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Title:
RETRACTABLE PLATFORM SYSTEM FOR VESSEL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/202576
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A retractable platform system for installation aboard a vessel for amusement purposes is described. The retractable platform system includes a platform on which one or more persons may stand or be seated. The system further includes a mechanical means connected to the platform for extending the platform away from a hull of the vessel when the people are situated thereon. The platform is extended out of the vessel's hull as an amusement "ride" or attraction experience. The system provides riders with unique views of the vessel and body of water below while still being aboard the vessel. The mechanical means retracts the platform into the hull when the ride experience ends so that the riders may deboard. The system further includes a storage compartment for receiving and storing the platform when it is retracted into the hull.

Inventors:
RUSTAD, Jr, John, M. (10725 Larissa Street, Orlando, Florida, 32821, US)
Application Number:
IB2019/053350
Publication Date:
October 24, 2019
Filing Date:
April 23, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
WARTSILA NORTH AMERICA, INC. (11710 N. Gessner Road, Suite AHouston, Texas, 77064, US)
International Classes:
B60R3/02; B63B1/18; B63B3/48; B63B7/04; B63B17/04; B63B27/14; B63B29/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOHNSON, James David (Johnson & Martin, P.A.500 West Cypress Creek Road,Suite 43, Fort Lauderdale Florida, 33309, US)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A retractable platform system for installation aboard a vessel, the system comprising:

a vessel comprising a hull;

a platform on which a person may stand or be seated or an object placed;

a mechanical means connected to the platform for extending the platform away from the hull of the vessel and for retracting the platform into the hull; and

a storage compartment inside the hull of the vessel for receiving and storing the platform when it is retracted into the hull.

2. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the vessel comprises a door that is openable to allow the platform to extend away from the vessel and is closeable when the platform is retracted into the storage compartment.

3. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the platform comprises one or more seats.

4. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein a bottom of the platform comprises transparent material.

5. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein a bottom of the platform comprises one or more apertures.

6. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the platform comprises an open bottom and comprises one or more seats connected to the platform.

7. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the mechanical means comprises electromechanical equipment.

8. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the mechanical means comprises servo-hydraulic equipment.

9. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the platform is extendable as a bridge to allow passengers to board and deboard the vessel and to load and unload objects onto and off of the vessel.

10. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the platform is installed at, above, or beneath one of the vessel’s uppermost decks.

11. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the platform is installed at, above, or beneath one of the vessel’s lower decks.

12. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the vessel comprises two or more platforms and corresponding mechanical means and storage compartments.

13. The retractable platform system of claim 1, wherein the vessel comprises a loading station for placing objects onto and removing objects from the platform and for allowing one or more riders to board and deboard the platform.

14. A buoyancy stabilization system for a vessel, the system comprising:

a vessel comprising a hull;

a platform that is extendable away from and retractable into the hull;

a mechanical means connected to the platform for extending the platform away from the hull of the vessel and for retracting the platform into the hull;

a storage compartment inside the hull of the vessel for receiving and storing the platform when it is retracted into the hull; and

at least one inflatable body installed on the platform, wherein the at least one inflatable body is inflatable to provide additional buoyancy to stabilize the vessel during an emergency.

15. The buoyancy stabilization system of claim 14, wherein the at least one inflatable body is deflatable when the emergency ends.

16. The buoyancy stabilization system of claim 14, wherein the at least one inflatable body is installed on a bottom of the platform, on one or more sides of the platform, inside an interior space between a top and a bottom of the platform, or to a combination of two or more of the foregoing installation positions.

17. The buoyancy stabilization system of claim 14, further comprising a first valve that is openable to introduce gas into the at least one inflatable body and a release valve, which may be the first valve or a different valve, that is openable to remove gas from the at least one inflatable body.

18. An emergency lifeboat system for a vessel, the system comprising:

a vessel comprising a hull;

a platform that is extendable away from and detachable from the hull;

a mechanical means connected to the platform for extending the platform away from the hull of the vessel and for detaching the platform from the hull;

a storage compartment inside the hull of the vessel for receiving and storing the platform when it is retracted into the hull; and

one or more inflatable bodies installed on the platform, wherein the one or more inflatable bodies are inflatable to provide buoyancy to the platform when the platform is detached from the vessel for use as a lifeboat during an emergency.

