Patents Assigned to TRW Inc.
  • Patent number: 7401677
    Abstract: A steering system (10) for a vehicle (16) comprises a housing (20) having first and second end portions (32, 34) and an intermediate portion (50). A steering member (66) is supported for axial movement in the housing (20). A piston (100) fixed for movement with the steering member (66) has opposite end faces (104, 106). First and second springs (130, 132) engage the end faces (104, 106) of the piston (100) and bias the piston and thereby the steering member (66) in first and second axial directions toward a straight ahead position. Steering linkage (124, 126) connected with the piston member (100) transmits movement of the piston member (100) to steerable wheels (12, 14) of the vehicle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 13, 2002
    Date of Patent: July 22, 2008
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventors: Kevin E. Boyle, Terry D. Carson, Mark A. Cartwright, Stephen J. Green, Kurt Achenbach
  • Patent number: 7163230
    Abstract: Apparatus (10) for helping to protect an occupant of a vehicle includes an inflatable vehicle occupant protection device (14) inflatable between the vehicle side structure (16) and a vehicle occupant. The device (14) defines an inflatable volume (58) that includes a forward portion (64) and a rearward portion (66). An inflation fluid source (24) is in fluid communication with a fill tube (22) and provides helium inflation fluid for inflating the device (14). The fill tube (22) includes outlet apertures (100) that direct the inflation fluid into the inflatable volume to inflate the device (14) initially to a first pressure and maintain the device inflated above a second pressure for a predetermined time. The inflation fluid directed into the inflatable volume (58) has a temperature and a pressure that are generally the same in the forward and rearward portions (64 and 66) during initial inflation of the device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 23, 2001
    Date of Patent: January 16, 2007
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventors: John P. O'Loughlin, Halley O. Stevens, Kenneth K. Gudewich, David G. Magoteaux
  • Patent number: 7123747
    Abstract: A method for helping to control a vehicle occupant protection device (22) includes taking an image of the vehicle interior with a digital imager (50) having an array of pixels (53). A contiguous portion of the image less than the entire image is selected. At least one image enhancement technique is applied to the selected image portion. The enhanced image portion is combined with the other portions of the image to make an enhanced image. The enhanced image is analyzed to detect at least one of features and characteristics of the enhanced image. Alternatively, a selected non-contiguous group of the pixels (53) of the imager (50) are read out, as representative of the entire image, to estimate the illumination levels across the entire array of pixels. In one aspect, the imager shutter (56) speed may be controlled to enhance the image.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 28, 2002
    Date of Patent: October 17, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventors: Jon K. Wallace, Farid Khairallah, Barry Dunbridge, John J. Berenz
  • Patent number: 7110570
    Abstract: An imaging system (50) for providing vehicle security and convenience features that employs face recognition software to identify and track a person. The system (50) employs infrared emitters (30) that emit an infrared signal along a predetermined field-of-view, and an infrared sensor (34), such as a CMOS sensor used as a video signal array, that receives reflected infrared illumination from objects in the field-of-view. A processor (52) including the face recognition software, is employed to detect human faces to identify and track the person. Once a face is detected, it can be compared to a data base to identify the person.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 21, 2000
    Date of Patent: September 19, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventors: John J. Berenz, George W. McIver, Joseph W. Niesen, Barry Dunbridge, Gregory A. Shreve
  • Patent number: 7055646
    Abstract: This invention relates to an improved structure for a rack drive assembly adapted for use in a vehicle electric power steering assembly. The electric power steering assembly includes a steering member (32), a ball nut assembly (70), a bearing assembly (80) and an electric motor (60). The steering member (32) is disposed in a rack housing (30) and includes a rack portion (34) operatively connected to a vehicle steering wheel (12) and a screw portion (40) having an external thread convolution (42). The ball nut assembly (70) is operatively connected to the screw portion (40) of the rack portion (34) of the steering member (32) for effecting axial movement of the steering member (32) upon rotation of the vehicle steering wheel (12). The ball nut assembly (70) includes a rotor shaft (76) and a ball nut (72) fixed to the shaft (76) for rotation therewith. The ball nut (72) includes an outer surface (96) and the rotor shaft (76) includes an inner surface (114).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 12, 2002
