Episode 145: Waterslide Wipeout

Air Date: May 19, 2010

A person can slide down a supersized waterslide, launch off a ramp at the end, fly 115 feet (35 meters), and land in a kiddie pool with perfect accuracy. (Based off of a popular online video)

busted

The Mythbusters first built a scale model of the slide and discovered that the concept was plausible. They then built the full size ramp with dimensions based on thorough analysis of the video. For safety reasons, the Mythbusters built the slide next to a man-made lake so that they could avoid injury if they missed the target. After several runs, the Mythbusters concluded that the 115 foot flight distance was impossible, as they could only travel at a maximum distance of 72 feet with a peak speed of 30 miles per hour. In order to achieve the 115 foot distance, they would need to be traveling at least forty miles per hour. They then tested the accuracy of the slide, and found that the accuracy was fairly high. However, because they couldn’t achieve the distance portion of the myth, they were forced to bust the myth. Just to make absolutely sure, the Mythbusters contacted the people responsible for making the video, and they confirmed that the video was made using computer graphics.

Driving a route taking only right turns instead of left turns is more fuel efficient than driving normally, because the vehicle uses up more gas idling while waiting for traffic to clear on a left turn than taking three right turns.

confirmed

For their first test, the Build Team drove a regular size car on a controlled course. On the first run, they drove the car around a block using a left hand turn, but had to wait for a turn signal. In the second run, they instead took three right turns to bypass the signal, but the route was longer. The results showed that by taking only right hand turns, the car managed to cover more distance in less time while only consuming about 1% more fuel. For a more realistic result, the Build Team obtained a full size delivery truck and delivered packages to several locations throughout San Francisco. After driving a route that included some left hand turns, they repeated the exact same route, but replaced all of the left turns with right turns. After reviewing their results, the Build Team discovered that the right turn route was more fuel efficient by 3%, despite having to driver a longer distance. Kari then pointed out that this would be an ideal strategy for delivery trucks in urban environments, but would not work as well with regular cars.

45 Comments

  1. Joshfu says:

    The idea that taking right turns, increasing the distance traveled would save gas is absurd. You are moving hundreds of lbs extra distance. while in idle the vehichle is essentially motionless, and would require less gas. even if running longer times in excess of the time spent traveling with right turns. You guys know math, your just wasting time and money on a foolish test. :D I am however, glad that you are having fun.

    • Hunter says:

      You really don’t know how much fuel idling actually uses, do you? Leaving an average car to idle for an hour is the same as driving on the highway for ~30 minutes.

  2. Jason c says:

    It is so totally unfair that they built such a wonderfully fun watterslide and didn’t invite any fans to play with it.
    Yes there would have been insurance issues but I would have been willing to sign a waiver.

    As far as making right or left turns I think the myth is busted not because of the gas saved but because of the extra time it would take to make the deliveries.
    Time is money in this case hourly wages. So if it took longer to do it even if you were saving gas you would end up losing money. This means that the companies that do this are actually giving their workers more hours over a long enough period of time. I gotta believe gas costs less than the hourly wage of a delivery driver.

  3. Xian says:

    Accually the right turn left turn test would be skewed with a diesel truck because a diesel naturally uses a larger percentace of fuel during idle due to the fact that it uses the compression of said fuel to allow the engine to run, unlike a gas engine that ignites the fuel with a spark and wastes less fuel at idle

  4. Nato says:

    This cannot be correct because, the ammount of material used to create the energy for distance traveled is incorrect, hundreds of pounds as compaired to hundreds of gallons. False. Busted because litterally and ideally, the test was busted. Maybe it just needs to be !!retaken…

  5. Elizabeth S. says:

    If you want to get a big clue to spotting the fakeness of the original viral water slide video, look at the splash when the guy lands. It’s a little splash, straight up in the air. Compare that to the size and DIRECTION of the splashes Jamie & Adam made. The original splash: straight up and down, and small (hence must have been slow velocity from straight above). MythBusters: Large and in the same trajectory/direction of the MB sliders. Physics, baby!

  6. Husky says:

    The right turn myth result doesn’t make sense to me: where is the saving come from? The right turn only route took longer time (presumably the truck was running the whole time) and cover longer distance, so how could it possibly use less gas?

  7. Alec says:

    If you’re having trouble understanding the right turn myth: Gas is wasted when the vehicle must come to a complete stop at a light. In other words, the kinetic energy could move the vehicle further if you don’t break.
    I can’t say anything about gas usage while waiting at a light, I don’t know about that.

    Going “around the block” in the final test was a shorter route in the city test compared to the controlled test. So there is some distance at which it becomes worth it to go around the block.
    At least that’s what I conjecture.