19. The emergency lifeboat system of claim 18, wherein the platform comprises buoyant material capable of floating while the platform is detached from the vessel into a body of water and is holding one or more passengers.

20. The emergency lifeboat system of claim 18, wherein the one or more inflatable bodies are installed on a bottom of the platform, on one or more sides of the platform, inside an interior space between a top and a bottom of the platform, or to a combination of two or more of the foregoing installation positions.

Description:
RETRACTABLE PLATFORM SYSTEM FOR VESSEL

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to amusement rides. More particularly, the invention relates to a retractable platform system installed on a vessel for amusement and entertainment purposes.

BACKGROUND

As ships used by the cruise line industry have increased in size, so too have the onboard amenities offered to passengers. Larger vessels now accommodate waterparks, water slides, sports facilities, larger or more pools, rappelling walls, shopping and performance/concert facilities, night clubs, outdoor theater-style movie screens, ziplining adventures, and other facilities both above and below deck. As the cruise line industry continues to grow and the number of passengers increases, cruise lines must offer amenities that amuse, thrill, and entertain customers in order to remain competitive. Due to the unique challenges of building an amusement device or system aboard a floating vessel, to date, cruise line vessels have not included moving amusement rides that could affect vessel performance.

A need exists for an amusement device and system for entertaining cruise line passengers.

SUMMARY

The invention relates to a retractable platform system for installation aboard a vessel for amusement purposes. The retractable platform system includes a platform on which one or more persons (i.e., a rider or riders) may stand or be seated or otherwise positioned. The system further includes a mechanical means connected to the vessel and to the platform for extending the platform away from a hull of the vessel when riders are situated thereon. The platform is extended out of the vessel’s hull as an amusement“ride” or attraction in which the platform allows its riders to be extended in location a distance away from the vessel to enjoy the excitement and thrill of being positioned high above the water but away from the vessel. The system provides riders with unique views of the vessel and body of water below while still being aboard the vessel. The mechanical means retracts the platform into the hull when the ride experience ends so that the riders may deboard. The system further includes a storage compartment for receiving and storing the platform when it is retracted into the hull.

The retractable platform system provides several advantages to vessels on which the system is installed over new and legacy vessels that do not include the system. For example, the system provides an amusement“ride” or attraction experience that may be exciting or thrilling to passengers aboard the vessel who participate due to the potentially great height at which the platform may be extended away from the vessel above the body of water. An embodiment of the system installed at one of the uppermost decks of a large vessel (e.g., a modern cruise ship) would provide a unique and exciting view high above the water but away from the main body of the vessel as well as unique views of the main body of the vessel from the extended position of the platform. Another embodiment of the retractable platform system installed on a deck of the vessel near to the water line would provide a unique ride experience by placing the riders near to the water surface (e.g., perhaps close enough to feel ocean spray or even wave splash) but away from the main body of the vessel so that unique and exciting views of the water and main body of the vessel are presented to the rider.

Accordingly, the invention features a retractable platform system for installation aboard a vessel. The system includes a vessel having a hull, a platform on which a person may stand or be seated or an object placed, a mechanical means connected to the platform for extending the platform away from the hull of the vessel and for retracting the platform into the hull, and a storage compartment inside the hull of the vessel for receiving and storing the platform when it is retracted into the hull.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the vessel including a door that is openable to allow the platform to extend away from the vessel and is closeable when the platform is retracted into the storage compartment.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the platform including one or more seats.

In another aspect, the invention can feature a bottom of the platform including or being constructed, entirely or partially, from transparent material.

In another aspect, the invention can feature a bottom of the platform including one or more apertures.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the platform including an open bottom and having one or more seats connected to the platform.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the mechanical means including or being electromechanical equipment.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the mechanical means including or being servo-hydraulic equipment.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the platform being extendable as a bridge to allow passengers to board and deboard the vessel and to load and unload objects onto and off of the vessel. In another aspect, the invention can feature the platform being installed at, above, or beneath one of the vessel’ s uppermost decks.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the platform being installed at, above, or beneath one of the vessel’ s lower decks.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the vessel including two or more platforms and corresponding mechanical means and storage compartments.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the vessel including a loading station for placing objects onto and removing objects from the platform and for allowing one or more riders to board and deboard the platform.

