(19)
(11)EP 3 696 029 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
19.08.2020 Bulletin 2020/34

(21)Application number: 20156372.3

(22)Date of filing:  10.02.2020
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B60R 21/20(2011.01)
B60R 21/231(2011.01)
(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: 12.02.2019 CN 201910111005

(71)Applicant: Ford Global Technologies, LLC
Dearborn, MI 48126-2738 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • WANG, Bob
    Nanjing 211100 (CN)
  • MA, Qingsong
    Nanjing 211100 (CN)
  • ZHU, Leon
    Nanjing 211100 (CN)
  • YIN, Laurence
    Nanjing 211100 (CN)
  • TONG, Adrian
    Nanjing 211100 (CN)

(74)Representative: Haseltine Lake Kempner LLP 
Lincoln House, 5th Floor 300 High Holborn
London WC1V 7JH
London WC1V 7JH (GB)

  


(54)ARMREST BOX ASSEMBLY, ARMREST BOX SAFETY AIRBAG SYSTEM AND OPERATING METHOD THEREOF


(57) The present invention provides an armrest box assembly (200) in one or more embodiments. The armrest box assembly comprises: an armrest box body, comprising a receiving space having an opening; a first cover (210) disposed above the armrest box body and moveable relative to the armrest box body, the first cover being moveable between a first deflected position and a second deflected position; and a safety airbag (218) disposed in the first cover. The upper surface of the first cover is deflected in order to provide support as the safety airbag is opening.




Description

Technical field



[0001] The present invention relates to an armrest box assembly, an armrest box safety airbag system and an operating method thereof.

Background



[0002] When a vehicle suffers a lateral collision, a passenger or the driver will move transversely inside the vehicle. For example, when the passenger side of the vehicle suffers a collision, the upper half of the driver's body will move in a direction opposite to that of the collision, i.e. towards the passenger side of the vehicle, due to the effect of inertia. Thus, the driver might come into contact with the passenger.

[0003] US 8210566 B2 has disclosed an airbag apparatus that is arranged between vehicle seats and located at a rear region of a middle armrest box. When a lateral collision occurs, the airbag apparatus opens an airbag to restrain the movement of the driver or passenger in a transverse direction.

Summary of the invention



[0004] According to one aspect of the present invention, an armrest box assembly is provided. The armrest box assembly comprises: an armrest box body, comprising a receiving space having an opening; a first cover disposed above the armrest box body and moveable relative to the armrest box body, the first cover being moveable between a first deflected position and a second deflected position; and a safety airbag disposed in the first cover. In the first deflected position, an upper surface of the first cover is deflected by a first angle relative to a bottom face of the armrest box body at a first side of the armrest box body, in order to provide support in a first direction as the safety airbag is opening; and in the second deflected position, the upper surface of the first cover is deflected by a second angle relative to the bottom face of the armrest box body at a second side of the armrest box body, in order to provide support in a second direction as the safety airbag is opening.

[0005] In one embodiment, the armrest box assembly further comprises a second cover disposed below the first cover, a connecting rod mechanism disposed between the first cover and the second cover, and an actuator connected to the connecting rod mechanism, the second cover being moveably connected to the armrest box body in order to open and close the opening.

[0006] In another embodiment, the second cover comprises a recess for receiving the connecting rod mechanism and the actuator.

[0007] In another embodiment, the connecting rod mechanism comprises a first connecting rod mechanism close to the first side of the armrest box body and a second connecting rod mechanism close to the second side of the armrest box body, and the actuator comprises a first actuator connected to the first connecting rod mechanism and a second actuator connected to the second connecting rod mechanism.

[0008] In another embodiment, the first connecting rod mechanism comprises a first connecting rod and a second connecting rod which are connected to the first cover, and a third connecting rod and a fourth connecting rod which are connected to the second cover, and the first actuator comprises a first rod part and a second rod part which are extensible and retractable, wherein the first rod part is connected to the first connecting rod and the third connecting rod, and the second rod part is connected to the second connecting rod and the fourth connecting rod, and wherein the second connecting rod mechanism comprises a fifth connecting rod and a sixth connecting rod which are connected to the first cover, and a seventh connecting rod and an eighth connecting rod which are connected to the second cover, and the second actuator comprises a third rod part and a fourth rod part which are extensible and retractable, wherein the third rod part is connected to the fifth connecting rod and the seventh connecting rod, and the fourth rod part is connected to the sixth connecting rod and the eighth connecting rod.

[0009] In another embodiment, the armrest box assembly further comprises a second cover disposed below the first cover, and an actuating airbag apparatus disposed between the first cover and the second cover, the second cover being moveably connected to the armrest box body in order to open and close the opening; the actuating airbag apparatus comprises a first actuating airbag close to the first side of the armrest box body, and a second actuating airbag close to the second side of the armrest box body; the actuating airbag apparatus adjusts an inflation amount of the second actuating airbag to be greater than an inflation amount of the first actuating airbag such that the first cover moves to the first deflected position, and adjusts an inflation amount of the first actuating airbag to be greater than an inflation amount of the second actuating airbag such that the first cover moves to the second deflected position.

[0010] In another embodiment, in the first deflected position, a first side of the first cover is lower than a second side of the first cover, the first side being substantially parallel to a length direction of the armrest box body, wherein in the second deflected position, the first side of the first cover is higher than the second side of the first cover, the second side being substantially parallel to the length direction of the armrest box body.

[0011] In another embodiment, a tear line or flip-plate is disposed on the upper surface of the first cover, to facilitate the opening of the airbag.

[0012] According to another aspect of the present invention, an armrest box safety airbag system for a vehicle is provided. The armrest box safety airbag system comprises: an armrest box assembly disposed between a first seat and a second seat, and comprising: an armrest box body, comprising a receiving space having an opening; a first cover disposed on the armrest box body, the first cover being moveable to a first deflected position and a second deflected position, wherein in the first deflected position, an upper surface of the first cover faces towards the first seat, and in the second deflected position, the upper surface of the first cover faces towards the second seat; and an actuator for actuating the first cover; a safety airbag assembly disposed in the first cover, the safety airbag assembly comprising a safety airbag and a gas generator connected to the safety airbag; a first pre-collision sensor close to the first seat; a second pre-collision sensor close to the second seat; and a controller, configured to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the first deflected position in response to a signal of the second pre-collision sensor, and to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the second deflected position in response to a signal of the first pre-collision sensor.

