Patents by Inventor Brian J. Pinkelman

Brian J. Pinkelman has filed for patents to protect the following inventions. This listing includes patent applications that are pending as well as patents that have already been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Publication number: 20200298732
    Abstract: A vehicle seat can be configured to selectively provide support to a vehicle occupant in conditions when lateral acceleration is experienced. An actuator can be located within the vehicle seat. When activated, the actuator cause a portion of the seat to morph into an activated configuration. The actuator can be activated based on vehicle speed, steering angle, and/or lateral acceleration. The actuator can include end members connected by a shape memory material connecting member. Actuator blocks with sliding surfaces can be located between the end members. The actuator can be configured such that, in response to an activation input, the shape memory material connecting member contracts, which draws the end members toward each other and causes corresponding sliding surfaces of the plurality of actuator blocks to engage and slide relative to each other. In this way, the actuator morphs into an activated configuration in which its overall height increases.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 22, 2019
    Publication date: September 24, 2020
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman, Ryohei Tsuruta, Mark A. Gummin
  • Publication number: 20200282878
    Abstract: Actuators can be used in controlling a seat surface of a vehicle seat. The actuators can have an outer skin in connection with a hinge assemblies. The actuators can include a shape-memory material (SMM) member operatively connected to the hinge assemblies. The SMM member can be a shape-memory alloy (SMA) wire. The SMM member can change from a first configuration to the second configuration in response to an activation input, such as heat. The input can be delivered to the SMM member upon detecting an activation condition, such as detection of lateral acceleration. The actuators are operatively positioned relative to a seat surface such that, when the SMM member changes configuration, actuator causes the seat surface to morph.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 6, 2019
    Publication date: September 10, 2020
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman, Ryohei Tsuruta, Mark A. Gummin
  • Publication number: 20200247274
    Abstract: A vehicle seat can be configured to selectively provide support to a vehicle occupant in conditions when lateral acceleration is experienced. An actuator can be located within the vehicle seat. When activated, the actuator cause a portion of the seat to morph into an activated configuration. The actuator can be activated based on vehicle speed, steering angle, and/or lateral acceleration. The actuator can include a main body member, a first end member pivotably connected to a first end region of the main body member, and a second end member pivotably connected to a second end region of the main body member. The actuator can include shape memory material connecting members. The actuator can be configured such that, in response to an activation input, the shape memory material connecting members contract, causing the first and second end members pivot, which causes the actuator to morph into an activated configuration.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 31, 2019
    Publication date: August 6, 2020
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman, Ryohei Tsuruta, Mark A. Gummin
  • Publication number: 20200238854
    Abstract: A vehicle seat can be configured to selectively provide support to a vehicle occupant in conditions when lateral acceleration is experienced. An actuator can be located within the vehicle seat. When activated, the actuator cause a portion of the seat to morph into an activated configuration. The actuator can be activated based on vehicle speed, steering angle, and/or lateral acceleration. The actuator can include a bladder containing a dielectric fluid. A first and second conductor can be operatively positioned on opposite portions of the bladder. When electrical energy is supplied to the first and second conductors, they can have opposite charges. As a result, the first and second conductors can be electrostatically attracted toward each other to cause at least a portion of the dielectric fluid to be displaced to an outer peripheral region of the bladder, which bulges as a result and increases an overall height of the actuator.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 30, 2019
    Publication date: July 30, 2020
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman, Ryohei Tsuruta
  • Publication number: 20200223325
    Abstract: A shape memory alloy (SMA) controlled hinge assembly is provided, including assemblies and combinations for adjusting a shape or position of an occupant support component, such as a vehicle seat support component or other seating component. The assembly includes an occupant support component and a hinge assembly configured to adjust a shape or position of at least a portion of the occupant support component. The hinge assembly includes a stationary plate and a movable plate rotatable relative to the base plate about a fixed axis of rotation. The hinge assembly includes a shape memory alloy wire coupling the stationary plate with the movable plate. An actuator is provided and configured to transform the phase of the shape memory alloy wire. In various aspects, the occupant support component is selected from one of a seat bottom; a seatback; a seat bolster; a seat head rest, and the like.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 10, 2019
