In Europe’s top-rated thrill ride, a giant pendulum swings 40 screaming thrill-seekers through a giant arc that creates both the extreme gravitational forces and the sensation of weightlessness of a space flight. This 2 minutes and 20 seconds of squeal-worthy fun is made possible by pioneering technology from ABB.
A powerful ABB electric system propels the ride, known as the Loke Gyro Swing, at the famous Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg, Sweden. The industrial motor provides the rapid acceleration and deceleration that supplies the thrills, while the motor’s carefully calibrated controls ensure that the giant pendulum operates precisely, efficiently and – most important – safely. And in a nod to environmental sustainability, the system even uses the ride’s braking power to generate electricity that can be fed back to the local power grid.
The ride is named for Loke, a fearsome god in Norse mythology often portrayed as a shape-shifting trickster who flies high in the air. The pendulum reaches speeds of up to 100 km/h during its 120-degree arc. As the pendulum pulls out of its downswing, passengers are momentarily subjected to a face-stretching gravitational force of up to 4 g’s, close to what astronauts feel when heading into space. Then, as the spinning gyroscopic passenger platform approaches its highest point – 42 meters – the riders briefly experience weightlessness. No wonder the trade journal Kirmes & Park Revue chose Loke as Europe’s top thrill ride for 2018.
Precision and Safety Are Built In
The failsafe ride control system builder Inautec GmbH, chose ABB’s innovative industrial ACS880-17 drive for the Gyro Swing. Inautec is part of the Intamin Amusement Rides Group, the global leader in the field of amusement rides worldwide.
The ACS880-17 drive incorporates ABB’s pioneering motor-control technology, supported by ABB Ability™ remote monitoring. The drive provides precise speeds and torque and accurate position control to take the Gyro Swing through its choreographed paces. Because ABB’s position controlled drives can be used on even very high powered motors, the system can be designed with just one motor instead of several motors and gearboxes. This reduces the complexity of the system, making it more reliable, quieter and also more efficient. Without the ACS880-17’s precise control capabilities, the Gyro Swing’s designers might have needed as many as five different motors to power the ride.
Among other benefits, the precise pendulum positioning enabled by the ABB drive ensures that the Gyro Swing consistently stops at the same, precise spot after each ride. That precision also boosts productivity. Because operators don’t need to repeatedly maneuver the Gyro Swing into its proper starting position after each ride, they can maintain the maximum flow of 900 riders per hour. That translates to shorter waiting times for passengers and higher revenue streams for the amusement park’s owners.
And passengers and operators alike can count on safety and reliability. Designing safety into a ride typically requires many external components, which adds complexity and overall costs. But ABB’s ACS880-17 drive contains integrated safety solutions – like governing maximum crawling speeds, and preventing unexpected start-ups – that comply with the most stringent global safety standards.
The ACS880-17 also incorporates the company’s sustainability and innovation ethos. The regenerative drive captures the braking energy as the ride slows and stops, converting it to electric power that feeds back to the grid. Each ride cycle captures approximately 1.4 kWh or enough to power a large air conditioner for an hour.
The real magic of ABB’s technology, though? It all operates behind the scenes. That lets amusement park guests focus on the reason they flock to the Loke Gyro Swing: to squeal with delight as their bodies defy gravity.