Snow and Avalanche Center 2007 Avalanche News

In the heart of an avalanche

Lots of people give advice about what to do when caught in an avalanche but how many of them have actually been through the nightmare of white death? The ski resort of les Deux Alpes wants to do exactly that to visitors, but in complete security thanks to a simulator dubbed The Robocoaster. The simulator is the brainchild of local businessman Marc Dode who lost a ski instructor friend and his client in an avalanche several years ago.

Dode approached Kuku, a world leader building industrial robots whose main clients are normally German aerospace manufacturers. Kuku started with a simulator already in use in use a Legoland and Futuroscope near Poitiers. The simulator has two cabins and a large fan to blow cold air. The simulator can rotate around six axes and can throw the user through an arc of seven meters. The ride lasts 2 minutes including a final 20 seconds of avalanche. A lot shorter than the intermiable wait most victims endure before they are rescued.

The simulator is housed in a giant dome which also includes an exhibition on the theme of avalanches as well as a film prepared in conjunction with the French snow and avalanche research association. The project has cost 600 000 € and will open on the 20th of December. The ride costs 10 € and can be found at the bottom of the lifts by the tourist office. Les Deux Alpes will also be running their Free Respect sessions from the 7th of January to the 15th of April. The sessions will have a higher English content this season, to appeal to the 50% of Anglophone and Dutch visitors to the resort.

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