(19)
(11)EP 3 501 913 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
26.06.2019 Bulletin 2019/26

(21)Application number: 18212773.8

(22)Date of filing:  14.12.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B60R 21/232(2011.01)
B60R 21/2338(2011.01)
B60R 21/231(2011.01)
B60R 21/233(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 19.12.2017 GB 201721336

(71)Applicant: Ford Global Technologies, LLC
Dearborn, MI 48126 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • WARD, Marcus John Scott
    Billericay, Essex CM12 0FD (GB)
  • GRINDLE, Barry
    Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4AT (GB)
  • SWINIARSKI, Michal
    Brentwood, Essex CM14 4YN (GB)

(74)Representative: Stratagem IPM Limited 
Meridian Court Comberton Road
Toft, Cambridge CB23 2RY
Toft, Cambridge CB23 2RY (GB)

  


(54)SIDE CURTAIN AIRBAG


(57) The invention relates to a side curtain airbag for motor vehicles, in particular a side curtain bag which provides greater resistance to impact and thereby reduces the distance of travel of the head of a motor vehicle occupant beyond the side window glass during a side impact collision.
1. A side curtain airbag for a motor vehicle which is deployable from a motor vehicle ceiling or a motor vehicle side window sill, the airbag comprising a first inflatable portion (101) configured when inflated to cover and be in spaced alignment with a side window:
(a) wherein, when the airbag is deployed, an outboard panel of the first inflatable portion adopts a profile curving into the motor vehicle passenger compartment, wherein the outboard panel comprises one or more horizontal pleats; or
(b) wherein the first inflatable portion additionally comprises one or more additional inflatable portions in fluid communication with the first inflatable portion, the one or more additional inflatable portions configured, when inflated, to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the side window, wherein the one or more additional inflatable portions are juxtaposed the exterior surface of an outboard panel, and distal from the ceiling when the air bag is deployed from the ceiling and rests upon the window sill, or distal from the window sill when the air bag is deployed from the window sill and rests on the ceiling.

2. A side curtain airbag according to claim 1, wherein the first inflatable portion comprises an outboard panel (105) having a first perimeter edge and a first vertical length and an inboard panel having a second perimeter edge and a second vertical length, the outboard and inboard panels joined together around their first and second perimeter edges thereby to form an enclosed volume, wherein when the first inflatable portion is inflated an exterior surface of the outboard panel faces towards the window, and wherein at least 50 % of the area of the exterior surface of the outboard panel is in spaced alignment with the window.
3. A side curtain airbag according to claim 1 or claim 2, wherein a horizontal mid-line of the exterior surface of the outboard panel when the inflatable panel is inflated is at least 5 cm from any point of the window.
4. A side curtain airbag according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the one or more additional inflatable portions are in the form, when inflated:
(i) of one or more horizontal bars; or
(ii) a plurality of fingers arranged along a substantially horizontal line.






Description


[0001] The invention relates to a side curtain airbag for motor vehicles, in particular a side curtain bag which provides greater resistance to impact and thereby reduces the distance of travel of the head of a motor vehicle occupant beyond the side window glass during a side impact collision.

[0002] A side curtain airbag is designed to cover the side window glass of a motor vehicle in the event of a side impact collision, and operate in conjunction with other airbags such as driver airbags, passenger airbags, side (torso) airbags, and knee airbags. A side curtain airbag normally deploys from under the roof lining hanging curtain-like from the roof when inflated. Side curtain airbags aim to prevent ejection of motor vehicle occupants or their limbs from the cabin, or intrusion of debris, such as broken glass or flying metal, into the cabin, thereby to reduce injuries such as broken bones, cuts or bruises.

[0003] The airbag normally deploys for less than a second, but when the motor vehicle is rolling over, some can deploy for several seconds to compensate for the additional time the motor vehicle occupants are at risk.

[0004] A side curtain airbag has been designed for convertible motor vehicles which deploys from the parapet of the door with the bottom of the airbag remaining secured to the parapet of the door. The term "parapet" is used, in this specification, to denote the region of the door at the base of the window.

[0005] Airbags are manufactured from a flexible but airtight fabric such as nylon or polyester, and operate with a sensor which triggers a gas inflator to inflate the airbag under collision conditions. All airbags have vents which allow the gas to escape after deployment.