[0013] In one embodiment, the armrest box safety airbag system further comprises a second cover disposed below the first cover, a first connecting rod mechanism and a second connecting rod mechanism disposed between the first cover and the second cover, and an actuator connected to the first and second connecting rod mechanisms; the first connecting rod mechanism is close to a first side of the armrest box body, the second connecting rod mechanism is close to a second side of the armrest box body, and the actuator comprises a first actuator connected to the first connecting rod mechanism and a second actuator connected to the second connecting rod mechanism.

[0014] In another embodiment, the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to return the first cover to a normal position after a predetermined time.

[0015] In another embodiment, the armrest box safety airbag system further comprises a collision sensor, wherein the controller is further configured to instruct the gas generator to inflate the airbag in response to a signal of the collision sensor.

[0016] In another embodiment, the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to lift the first cover to a predetermined position in response to a passenger body height signal received by a camera in the vehicle and in response to a signal of the collision sensor.

[0017] In another embodiment, the first seat is a driver seat, the second seat is a passenger seat, and the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the second deflected position in response to a signal of a second seat occupancy sensor and the signal of the first pre-collision sensor.

[0018] In another embodiment, the armrest box safety airbag system further comprises a vibrating apparatus disposed on the first cover, wherein the vibrating apparatus vibrates in response to signals of the first and second pre-collision sensors to remind a driver or passenger to remove his or her hand from the first cover.

[0019] According to another aspect of the present invention, an operating method for an armrest box safety airbag system is provided, the safety airbag being located in a cover of an armrest box. The method comprises: instructing an actuator to move the cover of the armrest box to a first deflected position such that an upper surface of the cover faces towards a driver seat in response to a signal that a passenger seat side will suffer a collision; and instructing the actuator to move the cover of the armrest box to a second deflected position such that the upper surface of the cover faces towards the passenger seat in response to a signal that a driver seat side will suffer a collision.

[0020] In one embodiment, the method further comprises instructing a vibrating apparatus located in the cover to vibrate in response to a signal that the passenger seat side or the driver seat side will suffer a collision, in order to remind the passenger and driver to remove their hands from the armrest box.

[0021] In another embodiment, the method further comprises instructing the safety airbag system to open the safety airbag in response to a signal that the vehicle has suffered a collision.

[0022] In another embodiment, the method further comprises instructing the actuator to move the cover of the armrest box from the first deflected position or the second deflected position to a normal position in response to a signal that the vehicle has not suffered a collision.

[0023] In another embodiment, the cover of the armrest box comprises a first connecting rod mechanism and a second connecting rod mechanism connected to the actuator; the first connecting rod mechanism is close to a first side of the armrest box body, the second connecting rod mechanism is close to a second side of the armrest box body, and the actuator comprises a first actuator connected to the first connecting rod mechanism and a second actuator connected to the second connecting rod mechanism.

[0024] One or more features and/or advantages of the present invention will be obvious on the basis of one or more embodiments described in detail below in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings



[0025] 

Fig. 1 is a sectional schematic drawing of a vehicle, showing an armrest box assembly according to one or more exemplary embodiments of the present invention installed between front seats of the vehicle.

Fig. 2 is a schematic drawing of the vehicle shown in fig. 1 when experiencing a right-side collision, showing the first cover of the armrest box assembly in a first deflected position and a safety airbag in an opened position.

Fig. 3 is a schematic drawing of the vehicle shown in fig. 1 when experiencing a left-side collision, showing the first cover of the armrest box assembly in a second deflected position and a safety airbag in an opened position.

Fig. 4A is a three-dimensional schematic drawing of the armrest box assembly shown in fig. 1, showing the first cover in a deflected position.

Fig. 4B is a three-dimensional schematic drawing of the armrest box assembly shown in fig. 4A, viewed from another angle.

Fig. 5A is a three-dimensional schematic drawing of an armrest box assembly according to another embodiment of the present invention, showing a first cover in a deflected position.

Fig. 5B is a three-dimensional schematic drawing of the armrest box assembly shown in fig. 5A, viewed from another angle.

Fig. 6 is a schematic drawing of a vehicle according to one or more embodiments of the present invention.

Fig. 7 is a system block diagram of an armrest box safety airbag system according to one or more embodiments of the present invention.

Fig. 8 is a control flow chart for an armrest box safety airbag system according to one or more embodiments of the present invention.


Detailed Description of the Invention



[0026] Particular embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein as required; however, it should be understood that the embodiments disclosed are merely examples of the present invention and may be implemented in multiple alternative forms. There is no need for the drawings to be drawn to scale; some features may be enlarged or reduced to show details of specific components. Thus, the particular structures and functional details disclosed here should not be interpreted as limitations, but are merely a representative basis for teaching those skilled in the art to implement the present invention in multiple forms.

[0027] When a vehicle suffers a lateral collision, the upper half of the body of the driver or a passenger will move in a direction opposite to that of the collision, due to the effect of inertia. Thus, the driver might come into contact with the passenger. An existing solution is to arrange a safety airbag between the seats to retard such movement; for example, the safety airbag is arranged on a central armrest box or on a seat. However, after opening, the safety airbag lacks effective support, resulting in limited effectiveness. In the armrest box assembly of the present invention, a safety airbag is disposed in a cover of an armrest box, and the armrest box cover is moveable between a first deflected position and a second deflected position. In the first deflected position, an upper surface of the cover faces in a first direction in order to provide support in the first direction as the safety airbag is opening; in the second deflected position, the upper surface of the cover faces in a second direction different from the first direction in order to provide support in the second direction as the safety airbag is opening. Thus, the armrest box assembly of the present invention can adjust the position of the cover according to the position of a lateral collision in order to provide improved protection during the lateral collision, and a safety airbag assembly can retard movement of the driver and passenger during the lateral collision.

