The team attempts to repurpose an amazing technology to prevent runaway vehicles from crossing the median and smashing into oncoming traffic. Currently, aerated concrete arrestor beds are used at the end of airport runways and the only way to know how effective it will be on traffic, full-size cars will need to be crashed at serious velocity! Ultra-high-speed video cameras reveal what happens and will ultimate determine if the crumbly concrete barrier can do the trick.
The designers and engineers face the near-impossible challenge of using truck bed liner paint to protect an entire building from a massive explosion. After a remarkable test using two trucks, the team paints a purpose-built building with the material normally used to protect vehicles from scratches and knocks. Cameras shooting at 5,000 frames-per-second capture the action by the microsecond and reveal whether or not the building will survive.
Every year, hundreds of storms batter the United States causing millions of dollars of damage to property and wrecking lives. The Smash Test team thinks they've found the perfect solution for threatened homes -- a revolutionary new material made of carbon-fiber cloth originally designed to reinforce concrete support beams. The team puts it to the test by applying it to a mobile home before subjecting it to wind gusts up to 150 miles-per-hour.
The team takes on its biggest challenge yet -- repurposing a new material called Blastwrap. This material-filled membrane is used to soak up the energy from a bomb placed inside a public trashcan and the team thinks it can protect an entire Boeing 747 from a similar explosion. To simulate the process, the team finds a suitable sacrificial 747 and attempt pressurize the big bird despite it not having its doors.
Earthquakes strike without warning and require very little time to do unimaginable damage. Help is at hand, however, as the Smash Lab mavericks look for a home-saving solution in the hold of an aircraft. Aircrafts use a ball-bearing floor system to move cargo with almost zero friction -- a technology that may be used to isolate a house from a shaking ground. The final answer is found only after much testing and building an artificial earthquake machine capable of going right off the Richter scale.
There are nearly 3,000 incidents at railway crossings every year and when an 8,000-ton train hits a much smaller car, it's no contest. Using extreme experimentation, the Smash Lab team tests an idea that could save hundreds of lives involving giant airbags mountain to a cow catcher on the front of a train designed to push cars to safety. And as always, the results are in exquisite high definition.
The Smash Lab team sets out to improve the chances occupants have of escaping buildings on fire. Roller coasters use amazing magnetic brakes with no moving parts the team thinks could also be used for an automatic vertical escape system. To see if it works, a stuntman must slide down a hundred-foot tower with only the freaky power of Smash Lab's 21st-Century fire escape standing between him and a sticky ending.
Forest fires endanger lives and property every year so the Smash Lab team sets out to see if Nanogel -- a cutting-edge insulating material -- can protect a house from nature's mightiest infernos. The light material is supplied in granular form and is a solid that flows flows like water. The team uses this material to construct a fire-proof blanket with unbelievable properties but must first figure how how to throw it over a building and find a tame forest fire before they can test it.
Millions of Americans travel while towing all kinds of heavy trailers but what happens when the brakes burn out while going downhill? The Smash Lab crew has an idea that involves using retro firing rockets to bring trailers to a safe, controlled stop -- a not-so-crazy notion that could be both safe and reliable. After an extended bout of rocket science, the team comes to grips with space shuttle technology for the road.
Blowing air through a bed of sand turns it into instant quicksand and the Smash Lab team has big plans for it. At the flick of a switch, the team turns the ground into a bed of fluidized sand that couple help stop bank robberies and powerful getaway trucks loaded with bullion. The best ideas are often the simplest ones but engineering a huge bed of sand to become fluid is a big task that will take all of the team's ingenuity and skills to pull off.
Out of range of helicopters, stranded sailors often have to wait for a passing ship to bring salvation -- an opportunity that may be days away. The Smash Lab team decides to use top-secret torpedo technology to revolutionize mid-ocean rescue with a coast guard life boat that can be dropped out of a long-range plane. The principal is to use a phenomenon called super-cavitation where a high velocity stream of gas bubbles is blasted from the nose of an object as it travels through water. The system would allow a coast guard boat to be flown right to the scene of the accident, have it deployed right into the water and bring a full crew with it.
The Smash Lab team thinks they can use CO2 fire extinguishers to solve a problem that has plagued the police for decades -- bad guys in high-speed chases. The team designs a system to deploy carbon monoxide that will snuff out the engine of the car the police are pursuing. If they want it to work, however, they must first find a way to target the gas each and every time and deploy it.
The Smash Lab crew dons their lifejackets and takes to the water hoping to use parachute technology to eject someone from an out-of-control speedboat. The team sends two speedboats toward each other hoping to eject someone in time to escape the crash zone -- the ejection must be fast enough to get the would-be victim out of harm's way, but also lets them down slow enough to avoid injury once they hit the water.
The Smash Lab crew is tasked with finding a way to make driving off a cliff in a car survivable. Chuck and Gadget go for airbags fitted on the outside of the car while Deanne and Nathaniel compete with stabilizing rods that shoot out from all sides.
It's the middle of winter and a couple is stranded in massive snowdrifts. They're out of cell phone range, the snowplow isn't coming by anytime soon and to make matters worse, she's pregnant. Smash Lab resorts to extreme engineering to help out the troubled couple. Chuck and Gadget begin working on a jet-powered snowplow while Nathaniel and Deanne devise a hot-air balloon that could pop right out of the car.
A car experiencing front-impact smash and a t-bone crunch at 55 miles per hour is a pretty alarming scene but the Smash Lab crew thinks they how to make a car survive it. They're trying out reactive armor technology and a cool new metal-aluminum foam to make the ultimate crash-proof car.
Almost nothing can stop a determined hijacker driving a stolen 18 wheeler at top speed. In what will be Smash Lab's toughest challenges yet, Chuck and Gadget devise ways to jam the drive wheels and deliver a knock-out punch to the drive while Nathaniel and Deanne adapt technology from aircraft carriers.
Escape seems almost impossible for the victims of a car that has flown off the road and into the sea but not for Smash Lab! Chuck and Nathaniel float an idea to make an unsinkable car while Deanne and Gadget get busy with another problem -- rescuing a woman who has gone overboard.
Inspired by the Poseidon Adventure, the Smash Lab crew find themselves trapped in a capsized boat with very different ideas about escaping. Chuck and Gadget build themselves a portable, collapsible submarine to dive their way out while Deanne and Nathaniel think the only way out is up and work on different ways to cut their way to freedom.
A fully loaded logging truck skids out of control on a wet road in the mountains of Oregon and spectacularly crashes. The Smash Lab turns to the world of motor racing and vacuum power to keep the truck on the road and prevent a rolling Redwood disaster.