Free-running and parkour are different from other sports because of their practice. One may simply gear up and start bating and bowling in cricket. There is no threat to life and a practice session/match can even closely imitate a real scenario of the game. The same applies to all other sports with an exception of gymnastics. And even in gymnastics, there is a mattress available besides other safety measures. Parkour is different. It is learned out there in the street with no room for mistake. Surely, one starts out slow and performs all kinds of workout. But the actual site to perform a maneuver carries myriad of other factors. Adaptability and improvisation are seminal to parkour but in a mistake, can cost life even. A safety guard is needed for the performer. The guard should enable him/her to practice on tall builds and dense urban fabric without fear of falling. Yet, the gear should not interfere with performer’s maneuverability and ergonomics.
Solution in Nature
A lot of animals have evolved strategies, both deliberate and reflex, to cope with the problem of falling from a height. Much bio-mimetic research has been done on the movement of falling bodies of different animals such as cat. But the challenge aims at finding an additional system, sort of an appendage which does not interfere with the natural locomotion of organism. The solution was found in an insect known as pea aphid. Every time this tiny soldier falls of a leaf, its appendages reorient themselves mid-air in direction of the ground and it falls on its back. When it hits the ground, its appendages not only absorb the impact but turn the aphid over in an instant. A similar protective gear in principle, would be most suitable for free-runners because it would end all their fears without having them to compromise on perform.
Row1Column1: Closeup of Pea Aphid
Row1Column2: Dark Bands on Pea Aphid Antennae
Row1Column3: Robo-Mate Exoskeleton
Row1Column4: A Tenth of Weight Felt in Exoskeleton
Row2Column1: The Concept of Doctor Octopus
Row2Column2: Micro Robotic Tentacles for Handling Delicate Objects
Row2Column3: Omni-Guard Airbag Suit
Row2Column4: Fall-Protection Safety Suit
Row3Column1: Shape-Memory Alloys
Row3Column2: Magnetorheological Fluids
Row3Column3: MagneRide Suspension
Row3Column4: Calibration of Gyroscope in a Smart Phone
Row4Column1: Physics behind Levitron
Row4Column2: Lady Gaga’s Orbit Suit
Row4Column3: An Example of Body Harness Ergonomics
Row4Column4: Aeotrim (An Early Example of Gyrogym)
After going through several examples of exoskeleton structures it is concluded that:
1. A major system of exoskeleton systems design its command and control. Installing an ability to operate the exoskeleton gear manifests itself in a bulk of equipment. The protection gear therefore should be a pre-configured, autonomous and featherweight system.
2. It should be able to read the geometries of its surrounding environment on its own (like a gyroscope) and it should be able to differentiate human flesh from built environment.
3. The guard should have its default condition to which it spontaneously restores allowing a swift human movement. It should only become active (and provide a cushion like aphid’s appendages) when the back of human body approaches ground surface at a dangerous speed, or when human body falling from a great height could use some assistance in rolling over at the point of impact (like an aphid)