[0028] Fig. 1 shows a partial schematic drawing of a vehicle 100 implemented according to one or more examples of the present invention, showing an armrest box assembly 200 installed in the vehicle 100. In one or more embodiments, the vehicle 100 comprises a first seat 102, and a second seat 104 arranged side by side with the first seat 102. In one or more embodiments, the first seat 102 may for example be a driver seat, and the second seat 104 may for example be a passenger seat. The armrest box assembly 200 is located between the first seat 102 and the second seat 104 in order to provide storage space and support an elbow of a front-seat passenger or the driver.

[0029] In one or more embodiments, the armrest box assembly 200 comprises an armrest box body 202 and a cover 204 connected to the armrest box body 202. The armrest box body 202 comprises a receiving space 206 having an opening 208 in order to store articles, e.g. a bag or a driving licence, etc. The cover 204 can move between a first position and a second position and can thereby open or close the opening 208. For example, the cover 204 can pivot between the first position and the second position via a hinge mechanism and can thereby open or close the opening 208. In one or more embodiments, the cover 204 can slide between the first position and the second position via a slide rail mechanism and can thereby open or close the opening 208.

[0030] Further referring to figs. 2 - 4B, in one or more embodiments, the cover 204 further comprises a first cover 210 disposed above the armrest box body 202 and moveable relative to the armrest box body 202, a second cover 212 disposed below the first cover 210, a connecting rod mechanism 214 disposed between the first cover 210 and the second cover 212, and an actuator 216 connected to the connecting rod mechanism 214. The second cover 212 is moveably connected to the armrest box body 202 in order to open and close the opening 208.

[0031] Referring to figs. 2 and 3, fig. 2 is a schematic drawing of the vehicle 100 shown in fig. 1 when experiencing a right-side (passenger-side) collision, showing the first cover 210 of the armrest box assembly 200 in a first deflected position P1 and a safety airbag 218 in an opened position. Fig. 3 is a schematic drawing of the vehicle 100 shown in fig. 1 when experiencing a left-side (driver-side) collision, showing the first cover 210 of the armrest box assembly 200 in a second deflected position P2 and the safety airbag 218 in an opened position. The first cover 210 is connected to the second cover 212 via the connecting rod mechanism 214 and can move between the first deflected position P1 and the second deflected position P2. In one or more embodiments, the armrest box assembly 200 further comprises a safety airbag assembly disposed in the first cover 210 of the cover 204. The safety airbag assembly comprises the safety airbag 218 and a gas generator (not shown) connected to the safety airbag 218. In the first deflected position P1, an upper surface 220 of the first cover 210 is deflected by a first angle γ relative to a bottom face 203 of the armrest box body at a first side 224 of the armrest box body 202, in order to provide support for the safety airbag 218 in a first direction D1 as the safety airbag 218 is opening. In the second deflected position P2, the upper surface 220 of the first cover 210 is deflected by a second angle δ relative to the bottom face 203 of the armrest box body 202 at a second side 228 of the armrest box body, in order to provide support for the safety airbag 218 in a second direction D2 as the safety airbag 218 is opening. The first direction D1 is different from the second direction D2. In one or more embodiments, the first direction D1 may be substantially towards the first seat 102, and the second direction D2 may be substantially towards the second seat 104.

[0032] Referring to figs. 4A and 4B, fig. 4A is a three-dimensional schematic drawing of the armrest box assembly 200 shown in fig. 1, showing the first cover 210 in a deflected position, e.g. the first deflected position P1. Fig. 4B is a three-dimensional schematic drawing of the armrest box assembly 200 shown in fig. 4A, viewed from another angle. In one or more embodiments, the second cover 212 comprises a recess 222 for receiving the connecting rod mechanism 214 and the actuator 216, such that the connecting rod mechanism 214 and the actuator 216 are not visible when the first cover 210 is in a normal position P0, in order to improve the overall appearance. The term "normal position" means that the first cover 210 is in an undeflected position when there is no risk of a lateral collision. Fig. 1 shows the first cover 210 in the normal position P0. Furthermore, in one or more embodiments, the connecting rod mechanism 214 comprises a first connecting rod mechanism 226 close to the first side 224 of the armrest box body 202, and a second connecting rod mechanism 230 close to the second side 228 of the armrest box body 202. In one or more embodiments, the actuator 216 may be an electric linear actuator. The actuator 216 comprises a first actuator 232 connected to the first connecting rod mechanism 226 and a second actuator 234 connected to the second connecting rod mechanism 230.

[0033] In one or more embodiments, the first connecting rod mechanism 226 comprises a first connecting rod 236 and a second connecting rod 238 which are connected to the first cover 210, and a third connecting rod 240 and a fourth connecting rod 242 which are connected to the second cover 212. The first actuator 232 comprises a first body part 233, and a first rod part 244 and a second rod part 246 which are extensible and retractable relative to the first body part 233, wherein the first rod part 244 is connected to the first connecting rod 236 and the third connecting rod 240, and the second rod part 246 is connected to the second connecting rod 238 and the fourth connecting rod 242. The second connecting rod mechanism 230 comprises a fifth connecting rod 248 and a sixth connecting rod 250 which are connected to the first cover 210, and a seventh connecting rod 252 and an eighth connecting rod 254 which are connected to the second cover 212. The second actuator 234 comprises a second body part 235, and a third rod part 256 and a fourth rod part 258 which are extensible and retractable relative to the second body part 235, wherein the third rod part 256 is connected to the fifth connecting rod 248 and the seventh connecting rod 252, and the fourth rod part 258 is connected to the sixth connecting rod 250 and the eighth connecting rod 254.

