In an earlier entry we looked at inflatable airplane slides, which are designed to allow passengers to safely descend from a couple of stories in height. But what about when the distances are greater? For that there are escape chutes.
The central design challenge with an escape chute is how to arrest gravity to modulate the escapees' speed, so that you don't have people breaking their legs at the bottom and/or piling up on top of each other. What's interesting are the different approaches by which companies try to tackle this. The Ingstrom Escape Chute, for example, works by pure friction:The Axel Thoms fire escape chute, which can stretch a staggering 80 meters in length, uses a spiral construction inside to slow people down as they descend. (My tendency to get dizzy, combined with my fear of heights, means I would definitely fill this chute with vomit.)
By far the craziest-looking approach we've seen is this Viking Escape Chute designed for offshore oil rigs. The deployment is pretty cool (if somewhat...measured in pace, for an emergency) but once the evacuation begins, you don't have to watch for very long before you spot the design issue. (Warning: Turn your sound down, annoying soundtrack ahead.)
All I could think while watching these is that...how to put this delicately... perhaps these are not quite sized for the average American. Not to worry, though: We Yanks have our own Escape Chute. Thing is, it's a ride at Six Flags.
[Cue mournful, descending trumpet music.]