A new tool for building ski slopes and advanced ski jumps is made of high-strength steel from SSAB Swedish Steel Inc. The MultiCat tool was built to help construct slopes with jumps of varying heights, tight velodrome curves, and halfpipes, says a spokesman for Swedish developer Mekano I Malung AB. "Traditional preparation machines had fairly limited capacity," he explains. "It took a lot of manual work to get the right shape for slopes, halfpipes, and curves."

The new tool consists of a long, narrow sled-borne crane unit with interchangeable implements. These attach by a quick-release coupling; changeovers take just 5 min. Operators can control the crane and implements wirelessly with a remote control. Current attachments include a snow blower, lift cage, adjustable pipe cutter, grip hook, lifting hook, bucket, and transport carrier.

All structural components on the system are of high-strength steel. "The strength of the material gives a light, powerful design, as well as durable tools which can withstand severe weather," says Mekano's Ulf Thors, development head for the MultiCat. "The crane has a 13-m reach and a high degree of precision."

Arctic researchers may also employ the machine for handling oil barrels. Mountain rescue teams may tap it for removing trees.