[0034] When the first cover 210 is in the normal position P0, a first angle α between the first connecting rod 236 and the third connecting rod 240 of the first connecting rod mechanism 226 and a first angle α between the second connecting rod 238 and the fourth connecting rod 242, and a second angle β between the fifth connecting rod 248 and the seventh connecting rod 252 of the second connecting rod mechanism 230 and a second angle β between the sixth connecting rod 250 and the eighth connecting rod 254, are substantially the same and as small as possible so that the first connecting rod mechanism 226 and the second connecting rod mechanism 238 can be received without the need for a deeper recess 222. In one or more embodiments, in the normal position, the first angle α and the second angle β may be smaller than 30 degrees. As shown in the figures, the first rod part 244 and second rod part 246 of the first actuator 232 and the third rod part 256 and fourth rod part 258 of the second actuator 234 can move between a retracted position and extended positions in order to adjust the sizes of the first angle α and the second angle β. In one or more embodiments, an adjustment range of the first angle α and the second angle β may be 15 to 180 degrees. It should be understood that the adjustment range of the first angle α and the second angle β may be set as required.

[0035] When the first rod part 244 and second rod part 246 of the first actuator 232 and the third rod part 256 and fourth rod part 258 of the second actuator 234 are in the retracted position, the cover 210 is in the normal position P0. When the first rod part 244 and second rod part 246 of the first actuator 232 and the third rod part 256 and fourth rod part 258 of the second actuator 234 are in extended positions, and the first angle α and the second angle β are different, the first cover 210 is in a deflected position, i.e. the first deflected position P1 or the second deflected position P2. Specifically, when the first angle α is smaller than the second angle β, the first cover 210 is in the first deflected position P1. When the first angle α is larger than the second angle β, the first cover 210 is in the second deflected position P2. In the first deflected position P1, a first side 260 of the first cover 210 is lower than a second side 262 of the first cover 210, such that the first cover 210 has a first deflection angle γ relative to a horizontal plane or the second cover 212 (as shown in fig. 2). In the second deflected position P2, the first side 260 of the first cover 210 is higher than the second side 262 of the first cover 210, such that the first cover 210 has a second deflection angle δ relative to a horizontal plane or the second cover 212 (as shown in fig. 3). In one or more embodiments, a tear line or flip-plate is disposed on the upper surface 220 of the first cover 210, to facilitate the opening of the safety airbag 218.

[0036] Further referring to figs. 5A and 5B, fig. 5A is a three-dimensional schematic drawing of an armrest box assembly 300 according to another embodiment of the present invention, showing a first cover 310 in a deflected position. Fig. 5B is a three-dimensional schematic drawing of the armrest box assembly 300 shown in fig. 5A, viewed from another angle. For simplicity, only parts different from the armrest box assembly 200 are described. In one or more embodiments, the armrest box assembly 300 may comprise the first cover 310 and a second cover 312. The armrest box assembly 300 may further comprise an actuating airbag apparatus 314 for deflecting the first cover 310. The actuating airbag apparatus 314 may be disposed between the first cover 310 and the second cover 312. In one or more embodiments, the second cover 312 comprises a recess 322 for receiving the actuating airbag apparatus 314, such that the actuating airbag apparatus 314 is not visible when the first cover 310 is in the normal position P0, in order to improve the overall appearance. In one or more embodiments, the actuating airbag apparatus 314 comprises a first actuating airbag 326 close to a first side 324 of an armrest box body 302, a second actuating airbag 330 close to a second side 328 of the armrest box body 302, and a gas generator (not shown) for inflating the first actuating airbag 326 and the second actuating airbag 330. The first actuating airbag 326 and the second actuating airbag 330 are connected to the first cover at a side close to the first cover 310, and are connected to the second cover 312 at another side close to the second cover 312. In other embodiments, at the first side 324 of the armrest box body 302, the first cover 310 may be pivotably connected to the second cover 312. At the second side 328 of the armrest box body 302, the first cover 310 may be pivotably connected to the second cover 312. The first cover 310 may be pivotably connected to the second cover 312 in any suitable manner, e.g. by a connecting rod mechanism (not shown). It should be understood that in order to reduce costs, the actuating airbag apparatus 314 may also share a gas generator with a safety airbag (not shown) of the armrest box assembly 300.

[0037] When the actuating airbag apparatus 314 is in an uninflated state, the first cover 310 is in the normal position P0. When it is necessary to deflect the first cover 310, inflation amounts of the first actuating airbag 326 and the second actuating airbag 330 may be adjusted by means of the gas generator. For example, in the first deflected position P1, the inflation amount of the second actuating airbag 330 is greater than the inflation amount of the first actuating airbag 326. In the second deflected position P2, the inflation amount of the first actuating airbag 326 is greater than the inflation amount of the second actuating airbag 330. At the same time, the adjustment of the inflation amounts of the first actuating airbag 326 and the second actuating airbag 330 may also change the height of the first cover 310, e.g. H1 as shown in fig. 2 or H2 as shown in fig. 3.

[0038] Further referring to fig. 6, fig. 6 is a system block diagram of an armrest box safety airbag system 500 according to one or more embodiments of the present invention. In one or more embodiments, the armrest box safety airbag system 500 comprises an armrest box cover 502, a safety airbag assembly 503 disposed in the armrest box cover 502, an actuating apparatus 504 connected to the armrest box cover 502 and used for actuating the armrest box cover 502, multiple sensors and a controller 506. The safety airbag assembly 503 may comprise a gas generator 510, a safety airbag 512, and other components for the safety airbag assembly that are used in the prior art.

[0039] The controller 506 is configured to control the actuating apparatus 504 and the safety airbag assembly 503 in response to signals of the multiple sensors. The controller 506 is a conventional microcomputer, for example comprising a microprocessor unit, an input/output port, a read-only memory, a random access memory, a keep-alive memory and a conventional data bus. In one or more embodiments, the controller 506 may be a dedicated controller for controlling movement of the armrest box cover 502. It should be understood that the controller 506 may also be a part of a vehicle system controller (VSC).

[0040] In one or more embodiments, the actuating apparatus 504 may be any suitable apparatus for deflecting the armrest box cover 502. The actuating apparatus 504 and the armrest box cover 502 may have a structure identical or similar to that of the armrest box assembly 200. For example, the actuating apparatus 504 may comprise the connecting rod mechanism 214 and the actuator 216 connected to the connecting rod mechanism 214 in figs. 4A and 4B for example. Of course, the actuating apparatus 504 may also be the actuating airbag apparatus 314 as shown in figs. 5A and 5B.