[0006] DE 10 2009 021 045 (Dürschinger) discloses a side airbag comprising two inflatable impact protection cushions where one of the cushions is laterally fastened to a backrest below a lining and the other cushion is laterally fastened to a motor vehicle seat below another lining. Each cushion is filled with gas by a gas generator through appropriate gas filler openings. A rope is fastened to the seat and the backrest such that a banana-shaped cross section is formed toward a vehicle centre. A seat belt is attached below the rope in transition from the seat to the backrest in a resting condition. The side airbag is suited to protect the torso from a side impact collision.

[0007] US 2011/0215557 (Ford Global Technologies LLC) discloses a side airbag for a motor vehicle including an outboard panel having a perimeter edge and a first vertical length, and an inboard panel having a perimeter edge and a second vertical length shorter than the first vertical length, the inboard and outboard panels joined to one another around their respective perimeter edges to form an enclosed volume such that when the airbag is inflated a mid-thickness line is concave toward the inboard panel. When the inflated airbag is positioned between an occupant seat and a side wall of the vehicle, the inboard-curved shape provides early engagement between an occupant of the seat and the airbag to offer improved protection for the head and neck. According to paragraph [0026] of US 2011/0215557, computer modelling and other testing has indicated that a side airbag with an inboard-curved shape may reduce levels of tension and/or shear forces experienced by the occupant's neck in a side impact collision.

[0008] KR 2013 0008338 (Autoliv development AB) discloses a side airbag module for a car seat comprising an airbag, an inflator, and a deployment shape maintaining member. The airbag is installed at one side of a back rest of a vehicle seat. The inflator deploys the airbag by supplying gas to the airbag. The deployment shape maintaining member bulbously maintains the airbag towards a passenger.

Summary of the invention



[0009] The invention provides a side curtain airbag for a motor vehicle which is deployable from a roof of the motor vehicle or a passenger door of the motor vehicle, the airbag comprising a first inflatable portion configured when inflated to cover and be in spaced alignment with side window glass of at least one passenger door.

[0010] The first inflatable portion may comprise an outboard panel having a first perimeter edge and a first vertical length and an inboard panel having a second perimeter edge and a second vertical length, the outboard and inboard panels joined together around their first and second perimeter edges thereby to form an enclosed volume, wherein when the first inflatable portion is inflated an exterior surface of the outboard panel faces towards the window glass, and wherein at least 50 % of the area of the exterior surface of the outboard panel is in spaced alignment with an opposing and inboard surface of the window glass.

[0011] The side curtain airbag may be configured such that a horizontal mid-line of the exterior surface of the outboard panel when the inflatable panel is inflated is at least 5 cm from any point on the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass.

[0012] The side curtain airbag may be configured such that when the first inflatable portion is inflated the exterior surface of the outboard panel adopts a concave profile with respect to the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass when viewed in a plane perpendicular to the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass. The first vertical length may be less than the second vertical length. The outboard panel may comprise one or more horizontal pleats.

[0013] The airbag may additionally comprise at least one tether, the at least one tether comprising a first and a second end, wherein
  1. (a) the first end is attached to a top of the airbag and the second end is attached to a bottom of the airbag, or
  2. (b) the first end is attached to a top of the airbag and the second end is attached to a parapet of the passenger door when the airbag is deployed from the door, or
  3. (c) the first end is attached to the roof and the second end is attached to a bottom of the airbag when the airbag is deployed from the roof,
wherein the length of the tether is less than the length from the top to the bottom of the airbag when the airbag is untethered.

[0014] The first inflatable portion may additionally comprises one or more additional inflatable portions in fluid communication with the first inflatable portion, the one or more additional inflatable portions configured, when inflated, to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass. The one or more additional inflatable portions may be juxtaposed the exterior surface of the outboard panel, and distal from the roof when the air bag is deployed from the roof of the motor vehicle, or distal from the passenger door when the air bag is deployed from the passenger door of the motor vehicle thereby to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass.

[0015] The one or more additional inflatable portions may be in the form of, when inflated:
  1. (a) one or more horizontal bars; or
  2. (b) a plurality of fingers arranged along a substantially horizontal line.