    Publication date: July 16, 2020
    Inventors: Brian J. Pinkelman, Umesh N. Gandhi, Ryohei Tsuruta
  • Patent number: 10677310
    Abstract: A vibration isolator mechanism is provided for limiting transfer of vibrations from a first element to a second element coupled to the first element. The vibration isolator mechanism may include a vibration isolator structured to provide a quasi-zero/negative stiffness response to a force applied to the vibration isolator when the applied force is within a predetermined range. The vibration isolator mechanism may also include a force application mechanism structured to apply a force to the vibration isolator. The vibration isolator mechanism may also include a force adjustment mechanism structured to adjust the force applied to the vibration isolator by the force application mechanism so that the applied force is within the predetermined range.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 14, 2017
    Date of Patent: June 9, 2020
    Assignee: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Ryohei Tsuruta, Brian J. Pinkelman, Rajendra Singh, Nicholas P. Mastricola
  • Patent number: 10532672
    Abstract: An adjustable firmness seat suspension includes a seat frame, first and second spring members, and an intermediate tensioning member. The seat frame includes a first frame member and a second frame member spaced apart from and opposite one another. The first spring member is attached to the first frame member, the second spring member is attached to the second frame member, and the intermediate tensioning member is attached to and extends between the first spring member and the second spring member. The intermediate tensioning member is formed from a shape memory alloy (SMA) having a first length that provides a first spring tension of the seat suspension through the first and second spring members, and configured to alter its length to a second length that provides a second spring tension of the seat suspension through the first and second spring members in response to application of a tensioning signal thereto.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 3, 2018
    Date of Patent: January 14, 2020
    Assignee: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
    Inventors: Brian J. Pinkelman, Umesh N. Gandhi, Ryohei Tsuruta
  • Publication number: 20200010001
    Abstract: An adjustable firmness seat suspension includes a seat frame, first and second spring members, and an intermediate tensioning member. The seat frame includes a first frame member and a second frame member spaced apart from and opposite one another. The first spring member is attached to the first frame member, the second spring member is attached to the second frame member, and the intermediate tensioning member is attached to and extends between the first spring member and the second spring member. The intermediate tensioning member is formed from a shape memory alloy (SMA) having a first length that provides a first spring tension of the seat suspension through the first and second spring members, and configured to alter its length to a second length that provides a second spring tension of the seat suspension through the first and second spring members in response to application of a tensioning signal thereto.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 3, 2018
    Publication date: January 9, 2020
    Inventors: Brian J. Pinkelman, Umesh N. Gandhi, Ryohei Tsuruta
  • Patent number: 10479246
    Abstract: Seats in vehicles may include a seat cushion having a seating surface, a vibration isolation structure and a foam structure, with the seating surface configured to support an occupant. The seat cushion may include either a seat bottom or a seat back, with the vibration isolation structure configured to evenly distribute forces exerted by the occupant. The vibration isolation structure may include a plurality of individual lattice blocks. The plurality of individual lattice blocks may occupy a pattern based on a spatial weight distribution of an average-sized occupant or a pattern based on a spatial weight distribution tailored for a specific occupant. The plurality of individual lattice blocks may cooperate to provide the even pressure distribution against forces exerted by the occupant. The vibration isolation structure may isolate vibration in a range from about 0.5 Hz to about 5.0 Hz.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 28, 2017
    Date of Patent: November 19, 2019
    Assignee: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
    Inventors: Herbert Meingast, Recep M. Gorguluarslan, Umesh Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman
  • Patent number: 10459475
    Abstract: A temperature moderation apparatus is structured to be positioned in vehicle passenger compartment. The apparatus includes an outer shell defining an interior of the shell, the wall has an exterior surface structured and positioned for physical contact with a skin surface of a vehicle occupant. The outer shell wall also has a plurality of through-holes formed therein. A phase change material element is positioned within the shell interior. The phase change material element includes a stretchable, thermally-conductive outer wall and a quantity of phase change material positioned therein. A pressurization mechanism is coupled to the phase change material element, the pressurization mechanism is structured to pressurize the phase change material element so as to force portions of the phase change material element to extend from the interior of the shell into associated ones of the through holes and past the outer shell wall exterior surface.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 3, 2017