    • i AM the law says:

      When turning right-on-red, you are still required to come to a complete stop, as per the red STOP lights in front of you. Always.

  8. Paul says:

    That was awesome with the water slide now only if was confirmed:)The video i say was almost fake or took years of practice with something like buster to make it the exact height and weight like an exact replica of him but it was still really cool and i would try it.But i don’t have the money or time.That was awesome and the show is go mythbusters!

  9. Jeff says:

    This also depends on how much traffic there is. If they tried this in the rural area I live in the results would be much different.

  10. SuperSparky says:

    You people doubting the results of the right turn myth obviously have no clue about city driving and deliveries. Anyone that has attempted to drive through congested city traffic will affirm to the fact that right turn delivery routes not only save fuel but also save time. It has nothing to do with distance, but everything to do time and momentum.

    Many cities have yield only left turns, which means that not many vehicles make it left on the green light. That is a nightmare if you are in a large delivery vehicle. It’s much easier, and quicker to just drive around the block to be with the rest of the green light traffic than to hope you can even make it to the front of the left turn lane to attempt a left turn.

    You also have to deal with the “I am too afraid” drivers holding up traffic for yielding left turns as well. They usually just sit in the intersection until the light turns red and then they continue.

    San Francisco is a congested city, but nothing like Chicago or New York City. Nevertheless, the myth was proven. It would have been even a more pronounced result in New York City.

    Man, some people just have no clue. Go outside once in a while. Experience in a congested city and common sense made this “myth” make sense.

  11. SuperSparky says:

    Having slid down my fair share of water slides, I can only wonder if their speed and distance could have been improved if the slide’s surface was curved and not flat with barriers. Seriously, a half pipe shape would have been safe, but also would have been faster and more stable.

    I noticed they expended energy to stabilize their slide by spreading their legs and hands. This meant that some energy was used for that instead of acceleration. This friction slowed them down. Had they dug a curved ditch and placed their liner in that, there would not have been a need to have to course adjust their descent, nor cause any unnecessary friction.

    This half pipe is the shape of choice for water parks with high speed slides.

    Also, the slide in the video (though obviously CG) was more gracefully curved. Whereas the Mythbusters’ was straight with a dramatic angle change at the end. The graceful curve would have also introduced much less friction, and much less stress on the sliders.

    I would have bet they could have gained at least 30 feet had they had a slide like that.

    Granted, the slide in the video was flat, but isn’t the Mythbusters one to replicate the results even after the busting?

  12. max says:

    some ppl just dont know about engines and idling a diesel truck would not use more fuel by idling wth get some smartness to ya lol

  13. max says:

    newer diesel engines run completely different to a brand new one i know from experience some engines run different from others even if they are the same you have to have two exact same engines

  14. bill says:

    this was a dangerous episode. with the pool that shallow someone could get hurt

  15. Bob says:

    I couldn’t find a way to contact you with another possibility for your show.
    I got an email with a film clip showing a newish prototype gullwing from Mercedes. The car was shown driving through a tunnel and doing a James Bondian roll up the wall across the roof and down the other side.
    An engineer friend said the roll rate, tunnel radius, etc seemed to make it possible but I’m still skeptical.
    If you’re interested send me an email and I’ll send you a copy of the video.

    • MSpears says:

      It’s possible, IF the car generates more downforce than it actually weighs. The Koenigsegg CCR8S can actually do this too.

  16. Milira says:

    I have been driving for many years and can’t seem to remember any blocks that taking a right hand turn does not require atleast a momentary stop like a stop sign or a light. Taking this into account I doubt this method will save fuel or time.

  17. Charles says:

    I am assuming that the right hand turn will be reversed when driving somewhere like the UK or Japan?

  18. Georgia Fan says:

    More Support for Right Turns: One fact on the right turn savings that everyone has overlooked is the ability to turn Right on Red (if you yield). This is a tremendous savings and even more so in less congested areas. Also the cost of the fuel is FAR LESS than the cost of the labor- even if you doubled the current price per gallon.

  19. joey says:

    i have a myth. well when ever i open a bottle and the top is on tight i tap it three times then breath on it and it open.

  20. Walt says:

    For right hand drive postal vehicles, it is safer to turn right just because we can’t see oncoming traffic. We must wait until it is so overwelmingly clear, that it is safe. That is why most of the turns on our routes are right turns and not left turns. Safety.

  21. Bojan says:

    I am amazed how people are ignorant, but willing to suggestible share own opinion. My friendly suggestion is to learn physics in order to understand the nature of myth and then you will have 90% of answer. Typical example are first 5 comments on right turn myth…

    Combination of ignorance and logic may be very dangerous!