The invention also features a buoyancy stabilization system for a vessel. The system includes a vessel having a hull, a platform that is extendable away from and retractable into the hull, a mechanical means connected to the platform for extending the platform away from the hull of the vessel and for retracting the platform into the hull, a storage compartment inside the hull of the vessel for receiving and storing the platform when it is retracted into the hull, and at least one inflatable body installed on the platform, wherein the at least one inflatable body is inflatable to provide additional buoyancy to stabilize the vessel during an emergency.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the at least one inflatable body being deflatable when the emergency ends.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the at least one inflatable body being installed on a bottom of the platform, on one or more sides of the platform, inside an interior space between a top and a bottom of the platform, or to a combination of two or more of the foregoing installation positions.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the buoyancy stabilization system further including a first valve that is openable to introduce gas into the at least one inflatable body and a release valve, which may be the first valve or a different valve, that is openable to remove gas from the at least one inflatable body.

The invention also features an emergency lifeboat system for a vessel. The system includes a vessel having a hull, a platform that is extendable away from and detachable from the hull, a mechanical means connected to the platform for extending the platform away from the hull of the vessel and for detaching the platform from the hull, a storage compartment inside the hull of the vessel for receiving and storing the platform when it is retracted into the hull, and one or more inflatable bodies installed on the platform, wherein the one or more inflatable bodies are inflatable to provide buoyancy to the platform when the platform is detached from the vessel for use as a lifeboat during an emergency. In another aspect, the invention can feature the platform including or being buoyant material capable of floating while the platform is detached from the vessel into a body of water and is holding one or more passengers.

In another aspect, the invention can feature the one or more inflatable bodies being installed on a bottom of the platform, on one or more sides of the platform, inside an interior space between a top and a bottom of the platform, or to a combination of two or more of the foregoing installation positions.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, suitable methods and materials are described below. All publications, patent applications, patents and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. In the case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions will control.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 is a drawing of one embodiment of the retractable platform system installed on a vessel, which illustrates both retracted and extended configurations.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is best understood by reference to the detailed drawings and description set forth herein. Embodiments of the invention are discussed below with reference to the drawings; however, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that the detailed description given herein with respect to these figures is for explanatory purposes as the invention extends beyond these limited embodiments. For example, in light of the teachings of the present invention, those skilled in the art will recognize a multiplicity of alternate and suitable approaches, depending upon the needs of the particular application, to implement the functionality of any given detail described herein beyond the particular implementation choices in the following embodiments described and shown. That is, numerous modifications and variations of the invention may exist that are too numerous to be listed but that all fit within the scope of the invention. Also, singular words should be read as plural and vice versa and masculine as feminine and vice versa, where appropriate, and alternative embodiments do not necessarily imply that the two are mutually exclusive.

The present invention should not be limited to the particular methodology, compounds, materials, manufacturing techniques, uses, and applications, described herein, as these may vary. The terminology used herein is used for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention. As used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms“a,”“an,” and“the” include the plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, a reference to“an element” is a reference to one or more elements and includes equivalents thereof known to those skilled in the art. Similarly, for another example, a reference to“a step” or“a means” may be a reference to one or more steps or means and may include sub-steps and subservient means.

All conjunctions used herein are to be understood in the most inclusive sense possible. Thus, a group of items linked with the conjunction“and” should not be read as requiring that each and every one of those items be present in the grouping, but rather should be read as “and/or” unless expressly stated otherwise. Similarly, a group of items linked with the conjunction“or” should not be read as requiring mutual exclusivity among that group, but rather should be read as“and/or” unless expressly stated otherwise. Structures described herein are to be understood also to refer to functional equivalents of such structures. Language that may be construed to express approximation should be so understood unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

Unless otherwise defined, all terms (including technical and scientific terms) are to be given their ordinary and customary meaning to a person of ordinary skill in the art, and are not to be limited to a special or customized meaning unless expressly so defined herein.