    Date of Patent: October 29, 2019
    Assignee: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman, Shailesh N. Joshi
  • Publication number: 20190322305
    Abstract: A vehicle steering wheel includes a first volume of phase change material and a second volume of phase change material spaced apart from the first volume of phase change material. The first volume of phase change material contains a greater mass of phase change material than the second volume of phase change material. A first wall forms a rim of the steering wheel. The first wall is in direct contact with both the first volume of phase change material and the second volume of phase change material, so as to facilitate heat transfer between the first volume of phase change material and the second volume of phase change material.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 1, 2019
    Publication date: October 24, 2019
    Inventors: Brian J. Pinkelman, Umesh N. Gandhi, Shailesh N. Joshi
  • Patent number: 10377407
    Abstract: A vehicle component includes a first volume of phase change material and a second volume of phase change material spaced apart from the first volume of phase change material. The first volume of phase change material contains a greater mass of phase change material than the second volume of phase change material. The component also includes a thermally-conductive structure in direct contact with both the first volume of phase change material and the second volume of phase change material, so as to facilitate heat transfer between the first volume of phase change material and the second volume of phase change material.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 8, 2017
    Date of Patent: August 13, 2019
    Assignee: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
    Inventors: Brian J. Pinkelman, Umesh N. Gandhi, Shailesh Joshi
  • Patent number: 10371229
    Abstract: An adjustable vibration isolator for limiting transfer of vibrations from a first element to a second element coupled to the first element. The isolator includes conical disc spring members, each having a first end including a central opening, a central axis, and a second end opposite the first end. The second end includes an outer edge of the spring member. A spacer is coupled to each spring member so as to enable a transfer of forces between the spring member and the spacer. Spring member deflection resistance mechanisms are operable to adjustably resist movement of the outer edges of the spring members in directions radially outwardly during loading of the spring members. Resistance of movement of the outer edges of the spring members enables control of a force required to deflect the spring members, and control of the force-deflection curve of the vibration isolator.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 14, 2017
    Date of Patent: August 6, 2019
    Assignee: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Ryohei Tsuruta, Brian J. Pinkelman, Rajendra Singh, Nicholas P. Mastricola
  • Publication number: 20190186588
    Abstract: An adjustable vibration isolator for limiting transfer of vibrations from a first element to a second element coupled to the first element. The isolator includes conical disc spring members, each having a first end including a central opening, a central axis, and a second end opposite the first end. The second end includes an outer edge of the spring member. A spacer is coupled to each spring member so as to enable a transfer of forces between the spring member and the spacer. Spring member deflection resistance mechanisms are operable to adjustably resist movement of the outer edges of the spring members in directions radially outwardly during loading of the spring members. Resistance of movement of the outer edges of the spring members enables control of a force required to deflect the spring members, and control of the force-deflection curve of the vibration isolator.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 14, 2017
    Publication date: June 20, 2019
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Ryohei Tsuruta, Brian J. Pinkelman, Rajendra Singh, Nicholas P. Mastricola
  • Publication number: 20190186589
    Abstract: An energy-absorbing structure for a vibration isolator includes a conical disc spring member having a first end including a central opening and a second end opposite the first end. The structure also includes at least one spacer having a base portion with a first side. The base portion first side defines a cavity structured to receive therein a second end of the spring member. The cavity has a floor, and a second end of the spring member is positioned in contact with the floor. The floor includes an opening formed therein and positioned so as to reside opposite the first end of the spring member when the second end of the spring member is positioned in contact with the cavity floor. The opening is structured to receive at least a portion of the first end of the spring member therein during an inversion of the spring member.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 14, 2017
    Publication date: June 20, 2019
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Ryohei Tsuruta, Brian J. Pinkelman, Rajendra Singh, Nicholas P. Mastricola
