Idiot Engineering #1 - Jurassic World
2015 June 28

I just decided to start a series about idiotic engineering in movies. The first movie I’m going to do is Jurassic World. Which is an awesome movie, however it is full of idiot engineering. So fair warning there will be spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen it stop reading now, or keep reading for a detailed examination of the engineering failures in Jurassic World, and how they could have been prevented.

Now first a refresher on what happened in Jurassic World. The plot basically involves a super intelligent designer dinosaur breaking out of it’s enclosure. I will refer to the escaped dinosaur as Rex from now on. Rex escapes due to the poor design of the containment system. However, there are even more failures in the design of the park from the monitoring implants to the gyroballs. The various design failures of the park will be examined, and what could have been done to prevent the tragedy caused by Rex’s escape.

Design Failures of the Containment System

There are huge number of design failures lurking in the containment system of the park, especially because the park is painted as having extremely advanced technology. The monitoring system should correlate data from multiple sources, such as the GPS coordinates of the dinosaurs, infrared cameras and vibration sensors to verify the location of dangerous dinosaurs. That would have prevented the escape of Rex, because there wouldn’t have been a need to enter the cage to check if it escaped. However, if they absolutely needed to enter the cage they should have used a drone to examine the cage and make sure it was safe before entering.

Another design failure is Rex’s enclosure. The first failure is the design of the door, which slides into the wall. There are so many problems with having the door slide into the wall, as it could be wedged open if the hydraulics fail and it adds another layer of complexity. A better door design is one that pivots into the enclosure, as if Rex tries to run through it when being closed, Rex will just close the door. Another failure is the lack of human sized doors in the enclosure, the big door should be on the other side of the enclosure. In fact, the entire design of Rex’s enclosure could be massively improved. See the drawing below for an improved design of Rex’s enclosure.

A better enclosure for *Indominus Rex*

The next major failure is the implants used to monitor the dinosaurs, and prevent them from posing a danger to the guests. The very fact that Rex could claw out his implant makes them completely useless. When they implant tracker chips into pets they put them into a spot they can’t reach, so why wasn’t Rex’s chip placed somewhere he couldn’t claw it out. Another failure of the chips is that it doesn’t shock Rex immediately after it escapes the enclosure. They explicitly state in the movie that the implant will shock him if he gets too close to a guests area. Why is there that requirement to engage the shocker? The entire purpose of the implant is to prevent escapes and accelerate the capture escaped creatures, so it fails at it’s only purpose. The implants would have been much better had they had a full sensor suite to facilitate monitoring and been implanted into the back of the neck like such chips are implanted on pets.

Finally, there is a lack of safety measures to protect the workers from carnivores, there are poor checks to make sure that workers don’t fall into the enclosure of dangerous animals. If the workers are doing things where they could possibly fall into the enclosure, they should be wearing safety harnesses attached to an overhead system like what a ropes course would have. This is shown to be a major flaw when a worker attempts to pull a pig out of the raptor cage, but is dragged into the cage with the pig. This should have been obvious, as they state that other workers have fallen into that cage doing that exact task, so why would they make this change to improve worker safety, after all shouldn’t this park be following OSHA rules to ensure worker safety.

Failures of the Emergency Handling System

There were numerous failures in the design of the emergency system. Especially, with the gyroballs and lock down of the main building. An emergency system should protect the guests, and minimize danger from the attractions. However, Jurassic World’s emergency handling leaves much to be desired, as it doesn’t do a very good job of protecting guests from danger. There are many ways for this to be improved.

First of all, in the case of an emergency the gyroballs should return to home whether the guest likes it or not. Allowing the guest to stay out a long time in the case of an emergency is a bad idea, and an automatic return home feature in the gyroball would help speed up the guests return to safety. Another failure of the safety system of the gyroball is the lack of bounds checking to prevent entry into restricted areas, the very fact that the brothers could go off road in the movie is a massive oversight, and a complete failure of guest safety. As such the gyroballs have many problems from a safety point of view, but what does safety matter when they are awesome.

Other flaws in the emergency handling system is not having the alert played over the PA system, and proper safety procedures for the escape of flying animals. In fact, there is a stunning lack of proper safety procedures for the size of the park and the danger of the creatures that live there. So overall, the handling of emergencies at Jurassic World is quite poor.

Computer System Failures

There were several glaring errors made by the programmers who designed the computer system of Jurassic World. These errors include a lack of remote administration, bounds checking, and error recovery in the control systems of the park. The lack of remote administration is very serious, as all of the attractions should be controllable from the main control room. The control room should have been able to take control of an attraction at anytime to handle guests not following orders. Another error is the lack of bounds checking for all things that are supposed to be location restricted. The biggest flaw in the system is the lack of error recovery in the systems at Jurassic World. These might not be glaring errors, but they certainly are oversights by the designers of the computer system at Jurassic World.

The first of the errors is the lack of remote administration of the attractions. This is a giant flaw because the control room should allow complete control of any attraction at Jurassic World. If this was included in the controls, the control room could have had the two brothers in the gyroball return immediately. Evidence that this feature does not exist includes the fact that they had to go on a search and rescue mission to get the brothers. That is a big problem, because the park staff shouldn’t have to waste personal to do search and rescue missions for guests who can’t follow commands when a monster as dangerous as Rex is loose in the park.

Another design error is the total lack of location bounds checks on things that need to be bound to a specific location. This error is especially glaring, because it would have saved so much effort for the personal at Jurassic World, and could have saved so many lives during the movie. The total lack of this feature is shown by the two brothers entering a restricted area with a gyroball, and the very fact that the dinosaurs can leave their pens without getting shocked. The lack of shocking being included in the implants is a serious oversight by the hardware engineer who designed it. It’s even more annoying, because lightweight algorithms exist to test if a point is within a specific bounded area. Had location bounds checking been implemented properly, many lives would have been saved.

Finally, the most glaring design oversight of all is the total lack of any error recovery in any of the systems at Jurassic World. The total lack of error recovery is complete and utter lunacy on the part of the programmers. The total lack of error recovery is shown by the animals escaping their enclosures without having the implant stop them. The animals escaping is most definitely a major error that should have hesitated immediate action by the software running the implant, but there was no action. The complete and total lack of good error recovery is a flaw that can not be overlooked, because it is so easy to implement proper error recovery in just about any programming language, that it is a sin not to do it.

So some of the blame should be shared with programmers who built the failed system. The failures of the computer system are so obvious and are a such an embarrassment to programmers everywhere. They forgot to include remote administration of attractions, proper bounds checking, and worst of all error recovery. These people who implemented this system obviously didn’t know what they were doing, and should be held completely liable for their failings. Had they properly implemented any of the features listed above lives could have been saved, but they didn’t.

Closing Up

These many engineering errors don’t detract from quality of the movie. This article is meant to point out failures that should have been avoided by the engineers in the movie, and hopefully we can learn from their failures. So that these errors aren’t made in the real world, as if these errors were made in the real world, it would be a true disaster. After all, hindsight is 20/20, so in retrospect, without these errors, there wouldn’t have been a movie, and it would not have been such a ripe target for pointing out engineering flaws. So, the errors really did make the movie.

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Written by Henry J Schmale on 2015 June 28
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