Remember those Toyota commercials wondering whether Prius hybrid technology could be implemented in an amusement park? Toyota recently teamed up with Pittsburgh-based engineering group Deeplocal, Inc. to build a small-scale model of a hybrid roller coaster.
As the video shows, Deeplocal engineers took apart a 2010 Toyota Prius to see whether its Hybrid Synergy Drive could capture energy lost when braking a roller coaster train. In theory, such a system could generate electricity to power lighting or other attractions at an amusement park; When slowing a roller coaster or similar ride, the ride’s kinetic energy could be converted to usable electricity, rather than wasted as heat in traditional braking systems.
Deeplocal’s demonstration roller coaster sent the Prius down a 10-foot drop, accelerating it to about 15 mph. The company found that applying the Prius’s brakes generated 30 amps of electricity — as much as 6000 watts of energy for each run. How much work does 6000 watts do? Deeplocal claims that a set of amusement park lights, like those seen in its film, require about 5000 watts to light them.
Unfortunately, the lights seen glowing in the video weren’t actually illuminated by the Hybrid Synergy Drive — Deeplocal said safety and engineering concerns prevented a direct connection, so the video is just a simulation of the power production. Still, the company says its test proved that a roller coaster regen braking system could help reduce an amusement park’s energy consumption.
The video is part of Toyota’s Ideas for Good campaign, which lets people submit their ideas for adapting Toyota technology to other uses. People can vote for their favorite ideas through April 30. The winning ideas will be announced May 9 and may be built in real life, like this roller coaster demonstration.