(19)
(11)EP 2 275 887 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
05.06.2013 Bulletin 2013/23

(21)Application number: 10182716.0

(22)Date of filing:  12.04.2006
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G05B 19/048  (2006.01)
A61G 5/04  (2013.01)

(54)

Electronic control system

Elektronisches Steuerungssystem

Système de contrôle électronique


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC NL PL PT RO SE SI SK TR

(30)Priority: 15.04.2005 GB 0507740

(43)Date of publication of application:
19.01.2011 Bulletin 2011/03

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
06007688.2 / 1712964

(73)Proprietor: Penny & Giles Controls Limited
Dorset BH23 3TG (GB)

(72)Inventors:
  • Clapperton, Alex John
    Poole, Dorset BH12 3DQ (GB)
  • Taylor, David Huw
    Sopley, Dorset BH23 7AZ (GB)

(74)Representative: Davies, Gregory Mark 
Urquhart-Dykes & Lord LLP 7th Floor, Churchill House Churchill Way
Cardiff CF10 2HH
Cardiff CF10 2HH (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A- 0 125 011
US-A- 5 274 311
FR-A- 2 570 505
US-A1- 2005 080 533
  
  • DYNAMIC: "Commando The new force in powerchair control", 20010101, no. 1, 31 December 2001 (2001-12-31), pages 1-80, XP007916780,
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description


[0001] The present invention relates to a status indicating device for an electronic system and particularly but not exclusively to an electronic control system for a vehicle such as a wheelchair.

[0002] Electronic control systems are known in which a controller controls operation of output modules or power modules for a mechanical or other system. For example vehicles, such as wheelchairs, are known in which typically a joystick module can be connected to a power module to provide basic drive to the wheelchair. In more complex applications however, it is necessary to provide control for further modules such as seating control and lights control, all operable from the same controller. It is also important to ensure that systems permit operation in only safe modes, dependent upon the configuration or state of the system at any particular instance of demand from the controller.

[0003] The manual for the Commander Series Power Chair Controller from Dynamic describes a controller that allows an external device to make requests to the controller in order to set different output modes of operation. The controller is programmable so that it can control various external devices based on the measured loop resistance within one or more external devices. The controller drives motors and/or actuators which perform particular functions (driving or moving particular elements) of the wheelchair. Since there are several operations which may be monitored and controlled by the Commando controller, there exist at least six indication states which are achieved by means of impedances and switches. For example there is shown an arrangement in which the chair speed is reduced to 60% when the seat is raised above a first height and in which the chair is stopped when the seat is raised above a second height. This is achieved using the impedance and a switch arrangement in the DCI loop having three possible states. The first being a short circuit, the second being an open circuit and the third being a 120 Ω impedance. The actual values of the impedance are transmitted as the DCI to the controller.

[0004] An improved system has been devised.

[0005] In accordance with this invention as seen from a first aspect there is provided a status indicating device arranged to produce a control status output from the status indicating device indicative of the control status of an electrical or electronic device or circuit, the status indicating device being capable of producing three or more control status bands and operating to provide one of the three or more control status bands as the control status output, wherein the control status band of the status indicating device is dependent upon the external impedance applied across the status indicating device, as described in the accompanying claims.

[0006] Preferably, the control status output being one of a predetermined plurality of control status bands corresponds to a plurality of discrete status levels.

[0007] Desirably, a single control status band of the control status output corresponds to a range of external impedance values across the status indicating device.

[0008] Preferably, the band widths of the output control status bands and/or band levels of the output control status bands of the status indicating device are programmable.

[0009] It is preferred that, the control status output of the status indicating device is characterised by a plurality of discrete status levels. Beneficially, the control status is characterised by three or more discrete status levels. Desirably the discrete levels define bands having upper and/or lower thresholds.

[0010] In one embodiment the status levels may be determined with reference to the electrical impedance externally applied across the status indicating device. For example where the status indicating device is monitoring seat pressure, backrest angle and seat height of a powered wheelchair vehicle, the impedance will vary dependent upon the physical parameters and be output as different output bands dependant upon the impedance across the status indicating device. Where for example a limit switch is used resulting in an open or closed circuit the impedance will vary from maximum as one band to zero as another band. Where for example a mercury switch is used, a band can be assigned a debounce time falling within a defined range.

[0011] Preferably, the control status levels, bands or thresholds are programmable.