[0041] In one or more embodiments, the armrest box safety airbag system 500 may comprise a pre-collision sensor 514 and a collision sensor 516. In one or more embodiments, the pre-collision sensor 514 may be a radar sensor. In response to lateral collision risk information from the pre-collision sensor 514, the controller 506 controls deflection of the actuating apparatus 504 such that the armrest box cover 502 moves to a suitable position to provide suitable conditions for the safety airbag 512 to open, e.g. such that the armrest box cover 502 is deflected laterally by a certain angle to provide support for the safety airbag that will open.

[0042] In one or more embodiments, the armrest box safety airbag system 500 may comprise a reminder apparatus 508. The reminder apparatus 508 may be disposed on the armrest box cover 502 and be in communicative connection with the controller 506. The reminder apparatus 508 may be any suitable vibrating apparatus. After receiving a signal that a lateral collision might occur from the pre-collision sensor 514, the controller 506 may instruct the reminder apparatus 508 to activate the emission of vibration to remind the driver or passenger to remove his or her hand from the armrest box cover 502.

[0043] In one or more embodiments, the armrest box safety airbag system 500 may comprise a seat occupancy sensor 518. The seat occupancy sensor 518 may be any suitable sensor, e.g. a weight sensor or a pressure sensor. After receiving a signal emitted by the pre-collision sensor 514 that a collision might occur at the driver side, and a signal that the passenger seat is occupied, the controller 506 instructs the actuating apparatus 504 to deflect the armrest box cover 502 such that the upper surface of the armrest box cover 502 faces towards the passenger.

[0044] In one or more embodiments, the armrest box safety airbag system 500 may comprise a camera 520. The camera 520 may capture images of the driver and passenger to estimate the body heights of the driver and passenger, and determine an angle of rise or deflection of the armrest box cover 502 according to the body heights. The distance between the deflected armrest box cover 502 and the driver or passenger is related to a supporting force provided by the armrest box cover 502. For example, when the distance between the deflected armrest box cover 502 and the body of the driver or passenger (e.g. the passenger's shoulder) is smaller, the supporting force provided by the armrest box cover 502 is more effective. Thus, when the passenger's body height is greater, the armrest box cover 502 may rise a little higher such that a desired distance is maintained between the armrest box cover 502 and the passenger's shoulder.

[0045] It should be understood that the controller 506, the pre-collision sensor 514, the collision sensor 516, the seat occupancy sensor 518 and the camera 520 may also be part of a vehicle system; thus, in order to control the armrest box cover 502 without the need to additionally install these apparatuses, the cost and system complexity can be effectively reduced.

[0046] Referring to fig. 7, fig. 7 is a schematic drawing of a vehicle 600 according to one or more embodiments of the present invention. The vehicle 600 may comprise a first seat 602, a first pre-collision sensor 604 and a first collision sensor 606 which are located at a first seat side, a second seat 608, and a second pre-collision sensor 610 and a second collision sensor 612 which are located at a second seat side. The first pre-collision sensor 604 and the second pre-collision sensor 610 may be located at a front region of the vehicle 600, e.g. close to the Apillar. In one or more embodiments, the pre-collision sensors 604 and 610 may be radar sensors. The first pre-collision sensor 604 and the second pre-collision sensor 610 may be configured to detect an impact at an angle to a vehicle side and an impact at substantially 90 degrees to a vehicle side, and estimate a direction and position of a lateral collision. A controller of an armrest box safety airbag system may be in communicative connection with the first pre-collision sensor 604 and the second pre-collision sensor 610, and with the first collision sensor 606 and the second collision sensor 612.

[0047] In one or more embodiments, the vehicle 600 may comprise a first passenger occupancy sensor 614 located in the first seat 602, and a second passenger occupancy sensor 616 located in the second seat 608. In one or more embodiments, the first passenger occupancy sensor 614 and the second passenger occupancy sensor 616 may be weight sensors. The controller of the armrest box safety airbag system may be in communicative connection with the first passenger occupancy sensor 614 and the second passenger occupancy sensor 616.

[0048] In one or more embodiments, the vehicle 600 comprises a camera 618 located in the vehicle. The camera 618 may be disposed in a position close to a rear view mirror on a front window of the vehicle. The controller of the armrest box safety airbag system may be in communicative connection with the camera 618.

[0049] Furthermore, the vehicle 600 further comprises a reminder apparatus 620 located on an armrest box. In one or more embodiments, the reminder apparatus 620 may be a vibrating apparatus or a voice apparatus. In other embodiments, the reminder apparatus 620 may also be a combination of a vibrating apparatus and a voice alarm apparatus. The controller of the armrest box safety airbag system may be in communicative connection with the reminder apparatus 620. The controller is configured to receive signals from multiple sources and control the armrest box cover.

[0050] Fig. 8 is a control flow chart of a method 700 for controlling the armrest box safety airbag system 500 according to one or more embodiments of the present invention. The method 700 may be implemented by the armrest box safety airbag system 500 shown in fig. 5 and completed by a program configured in the controller 506. The method 700 may also be implemented by the armrest box safety airbag system shown in fig. 6. The method begins at 702. Method 700: using the armrest box safety airbag system shown in fig. 6, at 704, the method 700 receives information that a potential lateral collision may occur from the pre-collision sensor 514. For example, the controller 506 may receive information from the pre-collision sensor 514. Next, at 706, the method 700 determines whether there is a risk of a lateral collision. In one or more embodiments, the method 700 may make an estimation on the basis of a distance between the main vehicle 100 and a target vehicle detected by the pre-collision sensor 514 (e.g. radar sensor) located on a vehicle body, and whether a speed of the target vehicle relative to the main vehicle 100 exceeds a predetermined threshold. If the answer is negative, the method 700 returns to 704 to continue receiving potential lateral collision information from the pre-collision sensor 514. In one or more embodiments, if the answer is positive, the method 700 proceeds to 708. At 708, the method 700 comprises sending a signal to the reminder apparatus 508 to remind a user (e.g. the driver or passenger) to remove his or her arm from the armrest box, thereby giving the user a favourable user experience. In one or more embodiments, if the answer is positive, the method 700 may proceed directly to 710.