Terms and phrases used in this application, and variations thereof, especially in the appended claims, unless otherwise expressly stated, should be construed as open ended as opposed to limiting. As examples of the foregoing, the term“including” should be read to mean“including, without limitation,”“including but not limited to,” or the like; the term “having” should be interpreted as“having at least”; the term“includes” should be interpreted as“includes but is not limited to”; the term“example” is used to provide exemplary instances of the item in discussion, not an exhaustive or limiting list thereof; and use of terms like “preferably,”“preferred,”“desired,”“desirable, ” or“exemplary” and words of similar meaning should not be understood as implying that certain features are critical, essential, or even important to the structure or function of the invention, but instead as merely intended to highlight alternative or additional features that may or may not be utilized in a particular embodiment of the invention.

Those skilled in the art will also understand that if a specific number of an introduced claim recitation is intended, such an intent will be explicitly recited in the claim, and in the absence of such recitation no such intent is present. For example, as an aid to understanding, the appended claims may contain usage of the introductory phrases“at least one” and“one or more” to introduce claim recitations; however, the use of such phrases should not be construed to imply that the introduction of a claim recitation by the indefinite articles“a” or“an” limits any particular claim containing such introduced claim recitation to embodiments containing only one such recitation, even when the same claim includes the introductory phrases“one or more” or“at least one” and indefinite articles such as“a” or“an” (e.g.,“a” and“an” should typically be interpreted to mean“at least one” or“one or more”); the same holds true for the use of definite articles used to introduce claim recitations. In addition, even if a specific number of an introduced claim recitation is explicitly recited, those skilled in the art will recognize that such recitation should typically be interpreted to mean at least the recited number (e.g., the bare recitation of“two recitations,” without other modifiers, typically means at least two recitations, or two or more recitations). Furthermore, in those instances where a convention analogous to “at least one of A, B, and C” is used, in general, such a construction is intended in the sense one having skill in the art would understand the convention (e.g.,“a system having at least one of A, B, and C” would include but not be limited to systems that have A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, and/or A, B, and C together, etc.).

All numbers expressing dimensions, quantities of ingredients, reaction conditions, and so forth used in the specification are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term“about” unless expressly stated otherwise. Accordingly, unless indicated to the contrary, the numerical parameters set forth herein are approximations that may vary depending upon the desired properties sought to be obtained.

The invention provides a retractable platform system installed on a vessel for amusement and entertainment purposes. The system includes a vessel, a platform movably connected to the vessel, mechanical means for extending and retracting the platform, and a compartment within the vessel for receiving the platform when it is oriented in its retracted configuration. The system may also include a door that opens when the platform is extended outside of the compartment and closes when the platform is retracted into the compartment of the vessel. The door may open laterally or may open upward or downward. The door may also be retractable into a compartment within the vessel’s hull or into a compartment built on an interior wall inside the vessel. In various embodiments, the platform can include one or more seats, e.g., a row of seats. The seats may include safety belts (i.e., seatbelts) or other safety mechanisms to secure each rider in the rider’s seat. For example, each seat may include a seatbelt, a shoulder harness, a safety lap bar, an over-the-shoulder restraint, or a combination of two or more of the foregoing safety devices to ensure that a rider may not intentionally or unintentionally fall overboard from off the platform when it is extended away from the vessel. Each seat may also include a hand rail that the rider may hold onto or grasp. In some embodiments, instead of seats, the platform may include upright“seats” in which each rider is secured in a standing position or reclining seats in which each rider is secured in a reclined seated position.

The platform may include a solid opaque bottom, a transparent (e.g., glass, plastic, or other transparent or translucent material) bottom, a bottom with one or more apertures, a solid mesh bottom, or a combination of the foregoing. In some embodiments, the platform may not include a bottom so that each rider is suspended in the rider’s seat above the body of water.

The platform may be rectangular or another quadrilateral shape. In an exemplary embodiment, the platform may be a circular sector in shape, for example, a quadrant or semicircle. In other embodiments, the platform may be a circular segment in shape. In still other embodiments, the platform may be triangular or irregular in shape.

In exemplary embodiments, the mechanical means for extending and retracting the platform can be electromechanical. In other embodiments, the mechanical means can be servo- hydraulic.