[0016] A side curtain airbag, deployable from a roof of the motor vehicle or a passenger door of the motor vehicle, is designed to cover the side window glass of a motor vehicle in the event of a side impact collision and prevents, on the one hand, ejection of motor vehicle occupants or their limbs from the cabin, and on the other, intrusion of broken glass or flying metal into the cabin, thereby to reduce injuries such as broken bones, cuts or bruises sustained by the motor vehicle occupants.

[0017] The side curtain airbag of the invention is designed, when inflated, to not only cover but additionally be offset away from the side window glass into the interior of the motor vehicle cabin, thereby to minimise lateral head travel on side impact collision, in particular lateral head travel beyond the plane of the side window glass. Thus the term "spaced alignment" means, in this specification, that the first inflatable portion is offset from but still covering or in front of the window glass.

Brief Description of the figures



[0018] The invention is now described in more detail with reference to:

Figures 1a to 1c which illustrates a first embodiment of the invention;

Figures 2a and 2b which illustrates a second embodiment of the invention;

Figures 3a to 3c which illustrates a third embodiment of the invention; and

Figures 4a and 4b which illustrates a fourth embodiment of the invention.


Detailed description of the invention



[0019] The invention provides a side curtain airbag for a motor vehicle which is deployable from a roof of the motor vehicle or a passenger door of the motor vehicle, the airbag comprising a first inflatable portion configured when inflated to cover and be in spaced alignment with side window glass of at least one passenger door.

[0020] The term "vertical length" means, in this specification, the length of the outboard panel from top to bottom as measured along its surface when the airbag is inflated.

[0021] The first inflatable portion can comprise an outboard panel having a first perimeter edge and a first vertical length and an inboard panel having a second perimeter edge and a second vertical length, the outboard and inboard panels joined together around their first and second perimeter edges thereby to form an enclosed volume, wherein when the first inflatable portion is inflated an exterior surface of the outboard panel faces towards the window glass, and wherein at least 50 %, preferably at least 60 %, most preferably at least 70 % of the area of the exterior surface of the outboard panel is in spaced alignment with an opposing surface of the window glass. 100 % of the area of the exterior surface of the outboard panel can be in spaced alignment with an opposing and inboard surface of the window glass.

[0022] This embodiment of the invention relates to an airbag wherein part of the first inflatable portion is, when inflated, still in contact with the window glass, rather than in spaced alignment.

[0023] The term "horizontal mid-line" means, in this specification and in this context, a horizontal line drawn through the midpoint on the vertical axis of the exterior surface of the outboard panel when the inflatable panel is inflated.
The horizontal mid-line of the exterior surface of the outboard panel when the inflatable panel is inflated may be at least 5 cm, preferably at least 10 cm, most preferably at least 15 cm from any point on the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass. The horizontal mid-line of the exterior surface of the outboard panel when the inflatable panel is inflated may be no more than 30 cm, preferably no more than 25 cm from any point on the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass.

[0024] The exterior surface of the outboard panel may be configured to adopt, when the first inflatable portion is inflated, a concave profile with respect to the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass when viewed in a plane perpendicular to the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass. Thus the outboard panel curves away from the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass.

[0025] In some embodiments, the concave profile of the exterior surface of the outboard panel is achieved by ensuring that the first vertical length of the outboard panel is less than the second vertical length of the inboard panel.

[0026] In some embodiments, the concave profile of the exterior surface of the outboard panel is achieved by including one or more horizontal pleats, or folds, into the outboard panel thereby to, in effect, render the first vertical length of the outboard panel less than the second vertical length of the inboard panel.

[0027] The pleats can be grouped together or can be discrete and separated. For example, an airbag can comprise one or more pleats grouped together when the airbag is inflated in front of one pane of window glass and another one or more pleats grouped together in front of a neighbouring pane of window glass.

[0028] In some embodiments, the concave profile of the exterior surface of the outboard panel is achieved by the airbag additionally comprising at least one tether, the at least one tether comprising a first and a second end, wherein
  1. (a) the first end is attached to a top of the airbag and the second end is attached to a bottom of the airbag, or
  2. (b) the first end is attached to a top of the airbag and the second end is attached to a parapet of the door when the airbag is deployed from the door, or
  3. (c) the first end attached to the roof and the second end attached to a bottom of the airbag when the airbag is deployed from the roof,
wherein the length of the tether is less than the length from the top to the bottom of the airbag when untethered.