[0051] Next, at 710, the method 700 further comprises instructing the actuating apparatus 504 to activate an operation to adjust a position of the armrest box cover 502. In a vehicle in which the driver is at the left side (as in the vehicle shown in fig. 7), the driver sits in the first seat or sits at the left side, and the passenger or a second passenger sits in the second seat or sits at the right side. In one or more embodiments, if the method 700 receives information that a collision might occur at the left side from the first pre-collision sensor at the first seat side (i.e. the driver side), and the method 700 receives a signal from the second passenger occupancy sensor that a passenger is present, then the method 700 proceeds to 712. At 712, the method 700 comprises instructing the actuating apparatus 504 to move the armrest box cover such that the upper surface of the armrest box cover is offset towards the right side (e.g. the second deflected position P2) so as to face towards the second seat 104 (as shown in fig. 3).

[0052] In one or more embodiments, the method 700 comprises receiving a body height signal of a passenger P from the camera 520 located in the vehicle, and in response to the body height signal of the passenger P, instructing the actuating apparatus 504 to lift the first cover 210 to a second predetermined height H2 and cause the first cover 210 to have the second deflection angle δ relative to a horizontal plane or the second cover 212. Thus, it should be understood that the sizes of the second predetermined height H2 and the second deflection angle δ may be adjusted according to the body height of the passenger P in order to provide a better protective effect. Of course, in other embodiments, it is also possible to omit the camera 520, and receive a signal of a weight sensor to estimate the body height of the passenger P, so as to adjust the position of the first cover.

[0053] Next, the method proceeds to 714. At 714, the method 700 determines whether a left-side collision has occurred by receiving a signal from the second collision sensor. If the answer is negative, then the method 700 proceeds to 716. At 716, the method 700 comprises instructing the actuating apparatus 504 to return the cover 210 to the normal position. Next, the method 700 returns to 704. If the answer at 714 of the method 700 is positive, then the method 700 proceeds to 724. At 724, the method 700 instructs the gas generator 510 to inflate the safety airbag 512 of the armrest box in order to open the safety airbag 512. For example, referring to fig. 3, the safety airbag 218 opens from the upper surface 220 of the first cover 210. The first cover 210 is deflected towards the second seat 104; thus, once the safety airbag 218 has opened, the first cover 210 can provide better support for the safety airbag 218 in order to resist movement of the passenger P towards the driver D. Next, the method 700 proceeds to 726 and ends.

[0054] If, at 710, the method 700 receives information emitted by the second pre-collision sensor 610 at the side of the second seat 608 that a collision might occur at the right side, then the method 700 proceeds to 718. At 718, the method 700 comprises instructing the actuating apparatus 504 to move the armrest box cover such that the upper surface of the armrest box cover is offset towards the left side (i.e. the first deflected position P1) so as to face towards the first seat 102 (as shown in fig. 2). Further referring to fig. 2, in one or more embodiments, the method 700 comprises receiving a body height signal of the driver D from the camera 618 located in the vehicle, and in response to the body height signal of the driver D, instructing the actuating apparatus 504 to lift the first cover 210 to a first predetermined height H1 and cause the first cover 210 to have the first deflection angle γ relative to a horizontal plane or the second cover 212. Thus, it should be understood that the sizes of the first predetermined height H1 and the first deflection angle γ may be adjusted according to the body height of the driver D in order to provide a better protective effect. Of course, in other embodiments, it is also possible to omit the camera 520, and receive a signal of a weight sensor to estimate the body height of the driver D.

[0055] Next, the method proceeds to 720. At 720, the method 700 determines whether a right-side collision has occurred at the second seat side (passenger side) by receiving a signal from the second collision sensor. If the answer is negative, then the method 700 proceeds to 722. At 722, the method 700 comprises instructing the actuating apparatus 504 to return the cover 210 to the normal position. Next, the method 700 returns to 704. If the answer at 720 of the method 700 is positive, then the method 700 proceeds to 724. At 724, the method 700 comprises instructing the gas generator 510 to inflate the safety airbag 512 in order to open the safety airbag 512. For example, referring to fig. 2, the safety airbag 218 opens from the upper surface 220 of the first cover 210. The first cover 210 is deflected towards the first seat 102; thus, once the safety airbag 218 has opened, the first cover 210 can provide better support for the safety airbag 218 in order to resist movement of the driver D towards the second seat 104. Next, the method 700 proceeds to 726 and ends.

[0056] In the armrest box safety airbag system of the present invention, using a safety airbag assembly, a far-end safety airbag can be opened in the event of lateral collisions occurring at both the left and right sides, in order to retard movement of the driver and passenger during a lateral collision. The armrest box safety airbag system can adjust the cover of the armrest box according to whether the collision about to occur is at the left side or the right side. The offset and/or lifted cover provides stronger support for the opened safety airbag and enables the safety airbag to have a desired path. The pre-collision sensor detects and predicts a possible lateral collision to adjust the cover of the armrest box, such that the safety airbag system responds to a potential collision more proactively.

[0057] The following numbered statements form part of the present disclosure:

Statement 1. An armrest box assembly, comprising:

an armrest box body, comprising a receiving space having an opening;

a first cover disposed above the armrest box body and moveable relative to the armrest box body, the first cover being moveable between a first deflected position and a second deflected position;

a safety airbag disposed in the first cover;

wherein in the first deflected position, an upper surface of the first cover is deflected by a first angle relative to a bottom face of the armrest box body at a first side of the armrest box body, in order to provide support in a first direction as the safety airbag is opening; and in the second deflected position, the upper surface of the first cover is deflected by a second angle relative to the bottom face of the armrest box body at a second side of the armrest box body, in order to provide support in a second direction as the safety airbag is opening.