  22. Willie says:

    UPS drivers in suburban or urban areas are trained to make mostly right hand turns as it, according to UPS studies, does save on fuel costs.

  23. pieter says:

    Dont mind all these critics it doesnt matter the out come of the myths, what matters is that the show is intertaining and it intertains the hell out of me. you guys rock. ps be strong buster for all of us and thanx for taking millions for the team. from South Africa JHB

  24. Jesus says:

    Why even bother testing this? UPS has proven it’s legitimacy in real world use. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/09/magazine/09left-handturn.html?ex=1354856400&en=c9a577b0fac3b645&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

    UPS is a numbers-based company. Had that software cost them money, they would have dumped it immediately. Even the cost of tire-wear was taken into account and right hand turns still proved a winner.

  25. michael says:

    to all the pepol complaing about the righthand turn myth

    the whole point of myth busters is they actuley DO these things to see if it is true just saying they actuley drove a delevery route and messered the fule used and it WAS less now eather come up with a critisum of there methord (E.G van was not heavy enought, not long enought rought, bad driving) or ecept the result

    • No One says:

      That is the worst English I’ve read in a long time.

      goo goo ga ga?

  26. Russ says:

    After watching the giant waterslide episode one thing became clear, the mythbusters have no skills at watersliding. Regardless of the fact that the video may be fake I believe the myth is plausable because if all you needed to do to get the required distance would be to raise your speed to 40 mph this could easily be acomplished with proper technic.

  27. Rog says:

    You guys are failing to understand the right turning myth. The use the term ‘fuel efficiency’, which is the amount of fuel used per distance traveled. Turning right three times uses MORE fuel, but you travel more distance, and because you are not sitting at the lights (using fuel but travelling zero distance) then it is more fuel efficient. You don’t save any fuel by turning, you use more:

    “The results showed that by taking only right hand turns, the car managed to cover more distance in less time while only consuming about 1% more fuel.”

    This is a ridiculous “myth”.

    • MSpears says:

      Rog, did you even read the article on the link Jesus gave you? When you have as many big vehicles as UPS does, making as few left turns as possible saved more than three million gallons of gas in just one year.

  28. Dover says:

    This actually has scientific backing… Newtons 1st Law: object in motion will stay in motion, object at rest will stay at rest. The idling isn’t what kills fuel efficiency, it’s start/stop. Especially with a large heavy vehicle, the inertia that must be overcome every time the vehicle is stopped and restarted will eat a large amount of gas. (This is why highway mileage is better on conventional vehicles)

    As long as the right turn distance gained isn’t rediculous, on a long trip such as the delivery truck, overall fuel efficiency AND net fuel savings can be achieved.

  29. leo says:

    accelerating uses more fuel than driving at the same speed
    that is the correct answer

  30. Katelynn says:

    What’s the name of that man made lake and why is it so blue?

  31. Dan says:

    Just wanted to point out that from the original waterslide video, it’s impossible to determine the slope of the slide. There’s no reference point for 0 slope relative to the hill on which the slide is built. The hill may have been much steeper than perceived.

  32. Mike says:
  33. Cesar says:

    Could have saved money on this showed and just asked UPS for their data.

  34. Jim says:

    If you’ve ever driven an 18 wheeler (or even a long box truck) you know that it’s actually easier to make left hand turns based on turning radius – which is a more important criterion in city delivery navigation.

  35. Eric says:

    First this was NOT a test on a semi…it was a delivery truck. Based on this ep and UPS studies, why is it so hard to believe? The motion of going the extra distance is no different from the idling, waiting and what not. That burns more fuel. And for those saying well it takes longer well thats not what the myth was testing…it was testing fuel consumption. And apparently its worth the 15 extra cents an hour the drivers make taking the longer route to save the extra 20 cents in gas…or something along those lines

  36. Daniel says:

    It might have been more dangerous but if they had used the lubricant from the banana peel episode on the slip n slide they might have achieved more distance

  37. Jt says:

    Could you imagine seeing a truck with bomb graphic on its logo stop, some guy sprint out with a big red box, drop it on the ground and SPRINT away from it like it’s about to explode… It must have looked pretty
    sketchy.

  38. P.V. says:

    You guys should reduce friction. Using teflon pads under shoulders heels and butt will do the trick.

  39. Jae says:

    Doe any one know what was in the boxes they delivered?

  40. Jenya says:

    water slide in the video from YouTube has a different shape! unlike yours, it has more the way up, and more rounded. This allows not to lose speed on a sharp move up in your case.

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