    Date of Patent: June 6, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Mark Bugosh
  • Patent number: 7047836
    Abstract: An apparatus (10) includes first and second plates (44 and 84) extending parallel to each other and movable relative to each other. A locking mechanism (140) prevents movement between the first and second plates (44 and 84). The locking mechanism (140) has a first position applying a force to urge the first and second plates (44 and 84) toward each other to prevent movement between the first and second plates. The locking mechanism (140) has a second position to permit relative movement between the first and second plates (44 and 84). A surface treatment on one of the first and second plates (44 and 84) and between the first and second plates resists relative movement between the first and second plates when the locking mechanism (140) is in the first position. The surface treatment lubricates relative movement between the first and second plates (44 and 84) when the locking mechanism (140) is in the second position.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 1, 2002
    Date of Patent: May 23, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: James M. Hobaugh, II
  • Patent number: 7048461
    Abstract: A ball joint assembly (10) comprises a socket (12) with a chamber (18), an opening extending through a first axial end (20) of the socket (12), and electrically conductive structure (60) closing the second axial end (22) of the socket (12). An electrically conductive ball stud (30) has a head portion (32) that is received in the chamber (18) and a shank portion (34) that extends through the opening. An electrically conductive bearing member (40) is received in the chamber (18) and provides an electrical connection between the structure (60) and the ball stud (30). An electrically non-conductive biasing member (50) is interposed between the structure (60) and the bearing member (40) and urges the bearing member away from the structure such that, in response to a predetermined amount of wear, the electrical connection between the structure (60) and the ball stud (30) is discontinued.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 20, 2002
    Date of Patent: May 23, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Daniel E. Williams
  • Patent number: 7021190
    Abstract: A rack and pinion steering apparatus (10) comprises a first bearing surface (38) that is formed on a surface (36) that defines a passage (24) in housing (12). An input assembly (120) that includes a first portion (124) of a control valve (132) extends into the passage (24) of the housing (12). An output assembly (80) that includes a second portion (84) of the control valve (132) is located in the passage (24) of the housing (12). A second bearing surface (96) is formed on an outer surface (94) of the output assembly (80). The first bearing surface (38) cooperates with the second bearing surface (96) to define an annular space (162) for receiving fluid and for supporting rotation of the output assembly (80) relative to the housing (12).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 14, 2002
    Date of Patent: April 4, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Jack L. Place
  • Patent number: 7017942
    Abstract: Apparatus (10) for helping to protect an occupant of a vehicle (12) that has a side structure (16) and a roof (18) includes an inflatable vehicle occupant protection device (14). The inflatable vehicle occupant protection device (14) is inflatable away from the vehicle roof (18) into a position between the side structure (16) of the vehicle (12) and a vehicle occupant. The apparatus (10) also includes a housing (26) for storing the inflatable vehicle occupant protection device (14) in a stored position extending along the vehicle side structure (16) adjacent the vehicle roof (18). The housing (26) includes a portion that forms an interior trim piece (190) of the vehicle (12). The apparatus (10) also includes at least one grab handle (34) and at least one connector (200) that extends through the inflatable vehicle occupant protection device (14), the housing (26) and the grab handle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 1, 2002
    Date of Patent: March 28, 2006
    Assignees: TRW Inc., TRW Vehicle Safety Systems Inc.
