Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Discussion about ways to make the sport safer and discussion of past injuries so we can learn how to avoid them in the future.
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Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby Creech » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:51 am

Hello all,

I am a senior mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech currently working on a pole vault safety system in conjunction with engineers at National Instruments. As far as our background research has shown, the current market for safety (most importantly, safety within the box) in pole vaulting is a pretty wide open field few effective competitors. Currently however, we are conducting market research on the actual need for safety equipment. Though our prototype will be created no matter the outcome, we are looking for data such as:
- Does anyone actually want a new safety product?
- What would be a reasonable price point?
- Where would the customers be located? (We assume our customers would be either universities or high schools, but want to know whether there are certain pockets of pole vaulting enthusiasts in different parts of the country/world.)

As far as the actual design of the safety system, it will consist of either thick foam mats or airbags that are deployed within the box. The system will be automated so that it only fires when it has determined that the pole vaulter is not going to make the jump AND is not going to land on an already existing mat. It will reset quickly so as not to affect the pace of a competition/practice. The determination of the vaulter's success will be made through various sensors and cameras that National Instruments produces.

Any feedback on the viability of the idea or interest in a safety device for pole vaulting would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Creech

UPDATE:
Our final prototype is now finished, and is showcased in the videos below. Since this is just a prototype and the budget was limited, some pieces of the prototype would be different for a final design. Right now, a switch must be flipped to change the motor direction and unwind the retraction cord, this would be done automatically in the future. The switch to begin retraction would most likely continue to be manual, but would be elongated to be outside of the pit so a coach or fellow vaulter could hit it once the vault is complete.

A summary of the processes: a laser trip sensor checks when the pole clears the back of the box, a motion sensor checks to see that the area immediately in front of the deployment area is clear, the device fires, a manual switch is pressed to begin retraction, manual switch hit to change motor direction, cord unwinds, and program is running constantly so the device is ready to fire again immediately. From firing to being ready for the next vaulter is a time of 26.8 seconds.

Any feedback or opinions on the product would be valued!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4eVUzbu-qM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS90rWqeLZI

Sorry, couldn't figure out how to embed. If anyone is interested, you can contact Sam Strickling at sam.strickling@ni.com for more information.
Last edited by Creech on Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby KirkB » Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:37 pm

Good luck in your research and product development.

I have worked with a few other PV aficionados and PV safety enthusiasts and inventors re many of these pros and cons.

You will find that some your biggest challenges will be:

1. Cost (as you're already aware).

2. Reliability and liability. Any injuries or fatalities with any safety devices like this will cause the mfr to be subject to lawsuits, whether the device was faulty or not. So it had better be 100% reliable. And the mfr had better have the financial backing to fight frivolous lawsuits (expect to be sued whether the device is at fault or not).

3. Setup time between vaults must be short (as you're already aware).

4. You are on the right track in concluding that automated sensors that detect the position of the vaulter in the air, and deploy the airbag or mats in the face of imminent danger, is a solid design. There should be no human decision-making to trigger deployment of the device (too unreliable, and too prone to lawsuits against the person triggering the device).

5. Must be easy to set up, weatherproof, and work day-in and day-out over multiple seasons.

6. Must still work correctly if the pit shifts forwards a bit during the course of a practice or a meet (as it always does).

PVP contains many ideas related to "box safety" already, so scour it for ideas. SafetyMax+, PV Body Guard, Hock Block, etc. There is always room for new ideas. :idea:

Leave no stone unturned ...

Good luck!

Kirk
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Re: Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby vaultmd » Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:15 pm

My feedback is that you really need to involve Bill Singhose with this.

Also there is another device that sounds similar to what you describe being described somewhere on this board.

Tell Dr. Singhose Wilson says hi.

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Re: Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby Barber » Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:59 pm

When done correctly, a pole vaulter should land well back in the pit and no where near the pole vault box.
Eliminating hard surfaces around the back and sides of the vaulting landing area especially with some of the minimum sized pits should be a far greater concern to any competent pole vault coach than padding the vaulting box where athletes should never land anyway.

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Re: Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby KirkB » Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:08 pm

Barber wrote:When done correctly, a pole vaulter should land well back in the pit and no where near the pole vault box.

I totally agree, but nevertheless, accidents do happen. The proposed safety system is for those one-in-ten-thousand or one-in-a-hundred-thousand vaults when a vaulter ACCIDENTALLY falls into the box.

Unfortunately, you never know when an accident will occur - it's rather random (although preventable with good coaching and good technique, as you say).

Kirk
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Re: Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby vaultmd » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:34 am

Creech,
Did you talk to Dr. Singhose yet?

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Re: Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby Creech » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:11 pm

Barber wrote:When done correctly, a pole vaulter should land well back in the pit and no where near the pole vault box.
Eliminating hard surfaces around the back and sides of the vaulting landing area especially with some of the minimum sized pits should be a far greater concern to any competent pole vault coach than padding the vaulting box where athletes should never land anyway.


Thank you for the concern. My team and I actually talked to a few coaches at a local Emory meet in regards to this. We were told there was a much higher chance for people being injured in high school as this is when vaulter begin inverting but still don't have the experience in the air to be able to control their bodies. We also spoke with a man by the name of Charlie Polhamus who is a pretty renown coach who told us he would love a design such as this because it would give his students more confidence when inverting if they knew they wouldn't die if they messed up.

vaultmd wrote:Creech,
Did you talk to Dr. Singhose yet?


Thank you for all of the replies and ideas. My team and I have talked to Singhose and have gotten his opinion along the design process. Our final prototype is now finished, and is showcased in the videos below. Since this is just a prototype and the budget was limited, some pieces of the prototype would be different for a final design. Right now, a switch must be flipped to change the motor direction and unwind the retraction cord, this would be done automatically in the future. The switch to begin retraction would most likely continue to be manual, but would be elongated to be outside of the pit so a coach or fellow vaulter could hit it once the vault is complete.

A summary of the processes: a laser trip sensor checks when the pole clears the back of the box, a motion sensor checks to see that the area immediately in front of the deployment area is clear, the device fires, a manual switch is pressed to begin retraction, manual switch hit to change motor direction, cord unwinds, and program is running constantly so the device is ready to fire again immediately. From firing to being ready for the next vaulter is a time of 26.8 seconds.

Any feedback or opinions on the product would be valued!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4eVUzbu-qM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS90rWqeLZI

Sorry, couldn't figure out how to embed. If anyone is interested, you can contact Sam Strickling at sam.strickling@ni.com for more information.

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vaultmd
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Re: Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby vaultmd » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:33 pm

What would really be cool is if you incorporated Dr. Singhose's crane stabilizer gizmo into an automated crossbar putter-upper.

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Re: Potential Pole Vault Safety System

Unread postby Bjack6635@gmail.com » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:50 am

i am reminded of the box collar when first implemented i watched a 17 foot vaulters pole be deflected by the collar and rejected him down the runway he ultimatly broke his leg and the school district was sued for damages to the athlete because the collar was not installed properly. just food for thought.


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