CNET News Video: Roller coaster tech helps U.S. Navy with its need for speed
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CNET News Video: Roller coaster tech helps U.S. Navy with its need for speed

2:50 /

About a dozen new roller coasters are opening at amusement parks across the U.S. this summer. Many are bigger, faster, and scarier than ever thanks to tech capable of accelerating them to up to 100 mph. CNET's Sumi Das shows us how the technology is also helping revolutionize U.S. Navy carriers.

-The newest roller coasters are over the top. Setting records for height and speed and sending riders through a dizzying series of loops and turns. Many of the scream-inducing drops and stomach-turning twists are made possible with electromagnetic technology called linear synchronous motor or LSM. Instead of climbing up a steep incline and using gravity to gain speed, LSM allows roller coasters to accelerate from a standstill to high speeds within seconds. -We can go higher and faster than we have before. Conventional lifts, we can only go so high. With some of our launched coasters, we're doing 450 plus feet in the air versus 300 foot on conventional lift coasters. -The Superman: Ultimate Flight ride at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom uses LSM to create a non-inverted loop, a rare feature in park rides. -In your refrigerator at home, you have a motor and it's a circular motor. And all we've done is we've taken that and we've laid it out flat so that instead of power moving in a circular motion, it moves in a linear motion. -The coasters are powered by supercomputers and electromagnets. -The easiest way to explain this is like, if you remember when you were a kid, you took magnets and you pushed them together and they repelled each other? It's basically the same concept. -LSM not only propels the train to speeds over 60 miles per hour, it's also used in the braking system to slow it down. The US Navy is developing the same technology for its next generation of aircraft carriers. After 50 years of using steam catapults, the Navy is testing various jets with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system and it's preparing to [unk] the first carrier to use the technology. Even tried and true wooden roller coasters are getting modern makeovers this year. Great America's Gold Striker was designed with computers, but constructed by [unk]. -It's got a 108-foot drop. You're gonna go 55 miles an hour. You can see one of these banks here is an 85-degree bank. These are features that are not common in wooden roller coasters. -This one may look old fashioned, but the roller coaster's speed, its safety, even though screams wouldn't be possible without technology. -The ride control system tracks everything that happens on the ride, watching all of the inputs, all the sensors for watching air pressure, locations of trains, sensing speeds, position of brakes. So, everything is being monitored and controlled in a redundant fashion. So, all riders have to worry about is having fun. In Vallejo, California, I'm Sumi Das CNET.com for CBS News.

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