    Inventors: Wael S. Elqadah, Xingyuan Sun, Bruce R. Hill, John P. Wallner
  • Patent number: 7015801
    Abstract: A tire condition sensor unit (e.g., 18A) is for use within a tire condition communication system (10). The sensor unit (e.g., 18A) is for association with a tire (e.g., 14A) of a vehicle (12) and, via a method, communicates a tire condition to a vehicle-based unit (28). A sensor (58) senses the tire condition. Radio frequency transmit circuitry and an antenna (68 and 22) transmit a radio frequency signal (e.g., 24A) that indicates the sensed tire condition. In one aspect, a low frequency antenna and a signal detector (48 and 52) receive a low frequency initiation signal that causes transmission of the radio frequency signal indicative of the sensed tire condition. In another aspect, the radio frequency signal is also indicative of a fixed identification.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 13, 2000
    Date of Patent: March 21, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: David Leonard Juzswik
  • Patent number: 7016537
    Abstract: An apparatus (34) and associated method are provided for vehicle occupant sensing. An EM energy driver component (36) and associated EM energy source (40) provide a modulated beam (44, e.g., IR light), and a movable reflection component (46) scans the beam onto an occupant location. A detector (92) detects beam reflection and a phase determination component (96) processes phase information that is provided to a controller (24). Within the controller (24) processing (114, 116, and 118) provides mapping of occupant contours and determination of an occupant characteristic.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 2, 2001
    Date of Patent: March 21, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Stephen R. W. Cooper
  • Patent number: 7002483
    Abstract: An arrangement (10) for remotely controlling convenience functions at a plurality of devices (35X–35Y) includes a plurality of device-based receivers (30X–30Y) and a plurality of portable transmitters (20A–20C). Each of the plurality of receivers (30X–30Y) include the capability of receiving a remote convenience function request signal and conveying a remote convenience function request message to a device operations system (38X or 38Y) for use in performing a remotely requested convenience function. Each of the plurality of transmitters (20A–20C) include capability of being configurable to be compatible with any of the plurality of receivers (30X–30Y) for outputting a remote convenience function request signal to cause remote control performance of a function at the respective device (35X or 35Y).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 11, 2001
    Date of Patent: February 21, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Ansaf Ibrahem Alrabady
  • Patent number: 6983955
    Abstract: An apparatus (10) for helping to protect a vehicle occupant includes an actuatable vehicle occupant protection device (12), and a microelectromechanical (MEMS) device (20) energizable to cause actuation of the protection device. In one embodiment, the MEMS device (20) is an energizable fluid source for emitting a primary fluid for actuating an inflatable protection device (12). The apparatus (10) may comprise a plurality of MEMS devices (20) individually actuatable to control inflation of the protection device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 5, 2001
    Date of Patent: January 10, 2006
    Assignees: TRW Inc., TRW Vehicle Safety Systems Inc.
    Inventors: Lee D. Bergerson, Ivan L. Stonich, Douglas P. Campbell, Brian R. Pitstick, Paul A. Bowers, Ernst M. Faigle
  • Patent number: 6984796
    Abstract: An apparatus (10) includes a switch assembly (12). The switch assembly (12) includes a housing (16) and a set of contacts (14) supported by the housing. The set of contacts (14) includes a first contact (20) and a second contact (40). The first contact (20) includes a first pad portion (22) supported in the housing (16) and a first connector portion (26) protruding from the housing. The first connector portion (26) includes a compliant connector (220). The second contact (40) includes a second pad portion (42) supported in the housing (16) and a second connector portion (54) protruding from the housing. The second pad portion (42) is movable relative to and is engageable with the first pad portion (22). The second connector portion (54) includes a compliant connector (220).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 16, 2002
    Date of Patent: January 10, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Mike Blossfeld
  • Patent number: 6973989
    Abstract: A steering apparatus (10) for a vehicle having steerable road-engaging wheels comprises a rotatable steering wheel (11) and a sensor (12) which senses the rotational position of the steering wheel and generates a first signal corresponding to the sensed rotational position of the steering wheel (11). A first electric motor (14), when energized, resists rotation of the steering wheel (11). A second electric motor (20) is controlled by the signal generated by the sensor for sensing the rotational position of the steering wheel (11). A steering gear (130) is actuated by the second electric motor (20) to turn the steerable wheels of the vehicle. An electrical circuit (19) includes the first and second motors (14 and 20) in series.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 30, 2001