In exemplary embodiments, the retractable platform system is installed on a new vessel during construction of that vessel. In other embodiments, an existing vessel (i.e., a legacy ship) may be retrofitted to incorporate the retractable platform system.

A vessel may have one, two, three, four, or more of the retractable platform systems installed aboard it. The retractable platform systems may be installed on any side of the vessel, but generally, are installed on the port and starboard sides of the vessel. In some embodiments (for example, as shown in Figure 1), the retractable platform system may be installed forward on the vessel near the bow on either the port or starboard side or on both if multiple systems are installed. In other embodiments, the retractable platform system may be installed aft on the vessel near the stern on either the port or starboard side or on both if multiple systems are installed. The retractable platform system may be installed at, above, or beneath one of the uppermost decks of the vessel to provide unique and exciting views to riders from a position away from the vessel high above the body of water. Alternatively, the retractable platform system may be installed at, above, or beneath one of the lower decks of the vessel to provide unique and exciting views to riders from a position away from the vessel above but near to the body of water. In this embodiment, the riders may feel ocean spray or even wave splash. A particular vessel may have retractable platform systems installed in multiple of the aforementioned positions and locations aboard the vessel. In exemplary embodiments, one or more of the retractable platform systems are installed beneath the deck of the vessel providing access to the vessel’ s lifeboats as shown in Figure 1.

The vessel can be constructed so that a storage compartment is built inside the hull of the vessel for storing all or a portion of the platform (when the platform is retracted) and/or the mechanical means. In exemplary embodiments, the storage compartment is constructed inside the vessel to house the platform when it is retracted as well as the mechanical means. The inside of the vessel includes a loading station where riders can enter and be seated or otherwise secured on the platform when it is retracted. The platform then extends outside and away from the vessel to provide the riders with the amusement and entertainment experience for a period of time. When the“ride” ends, the platform is retracted back inside the vessel to the loading station so that the riders may deboard the platform.

The system can also be constructed to have additional modes of operation. For example, in one embodiment, the retractable platform system may be utilized as a boarding bridge for the vessel, which is deployed to allow passengers (also including crew members and any other person who may need to board the vessel) of the vessel to move onto the platform (with or without their luggage) while the platform is extended. Once passengers are located on the extended platform, the platform may be retracted back inside the vessel so that the passengers can move off the platform and into the vessel. In some embodiments, the platform may also be extended to allow passengers to walk or otherwise move across the platform, while it is extended, into the vessel without waiting for the platform to be retracted. The platform is then retracted into the storage compartment when boarding is complete and the vessel is ready to leave port.

In another additional mode of operation, the retractable platform system may include one or more inflatable bodies attached to the retractable platform. The inflatable bodies can be deflated in a normal state and inflated in an emergency state to provide additional buoyancy to stabilize the vessel in an emergency situation, for example, as in when the vessel is taking on water. The inflatable bodies may be inflated using compressed gas stored in a tank attached to the platform or provided via a gas line, pump or other means. For example, the compressed gas may be introduced into an interior space of the inflatable body via a valve. When the inflatable body must be deflated, a release valve may be opened. In another embodiment, a pump may be used to remove gas from the inflatable bodies. The inflatable bodies may be attached to a bottom of the retractable platform, attached to one or more sides of the retractable platform, or installed inside an interior space between a top and a bottom of the retractable platform. In some embodiments, inflatable bodies may be attached or installed in a combination of two or more of the foregoing locations. All retractable platforms on the vessel may include one or more inflatable bodies, or in some embodiments, only some retractable platforms of the vessel include attached inflatable bodies while others do not.

In still another mode of operation, the retractable platform is detachable from the vessel and usable as a lifeboat in an emergency when the vessel must be evacuated of passengers. The retractable platform can include one or more inflatable bodies as described above for use in this embodiment. In other embodiments, the retractable platform is constructed from a buoyant material capable of floating without sinking while holding one or more passengers on its top surface.

Other Embodiments

It is to be understood that while the invention has been described in conjunction with the detailed description thereof, the foregoing description is intended to illustrate and not limit the scope of the invention, which is defined by the scope of the appended claims. Other aspects, advantages, and modifications are within the scope of the following claims.