For the record I don’t see this as a very viable idea but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s sort of fun to think about. And I’ve seen a lot of really good ideas evolve from some pretty bad ones, so who knows.
What if the chains were replaced with something rigid? Imagine a super long rack and pinion. The pinion would be driven by the motors and the 10 foot long rack would connect to the sled…
Of course you’d need a huge space for something like that with these giant “whiskers” whipping around.
Along similarly unrealistic lines I also was daydreaming about a complicated chain that had internal locking mechanisms in each link. As a link passes the sprocket the last tooth trips a little “lock” in the link that locks it with the link down the line. It would have to be a lock and unlock system (i.e. winding chain clockwise unlocks each link while winding chain counterclockwise locks each link.)
The locking chain idea could even be designed so that the chain is always stiff (locked) and is only flexible (unlocked) while a sprocket tooth is in it. This way you’d have stiff chain on both sides of the sprocket but it would flex over the sprocket.
Good inventions don’t come about without a little day dreaming…right?