owens’ work can be found on his YouTube channel.