Statement 2. The armrest box assembly according to Statement 1, further comprising a second cover disposed below the first cover, a connecting rod mechanism disposed between the first cover and the second cover, and an actuator connected to the connecting rod mechanism, the second cover being moveably connected to the armrest box body in order to open and close the opening.

Statement 3. The armrest box assembly according to Statement 2, wherein the second cover comprises a recess for receiving the connecting rod mechanism and the actuator.

Statement 4. The armrest box assembly according to Statement 2 or 3, wherein the connecting rod mechanism comprises a first connecting rod mechanism close to the first side of the armrest box body and a second connecting rod mechanism close to the second side of the armrest box body, and the actuator comprises a first actuator connected to the first connecting rod mechanism and a second actuator connected to the second connecting rod mechanism.

Statement 5. The armrest box assembly according to Statement 4, wherein the first connecting rod mechanism comprises a first connecting rod and a second connecting rod which are connected to the first cover, and a third connecting rod and a fourth connecting rod which are connected to the second cover, and the first actuator comprises a first rod part and a second rod part which are extensible and retractable, wherein the first rod part is connected to the first connecting rod and the third connecting rod, and the second rod part is connected to the second connecting rod and the fourth connecting rod, and wherein the second connecting rod mechanism comprises a fifth connecting rod and a sixth connecting rod which are connected to the first cover, and a seventh connecting rod and an eighth connecting rod which are connected to the second cover, and the second actuator comprises a third rod part and a fourth rod part which are extensible and retractable, wherein the third rod part is connected to the fifth connecting rod and the seventh connecting rod, and the fourth rod part is connected to the sixth connecting rod and the eighth connecting rod.

Statement 6. The armrest box assembly according to any of the preceding Statements, further comprising a second cover disposed below the first cover, and an actuating airbag apparatus disposed between the first cover and the second cover, the second cover being moveably connected to the armrest box body in order to open and close the opening; the actuating airbag apparatus comprises a first actuating airbag close to the first side of the armrest box body, and a second actuating airbag close to the second side of the armrest box body; the actuating airbag apparatus adjusts an inflation amount of the second actuating airbag to be greater than an inflation amount of the first actuating airbag such that the first cover moves to the first deflected position, and adjusts an inflation amount of the first actuating airbag to be greater than an inflation amount of the second actuating airbag such that the first cover moves to the second deflected position.

Statement 7. The armrest box assembly according to any of the preceding Statements, wherein in the first deflected position, a first side of the first cover is lower than a second side of the first cover, the first side being substantially parallel to a length direction of the armrest box body, wherein in the second deflected position, the first side of the first cover is higher than the second side of the first cover, the second side being substantially parallel to the length direction of the armrest box body.

Statement 8. The armrest box assembly according to any of the preceding Statements, wherein a tear line or flip-plate is disposed on the upper surface of the first cover, to facilitate the opening of the airbag.

Statement 9. An armrest box safety airbag system for a vehicle, comprising:

an armrest box assembly disposed between a first seat and a second seat, and comprising:

an armrest box body, comprising a receiving space having an opening;

a first cover disposed on the armrest box body, the first cover being moveable to a first deflected position and a second deflected position, wherein in the first deflected position, an upper surface of the first cover faces towards the first seat, and in the second deflected position, the upper surface of the first cover faces towards the second seat; and

an actuator for actuating the first cover;

a safety airbag assembly disposed in the first cover, the safety airbag assembly comprising a safety airbag and a gas generator connected to the safety airbag;

a first pre-collision sensor close to the first seat;

a second pre-collision sensor close to the second seat;

a controller, configured to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the first deflected position in response to a signal of the second pre-collision sensor, and to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the second deflected position in response to a signal of the first pre-collision sensor.

Statement 10. The armrest box safety airbag system according to Statement 9, further comprising a second cover disposed below the first cover, a first connecting rod mechanism and a second connecting rod mechanism disposed between the first cover and the second cover, and an actuator connected to the first and second connecting rod mechanisms; the first connecting rod mechanism is close to a first side of the armrest box body, the second connecting rod mechanism is close to a second side of the armrest box body, and the actuator comprises a first actuator connected to the first connecting rod mechanism and a second actuator connected to the second connecting rod mechanism.

Statement 11. The armrest box safety airbag system according to Statement 9 or 10, wherein the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to return the first cover to a normal position after a predetermined time.

Statement 12. The armrest box safety airbag system according to any of Statements 9 to 11, further comprising a collision sensor, wherein the controller is further configured to instruct the gas generator to inflate the airbag in response to a signal of the collision sensor.

Statement 13. The armrest box safety airbag system according to any of Statements 9 to 12, wherein the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to lift the first cover to a predetermined position in response to a passenger body height signal received by a camera in the vehicle and in response to a signal of the collision sensor.

Statement 14. The armrest box safety airbag system according to any of Statements 9 to 13, wherein the first seat is a driver seat, the second seat is a passenger seat, and the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the second deflected position in response to a signal of a second seat occupancy sensor and the signal of the first pre-collision sensor.

Statement 15. The armrest box safety airbag system according to any of Statements 9 to 14, further comprising a vibrating apparatus disposed on the first cover, wherein the vibrating apparatus vibrates in response to signals of the first and second pre-collision sensors to remind a driver or passenger to remove his or her hand from the first cover.

Statement 16. Operating method for an armrest box safety airbag system, the safety airbag being located in a cover of an armrest box, and the method comprising:

instructing an actuator to move the cover of the armrest box to a first deflected position such that an upper surface of the cover faces towards a driver seat in response to a signal that a passenger seat side will suffer a collision; and

instructing the actuator to move the cover of the armrest box to a second deflected position such that the upper surface of the cover faces towards the passenger seat in response to a signal that a driver seat side will suffer a collision.

Statement 17. The method according to Statement 16, further comprising instructing a vibrating apparatus located in the cover to vibrate in response to a signal that the passenger seat side or the driver seat side will suffer a collision, in order to remind the passenger and driver to remove their hands from the armrest box.

Statement 18. The method according to Statement 16 or 17, further comprising instructing the safety airbag system to open the safety airbag in response to a signal that the vehicle has suffered a collision.