    Date of Patent: December 13, 2005
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Daniel E. Williams
  • Patent number: 6968176
    Abstract: A vehicle communication path-tracing system (10) has a portable transmitter (12) and transceiver/controllers (14A–14N, 14T), located separately from the transmitter (12). A transmitter/controller (14T) is located at a target vehicle (16T) and at least one other transceiver/controller (e.g., 14A) is located at an intermediate location. An intermediate transceiver/controller receives a command signal intended for the target vehicle and transmits a retransmitted command signal intended for the target vehicle. The target transceiver/controller receives the retransmitted command signal and transmits an acknowledgement signal, intended for reception by the at least one intermediate transceiver/controller that transmitted the retransmitted command signal received at the target vehicle. The at least one intermediate transceiver/controller receives an acknowledgement signal and transmits a retransmitted acknowledgement signal.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 12, 2002
    Date of Patent: November 22, 2005
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: David Leonard Juzswik
  • Patent number: 6964211
    Abstract: A vehicle steering column (10) comprises an axially extending input shaft (12) for connecting to a vehicle steering wheel. The input shaft (12) is rotatable about an axis (A) upon rotation of the steering wheel. The vehicle steering column (10) also comprises a housing (16) at least partially enclosing the input shaft (12). A bearing (92) is interposed between the housing (16) and the input shaft (12) and supports the input shaft (12) for rotation about the axis (A). The housing (16) has at least one series of axially spaced, annular ribs (52) that at least partially extend around the bearing (92). Axially adjacent annular ribs (52) are separated by an annular groove (58). A gasket (100) is interposed between the bearing (92) and the ribs (52). The gasket (100) encircles the bearing (92). The ribs (52) resist axial movement of the gasket (100).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 6, 2000
    Date of Patent: November 15, 2005
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Thomas R. St. Myer
  • Patent number: 6964613
    Abstract: A universal joint (10) includes a cross member (24) having a trunnion (26) with a radially outer surface (32). A cup (20) is connectable with the trunnion (26) and a yoke (18). The cup (20) has an open end (54) with a radially outer surface (58). A bearing (30) supports the cup (20) for rotation relative to the trunnion (26). A seal (48) engages the trunnion (26) and the cup (20). The seal (48) has a first axial end portion (50) engaging the radially outer surface (32) of the trunnion (26) and a second axial end portion (52) engaging the radially outer surface (58) of the cup (20). The first axial end portion (50) is stretched over the radially outer surface (32) of the trunnion (26) and the second axial end portion (52) is stretched over the radially outer surface (58) of the cup (20).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 24, 2002
    Date of Patent: November 15, 2005
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: James M. Hobaugh, II
  • Patent number: 6960145
    Abstract: The invention relates to a tensioning device for use in vehicle power steering assembly, in particular, having a drive unit for rotating an input pulley rotatably connected to an output pulley via a flexible belt. The tensioning device includes a housing and an arm movably attached relative to the housing. A contact device is mounted on the arm and is adapted to be engaged with a portion of the belt between the input and output pulleys. The arm is movable relative to the belt to position the contact device against the belt to provide tension on the belt.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 30, 2002
    Date of Patent: November 1, 2005
    Assignee: TRW, Inc.
    Inventors: Richard R. Fraley, Jr., Mark Joseph Bugosh, William Albert Konior
  • Patent number: RE39314
    Abstract: An apparatus for enclosing an air bag (38) on a steering wheel (22) includes an inner cover (34) at least partially enclosing the air bag (38) and having a tear seam central portion (50) along which the inner cover ruptures upon inflation of the air bag (38). An outer cover (36) at least partially encloses the inner cover (34) and the air bag (38) and includes a tear seam central portion (49) with a length substantially equal to the length of the tear seam central portion (50) in the inner cover (34). A horn switch (58) is disposed between the inner and outer covers (34 and 36) for effecting operation of a horn. The horn switch (58) includes first and second tear seams (64, 65) aligned with the tear seam central portions (50 and 49) in the inner and outer covers (34 and 36). The first and second tear seams (64, 65) in the horn switch (58) have a combined length substantially less than the length of each of the tear seams (49 and 50).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 19, 1998
    Date of Patent: October 3, 2006
    Assignee: TRW Inc.
    Inventor: Hiroshi Nemoto