[0029] The tether in all three aforementioned scenarios describes a chord between the two attachment points. It has been observed that the tether acts as a structural member for the airbag which when inflated has a greater level of resistance to impact.

[0030] The term "fluid communication", in this specification, means that gas may pass between, in the particular context in which the term is used, between the first inflatable portion and the one or more additional inflatable portions.

[0031] In another embodiment of the invention, the first inflatable portion additionally comprises one or more additional inflatable portions in fluid communication with the first inflatable portion, the one or more additional inflatable portions configured, when inflated, to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass.

[0032] The term "juxtaposed" means, in this specification, on, around or adjacent.

[0033] The term "distal" means, in this specification, that the additional inflatable portions are positioned when the airbag is inflated away from the roof or the passenger door of the motor vehicle from which the airbag is deployed and are able to contact the parapet of the door when the airbag is deployed from the roof, or the top of the door frame when the airbag is deployed from the door, thereby to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass.

[0034] The one or more additional inflatable portions may be juxtaposed to the exterior surface of the outboard panel, and distal from the roof when the airbag is deployed from a roof of the motor vehicle. Alternatively, the inflatable portions may be distal from the door when the airbag is deployed from a passenger door of the motor vehicle thereby to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass.

[0035] The one or more additional inflatable portions can be in the form, when inflated:
  1. (a) of one or more horizontal bars; or
  2. (b) a plurality of fingers arranged along a substantially horizontal line.


[0036] The term "finger", in this specification, includes cone-shaped or bollard-shaped.

[0037] The one or more additional inflatable portions can be in the form, when inflated, of two, or three, or four, or five, or six fingers.

[0038] The manufacture of airbags is known to the skilled person. Airbags are manufactured from a flexible but airtight fabric such as nylon or polyester, and operate with a sensor which triggers a gas inflator to inflate the airbag under collision conditions. All airbags have vents which allow the gas to escape after deployment.

Examples



[0039] Figures 1a to 1c illustrate a first example of the invention wherein the side curtain airbag comprises a first inflatable portion 101 and a tether 102 thereby the exterior surface of the outboard panel of the first inflatable portion 105 adopts a concave profile with respect to the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass 106 when viewed in a plane perpendicular to the opposing and inboard surface of the window glass.

[0040] Figure 1a illustrates a side curtain airbag when inflated. The inflated first inflatable portion in Figure 1a covers the side window glass.

[0041] Figure 1b is a side profile of the airbag in Figure 1a illustrating the airbag when inflated with a tether 102 comprising a first 103 and a second 104 end, wherein the first end is attached to a top of the airbag and the second end is attached to a bottom of the airbag, and wherein the length of the tether is less than the length from the top to the bottom of the airbag when untethered.

[0042] Figure 1c illustrates operation of the airbag in a side collision impact reducing lateral head movement towards the side window glass and ejection from the motor vehicle.

[0043] Figures 2a and 2b illustrate another example of the invention wherein the side curtain airbag comprises a first inflatable portion 201 and horizontal pleats 202 in the outboard panel 203 thereby to effectively reduce the length of the outboard panel from top to bottom measured along its surface when the airbag is inflated to less than that for the inboard panel 204 and produce a concave profile of outboard panel with respect to the opposing surface of the window glass 205 when viewed in a plane perpendicular to the opposing surface of the window glass.

[0044] Figure 2a illustrates a side curtain airbag when inflated comprising a first inflatable portion 201 and two groups of horizontal pleats 202 in the outboard panel of the airbag 203, each group comprising more than one pleat.

[0045] Figure 2b is a side profile of the airbag in Figure 2a illustrating the airbag when inflated with a horizontal pleat 202.

[0046] In a third example of the invention as illustrated in Figures 3a to 3c, the side curtain airbag deploys from the roof of the motor vehicle and comprises a first inflatable portion 301 and an additional inflatable portion in the form of a single horizontal bar 302 at a distal end from the roof and in fluid communication with the first inflatable portion and configured, when inflated, to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass.