Statement 19. The method according to any of Statement 16 to 18, further comprising instructing the actuator to move the cover of the armrest box from the first deflected position or the second deflected position to a normal position in response to a signal that the vehicle has not suffered a collision.

Statement 20. The method according to any of Statements 16 to 19, wherein the cover of the armrest box comprises a first connecting rod mechanism and a second connecting rod mechanism connected to the actuator; the first connecting rod mechanism is close to a first side of the armrest box body, the second connecting rod mechanism is close to a second side of the armrest box body, and the actuator comprises a first actuator connected to the first connecting rod mechanism and a second actuator connected to the second connecting rod mechanism.



[0058] The above are merely preferred embodiments of the present invention, which are not intended to limit it; to those skilled in the art, various alterations and changes to the present invention are possible. Any amendments, equivalent substitutions or improvements, etc. which are made within the spirit and principles of the present invention should be included in the scope of protection of the present invention.


Claims

1. An armrest box assembly, comprising:

an armrest box body, comprising a receiving space having an opening;

a first cover disposed above the armrest box body and moveable relative to the armrest box body, the first cover being moveable between a first deflected position and a second deflected position;

a safety airbag disposed in the first cover;

wherein in the first deflected position, an upper surface of the first cover is deflected by a first angle relative to a bottom face of the armrest box body at a first side of the armrest box body, in order to provide support in a first direction as the safety airbag is opening; and in the second deflected position, the upper surface of the first cover is deflected by a second angle relative to the bottom face of the armrest box body at a second side of the armrest box body, in order to provide support in a second direction as the safety airbag is opening.


 
2. The armrest box assembly according to Claim 1, further comprising a second cover disposed below the first cover, a connecting rod mechanism disposed between the first cover and the second cover, and an actuator connected to the connecting rod mechanism, the second cover being moveably connected to the armrest box body in order to open and close the opening.
 
3. The armrest box assembly according to Claim 2, wherein the connecting rod mechanism comprises a first connecting rod mechanism close to the first side of the armrest box body and a second connecting rod mechanism close to the second side of the armrest box body, and the actuator comprises a first actuator connected to the first connecting rod mechanism and a second actuator connected to the second connecting rod mechanism.
 
4. The armrest box assembly according to any of the preceding Claims, further comprising a second cover disposed below the first cover, and an actuating airbag apparatus disposed between the first cover and the second cover, the second cover being moveably connected to the armrest box body in order to open and close the opening; the actuating airbag apparatus comprises a first actuating airbag close to the first side of the armrest box body, and a second actuating airbag close to the second side of the armrest box body; the actuating airbag apparatus adjusts an inflation amount of the second actuating airbag to be greater than an inflation amount of the first actuating airbag such that the first cover moves to the first deflected position, and adjusts an inflation amount of the first actuating airbag to be greater than an inflation amount of the second actuating airbag such that the first cover moves to the second deflected position.
 
5. The armrest box assembly according to any of the preceding Claims, wherein in the first deflected position, a first side of the first cover is lower than a second side of the first cover, the first side being substantially parallel to a length direction of the armrest box body, wherein in the second deflected position, the first side of the first cover is higher than the second side of the first cover, the second side being substantially parallel to the length direction of the armrest box body.
 
6. An armrest box safety airbag system for a vehicle, comprising:

the armrest box assembly according to any of the preceding claims and disposed between a first seat and a second seat, wherein in the first deflected position, an upper surface of the first cover faces towards the first seat, and in the second deflected position, the upper surface of the first cover faces towards the second seat;

an actuator for actuating the first cover;

a safety airbag assembly disposed in the first cover, the safety airbag assembly comprising a safety airbag and a gas generator connected to the safety airbag;

a first pre-collision sensor close to the first seat;

a second pre-collision sensor close to the second seat;

a controller, configured to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the first deflected position in response to a signal of the second pre-collision sensor, and to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the second deflected position in response to a signal of the first pre-collision sensor.


 
7. The armrest box safety airbag system according to Claim 6, wherein the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to return the first cover to a normal position after a predetermined time.
 
8. The armrest box safety airbag system according to Claim 6 or 7, further comprising a collision sensor, wherein the controller is further configured to instruct the gas generator to inflate the airbag in response to a signal of the collision sensor.
 
9. The armrest box safety airbag system according to any of Claims 6 to 8, wherein the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to lift the first cover to a predetermined position in response to a passenger body height signal received by a camera in the vehicle and in response to a signal of the collision sensor.
 
10. The armrest box safety airbag system according to any of Claims 6 to 9, wherein the first seat is a driver seat, the second seat is a passenger seat, and the controller is further configured to instruct the actuator to move the first cover to the second deflected position in response to a signal of a second seat occupancy sensor and the signal of the first pre-collision sensor.
 
11. The armrest box safety airbag system according to any of Claims 6 to 10, further comprising a vibrating apparatus disposed on the first cover, wherein the vibrating apparatus vibrates in response to signals of the first and second pre-collision sensors to remind a driver or passenger to remove his or her hand from the first cover.
 
12. Operating method for an armrest box safety airbag system, the safety airbag being located in a cover of an armrest box, and the method comprising:

instructing an actuator to move the cover of the armrest box to a first deflected position such that an upper surface of the cover faces towards a driver seat in response to a signal that a passenger seat side will suffer a collision; and

instructing the actuator to move the cover of the armrest box to a second deflected position such that the upper surface of the cover faces towards the passenger seat in response to a signal that a driver seat side will suffer a collision.


 
13. The method according to Claim 12, further comprising instructing a vibrating apparatus located in the cover to vibrate in response to a signal that the passenger seat side or the driver seat side will suffer a collision, in order to remind the passenger and driver to remove their hands from the armrest box.
 
14. The method according to Claim 12 or 13, further comprising instructing the safety airbag system to open the safety airbag in response to a signal that the vehicle has suffered a collision.
 
15. The method according to any of Claims 12 to 14, further comprising instructing the actuator to move the cover of the armrest box from the first deflected position or the second deflected position to a normal position in response to a signal that the vehicle has not suffered a collision.
 




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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