  • Publication number: 20190186587
    Abstract: A vibration isolator mechanism is provided for limiting transfer of vibrations from a first element to a second element coupled to the first element. The vibration isolator mechanism may include a vibration isolator structured to provide a quasi-zero/negative stiffness response to a force applied to the vibration isolator when the applied force is within a predetermined range. The vibration isolator mechanism may also include a force application mechanism structured to apply a force to the vibration isolator. The vibration isolator mechanism may also include a force adjustment mechanism structured to adjust the force applied to the vibration isolator by the force application mechanism so that the applied force is within the predetermined range.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 14, 2017
    Publication date: June 20, 2019
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Ryohei Tsuruta, Brian J. Pinkelman, Rajendra Singh, Nicholas P. Mastricola
  • Publication number: 20180345889
    Abstract: Systems and methods are provided for predicting a desired position of or adjustment to one or more accommodation devices of a vehicle, e.g., a seat, a steering wheel, a rearview mirror, etc. A user's position or adjustment preferences may be learned over time by measuring or obtaining data regarding the position or adjustment of accommodation devices. These learned position or adjustment preferences may be stored along with a corresponding day, time of day, and/or vehicle location during or at which the position or adjustment preferences were measured or obtained. During a subsequent occurrence of the day, time of day, and/or if the vehicle is at or traverses a location during which a previous position or adjustment was made, the same or similar position or adjustment can be effectuated. Whether or not the position or adjustment is effectuated can depend on how accurate the predicted position or adjustment may be.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 6, 2017
    Publication date: December 6, 2018
    Inventors: Brian J. Pinkelman, Trey Souchock
  • Publication number: 20180321703
    Abstract: A temperature moderation apparatus is structured to be positioned in vehicle passenger compartment. The apparatus includes an outer shell defining an interior of the shell, the wall has an exterior surface structured and positioned for physical contact with a skin surface of a vehicle occupant. The outer shell wall also has a plurality of through-holes formed therein. A phase change material element is positioned within the shell interior. The phase change material element includes a stretchable, thermally-conductive outer wall and a quantity of phase change material positioned therein. A pressurization mechanism is coupled to the phase change material element, the pressurization mechanism is structured to pressurize the phase change material element so as to force portions of the phase change material element to extend from the interior of the shell into associated ones of the through holes and past the outer shell wall exterior surface.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 3, 2017
    Publication date: November 8, 2018
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman, Shailesh N. Joshi
  • Publication number: 20180312086
    Abstract: Seats in vehicles may include a seat cushion having a seating surface, a vibration isolation structure and a foam structure, with the seating surface configured to support an occupant. The seat cushion may include either a seat bottom or a seat back, with the vibration isolation structure configured to evenly distribute forces exerted by the occupant. The vibration isolation structure may include a plurality of individual lattice blocks. The plurality of individual lattice blocks may occupy a pattern based on a spatial weight distribution of an average-sized occupant or a pattern based on a spatial weight distribution tailored for a specific occupant. The plurality of individual lattice blocks may cooperate to provide the even pressure distribution against forces exerted by the occupant. The vibration isolation structure may isolate vibration in a range from about 0.5 Hz to about 5.0 Hz.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 28, 2017
    Publication date: November 1, 2018
    Inventors: Herbert Meingast, Recep M. Gorguluarslan, Umesh Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman
  • Patent number: 10065542
    Abstract: A seat for a vehicle is provided includes a padding member and at least one phase change material element supported in a passage formed within the padding member. The at least one phase change material element is supported in the passage so as to be movable between a first location in which the at least one phase change material element is spaced apart from an occupant support side of the padding member when the seat is unoccupied, and a second location in which at least a portion of the at least one phase change material element is at least level with the occupant support side of the at least one padding member when the seat is unoccupied. The at least one phase change material element is structured to absorb heat from a vehicle occupant, thereby cooling the occupant.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 13, 2017
    Date of Patent: September 4, 2018
    Assignee: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.
    Inventors: Umesh N. Gandhi, Brian J. Pinkelman