[0012] The control status of a said status indicating device is preferably broadcast from the status indicating device.

[0013] Beneficially the status output is only caused to be broadcast from the status indicating device when changing from one band to another.

[0014] A preferred embodiment of this invention will now be described by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a schematic representation of the electronic system having a status indicating device of the present invention; and,

Figure 2 is a circuit diagram illustrating an embodiment of an external arrangement for connection to a status indicating device in of the present invention.



[0015] Referring to figure 1, there is shown a control system 10 comprising a joystick controller device 11 and a plurality of controller responsive devices 12, 13, 14 arranged to respond to commands from the controller 11. In the drawings, module 13 is a power module and module 14 an intelligent seating module, able to modify tilt, attitude and orientation of the seating arrangement of a powered wheelchair. The operation of each controller responsive device 12, 13, 14 is controlled by the controller 11 via a bus based system 15.

[0016] The electronic system 10 is provided with one or more status indicating (SI) devices 16. The SI devices 16 are shown mounted to the controller responsive devices 12,13,14 but operably, and in practice need not be so mounted. For example all SI devices 16 could be mounted on a separate SI module (not shown). A control status output related to the impedance connected externally across the respective SI device is communicated to the devices 12, 13, 14. . The control status output gives an indication of the status of the respective arrangement monitored by the respective SI device 16. The control status output from the SI devices 16 influences the behaviour of the devices 12, 13, 14 by tailoring the operational potential of the devices in accordance with a predetermined protocol regime. The controller responsive devices 12,13,14 of the system may be arranged such that a selected SI device 16 can influence the behaviour of a specific, assigned, respective responsive device, or a specifically assigned group of controller responsive devices to which that particular status indicating device is assigned. In this way SI devices 16 can be assigned to influence respective ones or groups of controller responsive devices 12,13,14 in the system 10. More than one SI device can be assigned to influence the operation of a controller responsive device 12,13,14.

[0017] The system is designed such that the control status output of each SI device 16 will be one of four status bands. The control status is determined by the electrical impedance of the physical arrangement connected across the SI device 16. For example in the arrangement shown in Figure 2, an SI device monitors the impedance of an external circuit governing occupancy and orientation of the seat of a wheel chair. By defining three discrete electrical impedance levels, four separate bands of control can be established such that each control band has an upper and lower impedance threshold. In this manner, the electrical impedance of the circuit shown in Figure 2 will determine the control status output of the respective SI device.

[0018] The threshold electrical impedance for each control band can be pre-set or individually selected to tailor the state of control to the requirements of the user. The system is programmable to achieve this.

[0019] The SI devices 16 may be assigned to influence operation of any responsive devices in the system.

[0020] The system embodied in figure 1 is designed to accommodate up to 32 SI devices; each SI device 16 can be set up in the following way to create four control states presented to the controller:
SI X Lower level threshold = a
SI X Middle level threshold = b
SI X Upper level threshold = c
SI X Debounce time = 50ms-500ms
where X can take any value from 2 to 33, and 0 < a < b < c where a, b and c are pre-defined electrical impedance values. The debounce time is relevant to accurately reflect the status for certain devices such a mercury switches. A threshold value of 0 represents 0 Ohm impedance and a value of 100 represents 10K Ohm impedance in this instance. The four bands defined by the three thresholds can be designated Band 0 to Band 3.

[0021] Each SI device 16 broadcasts its band status on the data bus 15 such that all other modules in the system are informed. The band status may only be broadcast when band status changes in order to minimise traffic on the data bus. The use of bands enables data traffic volume to be limited also.

[0022] There may be one or a number of responsive devices 12, 13, 14 in a particular system 10 and each SI device 16 can be assigned to affect none, some or all of them. The number assigned to a given responsive device 12, 13, 14 will depend on the responsive device in question. For example, up to five SI devices 16 can be assigned to influence the action of the power module 13 in the following manner:

Assign Source A = SI v

Assign Source B = SI w

Assign Source C = SI x

Assign Source D = SI y

Assign Source E = SI z

where v, w, x, y and z = 2 to 33.

[0023] Such an assignment gives the power module 5 separate control influences which can be used, for example, to tailor operation to limit the speed of a vehicle, such as a wheelchair.