[0047] In particular, Figure 3a illustrates a side curtain airbag when inflated comprising a first inflatable portion 301 and an additional inflatable portion in the form of a single horizontal bar 302 in fluid communication with the first inflatable portion.

[0048] Figure 3b is another view of the side curtain airbag of Figure 3a illustrating the fluid communication between the first inflatable portion and the additional inflatable portion takes the form of several channels 303. The additional inflatable portion is rotated around a horizontal axis defined by the channels to lie against the exterior surface of the outboard panel of the first inflatable portion 304 thereby, when the airbag is inflated, to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass 305.

[0049] Figure 3c is a side profile of the airbag in Figure 3a illustrating the airbag when inflated with the additional inflatable portion rotated around a horizontal axis defined by the channels 303 to lie against the exterior surface of the outboard panel of the first inflatable portion 304. The additional inflatable portion is shown secured in place by stitching to the outboard panel 306. Alternative means for securing the additional inflatable portion against the exterior surface of the outboard panel of the first inflatable portion includes adhesive. Figure 3c illustrates that the additional inflatable portion rest against the parapet of the door thereby to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass 305.

[0050] Figures 4a and 4b illustrate a fourth example of the invention wherein the side curtain airbag, which is deployed from the roof of the motor vehicle, comprises a first inflatable portion 401 and one or more additional inflatable portions in the form, when inflated, of a plurality of fingers 402 in fluid communication with the first inflatable portion.

[0051] Figure 4a illustrates a side curtain airbag in the inflated state covering the side window glass, the airbag comprising a first inflatable portion 401 and one or more additional inflatable portions in the form, when inflated, of a plurality of fingers 402 arranged along a substantially horizontal line towards the bottom of the airbag. The one or more additional inflatable portions protrude from the exterior surface 403 of the outboard panel of the first inflatable portion thereby to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the window glass 404.

[0052] Figure 4b is a side profile of the airbag in Figure 4a. It can be seen that the first inflatable portion is in spaced arrangement with the window glass virtue the one or more additional inflatable portions protruding from the exterior surface of the outboard panel of the first inflatable portion and impinging on the parapet of the door pushing the first inflatable portion into the motor vehicle cabin.

[0053] It can therefore be seen that in all the aforementioned Examples, the first inflatable portion, when inflated, is in spaced alignment with the window glass.

[0054] It will further be appreciated by those skilled in the art that although the invention has been described by way of example with reference to several embodiments it is not limited to the disclosed embodiments and that alternative embodiments could be constructed without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.


Claims

1. A side curtain airbag for a motor vehicle which is deployable from a motor vehicle ceiling or a motor vehicle side window sill, the airbag comprising a first inflatable portion (101) configured when inflated to cover and be in spaced alignment with a side window:

(a) wherein, when the airbag is deployed, an outboard panel of the first inflatable portion adopts a profile curving into the motor vehicle passenger compartment, wherein the outboard panel comprises one or more horizontal pleats; or

(b) wherein the first inflatable portion additionally comprises one or more additional inflatable portions in fluid communication with the first inflatable portion, the one or more additional inflatable portions configured, when inflated, to position the first inflatable portion in spaced alignment with the side window, wherein the one or more additional inflatable portions are juxtaposed the exterior surface of an outboard panel, and distal from the ceiling when the air bag is deployed from the ceiling and rests upon the window sill, or distal from the window sill when the air bag is deployed from the window sill and rests on the ceiling.


 
2. A side curtain airbag according to claim 1, wherein the first inflatable portion comprises an outboard panel (105) having a first perimeter edge and a first vertical length and an inboard panel having a second perimeter edge and a second vertical length, the outboard and inboard panels joined together around their first and second perimeter edges thereby to form an enclosed volume, wherein when the first inflatable portion is inflated an exterior surface of the outboard panel faces towards the window, and wherein at least 50 % of the area of the exterior surface of the outboard panel is in spaced alignment with the window.
 
3. A side curtain airbag according to claim 1 or claim 2, wherein a horizontal mid-line of the exterior surface of the outboard panel when the inflatable panel is inflated is at least 5 cm from any point of the window.
 
4. A side curtain airbag according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the one or more additional inflatable portions are in the form, when inflated:

(i) of one or more horizontal bars; or

(ii) a plurality of fingers arranged along a substantially horizontal line.


 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description