Illinois Patent of the Month – June 2022

Roping simulators are fantastic inventions, providing the tools needed for ranchers to practice their roping skills without needing a live animal. When you rope a steer, you need the right technique to properly throw the rope, land it on the steer, pull and tighten without hurting the animal or having the rope slip off. Not only do these systems protect the animal, they protect the roper as well. 

Unfortunately, traditional roping simulators fail to accurately mimic the movement of a live animal. For instance, one classic motion the simulators fail to mimic is the “washout” position an animal takes when turning a corner. This washout position refers to the motion when an animal’s back end slips and pivots during a tight turn. Heel-O-Matic, Inc. has recently patented their design for a more realistic and accurate roping simulator.

Their design better mimics washout, pivoting, and hinging. Their design also focuses on accurately mimicking the way a live animal’s neck and shoulders rotate and pivot when a rope is pulled over their neck. The practice dummy – or sled – is pulled by a vehicle or ATV to achieve speeds that are realistic for the animal. 

Their practice dummy achieves realistic washout movement using a spring-biased body portion. This portion can hinge into position as the dummy is pulled into a corner, and returns to a normal position as it is straightened and pulled forward out of the corner. 

The pivoting is achieved by strategically placing pivot bolts. In one case, the main pivot bolt engages the head post where it connects to a head pivot plate. When the roper secures the steer and pulls the rope tight, the pressure causes the head to pivot based on the direction of the force. A spring ensures the head returns to its center neutral position.

The realistic anatomy and movement best mimics live cattle, ensuring the roper, rancher, or cowboy practices realistic hand-eye coordination and cattle movement. These design choices ensure that roping skills honed during practice will translate directly into live cattle roping. 

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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