[0024] The use of control bands allows a user to tailor the system 10 to their requirements and further provides relatively complex functions with the minimum of hardware. Data traffic is also reduced when compared with other systems. For example, a wheelchair requiring half-speed if seat is high, half-speed if backrest is reclined, quarter-speed if seat is high and backrest is reclined and full inhibit if seat is unoccupied could be achieved with just one SI device, as shown in figure 2. It can be seen from figure 2 that if the seat is unoccupied then the circuit will be open, thereby isolating the controller device 11 and preventing any movement of the wheelchair.

[0025] Another example of potential use, is to allow a user to program seat positions which slows down or inhibits the wheelchair. This can be achieved by connecting a potentiometer to a SI device 16 and allowing the user to program the thresholds of electrical impedance to suit the preferred requirements.

[0026] The use of SI devices 16 provide a highly flexible, capable system. A primary feature is that responsive devices designed in the future will interface into an existing system with the same degree of capability.

[0027] The invention has been described in specific embodiments and passenger devices such as wheelchairs have been referred to. It should be understood that the invention has wider applicability than these specific examples of use.


Claims

1. A status indicating device arranged to produce a control status output from the status indicating device indicative of the control status of an electrical or electronic device or circuit, the status indicating device being capable of creating three or more control status bands and operating to provide one of the three or more control status bands as the control status output, wherein the control status band of the status indicating device is dependent upon the external impedance applied across the status indicating device.
 
2. A status indicating device according to claim 1, wherein the control status output being one of a predetermined plurality of control status bands corresponds to a plurality of discrete status levels.
 
3. A status indicating device according to claim 2, wherein a single control status band of the control status output corresponds to a range of external impedance values across the status indicating device.
 
4. A status indicating device according to any preceding claim wherein the band widths of the output control status bands and/or band levels of the output control status bands of the status indicating device are programmable.
 


Ansprüche

1. Statusanzeigevorrichtung, die zum Erzeugen einer Steuerungsstatusausgabe aus der Statusanzeigevorrichtung ausgelegt ist, welche den Steuerungsstatus einer elektrischen oder elektronischen Vorrichtung oder Schaltung anzeigt, wobei die Statusanzeigevorrichtung zum Erzeugen von drei oder mehr Steuerungsstatusbändern imstande ist und so funktioniert, dass sie eines der drei oder der mehreren Steuerungsstatusbänder als die Steuerungsstatusausgabe bereitstellt, wobei das Steuerungsstatusband der Statusanzeigevorrichtung von der externen Impedanz abhängig ist, die über die Statusanzeigevorrichtung angelegt ist.
 
2. Statusanzeigevorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Steuerungsstatusausgabe eines von einer vorbestimmten Mehrzahl von Steuerungsstatusbändern ist, das einer Mehrzahl von diskreten Statuspegeln entspricht.
 
3. Statusanzeigevorrichtung nach Anspruch 2, wobei ein einziges Steuerungsstatusband der Steuerungsstatusausgabe einem Bereich von externen Impedanzwerten über die Statusanzeigevorrichtung entspricht.
 
4. Statusanzeigevorrichtung nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Bandbreiten der Steuerungsstatusausgabebänder und/oder Bandpegel der Steuerungsstatusausgabebänder der Statusanzeigevorrichtung programmierbar sind.
 


Revendications

1. Dispositif d'indication de statut agencé pour faire délivrer par le dispositif d'indication de statut une sortie de statut de contrôle qui indique le statut de contrôle d'un dispositif ou d'un circuit électrique ou électronique,
le dispositif d'indication de statut pouvant former trois ou plusieurs bandes de statut de contrôle et fonctionner de manière à délivrer l'une des trois ou plusieurs bandes de statut de contrôle en tant que sortie de statut de contrôle,
la bande de statut de contrôle du dispositif d'indication de statut dépendant de l'impédance appliquée de l'extérieur aux bornes du dispositif d'indication de statut.
 
2. Dispositif d'indication de statut selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la sortie de statut de contrôle est une parmi plusieurs bandes de statut de contrôle et correspond à plusieurs niveaux distincts de statut.
 
3. Dispositif d'indication de statut selon la revendication 2, dans lequel une unique bande de statut de contrôle de la sortie de statut de contrôle correspond à une plage de valeurs d'une impédance appliquée de l'extérieur aux bornes du dispositif d'indication de statut.
 
4. Dispositif d'indication de statut selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la largeur des bandes de statut de contrôle délivrées et/ou les niveaux des bandes de statut de contrôle délivrées par le dispositif d'indication de statut sont programmables.
 




Drawing