10 Techs Taking On Old Man Winter
Don't let the blizzard get the best of you.
The massive blizzard rolling over the East Coast this weekend promises to dump more than two feet of snow over a period of 36 hours. Approximately 50 million people are either hunkered down by now or standing in line at the checkout counter, stocking up on bread, milk and meat.
But there's no need to let the snow and ice turn you into Ebenezer Scrooge this holiday season. So put on your boots, hats and mittens, the following snow tech is here to turn your snowpocalypse into a winter wonderland.
There a handful of robotic options for clearing snow from driveways and sidewalks, but look no further than ideaLaboratories' Roboplow. Tipping the scales at nearly 1,000 pounds, the remote-controlled vehicle boasts six-wheel drive, a 50-inch pneumatically actuated plow, 666 amps of power, an on-board charge system, a pan-and-tilt camera and LED headlights for night plowing. As the video below shows, Roboplow makes quick work of even the snowiest jobs.
Sure, Roboplow is a muscle-bound beast on roadways and walkways, but when it comes to snowy railways, it's time to break out the big guns. Thankfully, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York City has a brawny, well-stocked arsenal to out duel Old Man Winter and keep the Big Apple's trains running on time.
Though the MTA's de-icer and snow-brushing cars are nothing to flinch at, a fleet of four snow throwers are even more impressive. Picture a household snow blower on steroids and looks like it could chew up a small car and you get the picture. Besides precise directional snow throwing, the cars include a two stage impeller and side mounted rotating brushes that throw snow up to 200 feet. Most impressive, the snow throwers can remove up to 3,000 tons of snow an hour.
The Boss Hog of MTA's snow-fighting fleet would have to be the Jet Blower -- a 30,000-pound train car retrofitted with a jet engine take from a decommissioned B-52 bomber. If that's not enough to blow your hair back, consider this: the jet engine produces 2,500 pounds of thrust and blasts temperatures in the range of 600 degrees Fahrenheit, making it more than ideal for eliminating heavy, crusted snow and ice. MTA's fleet includes five of these snow-vaporizing bad boys. As you can imagine, strapping a jet engine to a train is fairly loud, so MTA primarily uses the jet blowers to clear the rail yards.
Old Man Winter can be cruel when dumping blizzards on people, but is he crueler when he dumps no snow at all? For those still waiting for a blanket of white, check out the handful of devices and systems that let you make your own snow at home.
Snow at Home's SG6 X-Stream is the complete package for turning compressed air and water into snow. The set includes a 1.6 gallons per minute electric power washer, an air compressor, a 25-foot extension hose and the snowmaker stand.
The $1,198 kit includes everything you'll need to make it snow, but weather conditions still need to be favorable. To keep you abreast, Snow at Home has an online Snowcasting tool that displays live conditions, including temperature, humidity and wet bulb temperature.
Now that you've made some snow, get out there and play in it! There's no better way to do so than with a good old-fashioned snowball fight. With this Arctic Force snowball launcher from Hammacher Schlemmer, you'll be the envy of the neighborhood as you mount your attack. The slingshot-like gun launches baseball-sized snowballs 50 feet. It also includes a snowball-forming chamber that holds three rounds -- arguably its best feature, considering the average adult can easily throw a snowball farther than 50 feet. But for kids, this snowball launcher is a sure-fire winner.
If the snowball launcher left you out in the cold, then this snowball xistera will surely turn up the heat. Modeled after a real jai alai xistera -- the scoop used in the sport to whip balls upwards of 188 miles per hour -- the snowball xistera may not be as dangerous, but it's capable of launching snowballs 150 feet. Grafted on to the handle is a built-in molding scoop for packing the perfect snowball. A set of two is available from Hammacher Schlemmer to the affordable tune of $24.99.
If plastic snowball guns and slings are too childish for your winter pastimes, strapping yourself into Snolo's ultralight carbon fiber Stealth-X Sled might be more your speed. Weighing just nine pounds, the sleek, aerodynamic sled was built for speed and has been clocked doing just over 40 miles per hour.
The Stealth-X features a compact monocoque shell, a front ski with foot pegs for steering and an arm connecting the two. The three pieces even come apart by removing a nut, so the sled can be strapped to one's back, making trudging uphill an easier trek. However, be prepared to shell out some serious coin. The Stealth-X fetches a $2,549 price tag, but that might be small price to pay for reigning supreme on your local sledding hill.
If you're hitting the slopes this season and don't want to scrimp on the tech, you might as well go full monty with Snow2 HUD ski goggles, a head up display system that's like Google Glass for skiers and snowboarders. While zipping downhill, a 14-inch image is projected five feet in front of wearers, in an unobtrusive corner of their field of vision. A host of sensors track speed, airtime, altitude changes, heart rate, outside temperature and more -- all viewable on the goggles' interface.
Controlled by a wrist-mounted, glove-friendly Bluetooth remote, users can link the goggles to their smartphone to take incoming calls, receive texts, plot routes on a map, all while keeping their eyes on the slopes. Best of all, the system's modular design enables it to be integrated with many of the world's leading goggle brands. There's a range of options to choose from, all in the ballpark of $349 to $449.
Can't decide if you want to ski or sled? Why not combine the two with the Snowbull, a hybrid take on the tradition sled, luge and sit-down ski. Pilots lie down on their back on the vehicle's bench, which is connected to skis, and use foot pegs and hand grips to steer. Tilting action allows the skis to grab snow and offers much of the same speed and carving advantages of actual skis. For winter sport enthusiast who may be suffering from knee or joint pain, the $200 Snowbull is a good option since it offers significantly less impact on those areas.
For winter enthusiasts who also happen to be secret agents, the Canadian military has been secretly test-driving a $620,000 stealth snowmobile for use in clandestine Arctic operations, if there is such a thing. The Canadian Press and CBC News reported that the military, in their attempt to create the quietest snowmobile possible, "have taken the hybrid-electric snowmobile on trial runs to evaluate features such as speed, noise level, battery endurance and acceleration." Canada's Department of National Defense nicknamed the covert snowmobile "Loki," after the mythological, shape-shifting Norse god.