A UK SME is developing golf ball cannons and low-cost, interactive targets for driving range games to attract those who enjoy games and sport, including those with little ability or interest in golf. Mechanical and electronic interlocks ensure that the cannons are 100% safe and secure. The interactive targets are ideal for regular golf games and competitions. A manufacturer that would like to license the technology to golf and/or other leisure industry companies within the EU is sought.
Established in 1995, this UK Company's main activity has been developing innovative golf technologies for license to enterprises in the UK and USA. The cannons operate with compressed air and are built with approved air system components. Several countries restrict air-powered weapons with muzzle energies above certain limits, usually from 7.5 to 25 joules depending on country. The muzzle energy of golf balls fired from the cannons sometimes exceed 100 joules so special safety measures are required to ensure that they are not classed as weapons and also carry no risk of product liability. Safety measures include: • Shot distance limited by fixed launch angle and limited maximum air pressure. • Shot direction mechanically and electronically limited. • Proximity sensor disables firing if any object enters local line of fire. • Operation is only possible in a fixed position and by connection to an external air source, to external electric power and to a central control serial data link. • The system alarms if cannons are disconnected during deployment or during storage unless authorised for transfer or maintenance. Please find attached figures describing the offer. Figure 1 shows a cannon set up in a driving bay. The bay is normally used for playing golf so the equipment is designed to be quickly dismantled after use. The cannon is mounted on a table top or other suitable platform temporarily fixed to the floor. It rotates about a fixed axis to aim at different targets across the range. The vertical launch angle is not adjustable so the shot distance is controlled by adjusting the air pressure charge. The player keys in the required ball carry and the system automatically charges the cannon with the correct pressure by controlling a solenoid air supply valve. Carry distance varies non-linearly with the air pressure charge and is also affected by headwinds and tailwinds, amongst other factors. The distance versus pressure algorithm is constantly updated to allow for prevailing conditions by tracking the average time taken to hit targets with cannon shots. A similar correction is made for crosswinds by tracking errors in azimuth. Figure 2 illustrates the target design. The framework is made from tubular sections with a lightweight foam core and an outer reinforced PVC fabric cladding. The framework is covered by ball-stop netting which gives low resistance to wind. This construction is soft and compliant to localised stress and thus tough and durable, but remains rigid against the distributed force of strong wind. One or more monitoring cameras are mounted at ground level in front of each target to measure the velocity vectors and position co-ordinates of balls hitting the target. The data is analysed along with launch data from cannons and golfers to provide shot identification that matches each shot fired from a cannon or hit by a golf club with the corresponding target impact. The shot identification provides the basis for games and competitions involving strategy and skill, played out on video displays. Hitting randomly numbered target sections can substitute for the throw of dice in video board games. Competing teams can play against each other to 'capture targets' by being the first team to hit all the sections of a target. Instrumented mobile targets can be used to emulate 'invaders' in a war game scenario. The SME seeks businesses in sports equipment or other manufacturing industries to help develop and manufacture the product. They will then take it to market under a licensing agreement in all EU countries.
Innovations and advantages
• The appeal is not limited to golfers but includes a much larger and quite different demographic from that of traditional driving range users. • Ideal for children's parties with opportunities to introduce golf to youngsters. • Affordable for all sizes of driving range. • Novel targets design is low-cost and simple to install. • Interactive target games and competitions enhance the driving range experience for regular golfers. • License free 'Skill with Prizes' games and special events can provide further customer incentives. • Easily installed into existing driving ranges.
Market application codes
07001004 Sporting goods, hobby equipment and athletics clothes
Area of partner's activity
The UK company has built a prototype cannon and has the necessary design and test capabilities to develop and validate the performance of the cannons and targets sub-systems. They wish to work with a design and development partner to integrate these sub-systems with a user interface and computer control system to provide a full range of interactive game scenarios suitable for golf driving ranges.