Gerald A. Doty 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).
Abstract: A low-cost energy management device for dissipating a portion of the energy imparted to a safety belt in a rapid vehicular deceleration is preferably comprised of two pieces, viz., a strap and a channel-shaped guide and deflector member. The strap has a row of deflectable tabs or beams and is mounted to the vehicle. The channel-shaped guide and deflector member is secured to a seat belt retractor and straddles the strap and slides along the strap rectilinearly and guides the retractor in this linear sliding movement along the strap while an integral depending deflector portion on the channel-shaped member deflects the beams. The deflecting portion engages two adjacent, spaced, deflected beams on the strap and these spaced deflected abutting the deflecting portion aid in aligning the deflector member to travel in a straight line path. The guiding and deflecting member has staking tabs to stake the channel-shaped member to the retractor in a low-cost manner.
Abstract: The present invention provides an intentionally set or overt comfort system to be employed in a vehicle seat belt retractor for rewinding a seat belt. The system requires an overt activation by the occupant through a predetermined sequence of deliberate belt manipulations for activating the intentional set comfort system and subsequently actuating the tension-relieving mode. The preferred intentional set comfort system comprises primarily two major components which include a belt sensing activation mechanism and a tension-relieving mechanism. The belt sensing mechanism senses a deliberate protraction of the belt beyond a distance of normal occupant use for shifting the tension-relieving mechanism to an activated state. In response to the belt sensing activation mechanism, an actuator arm shifts the tension-relieving mechanism to its activated state.
Abstract: In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a vehicle seat belt retractor having an activation system that responds to an anti-locking braking system and that actuates the retractor to prevent protraction of the seat belt. The preferred activation system includes a control circuit that energizes an activation mechanism when the anti-locking braking system is activated and prohibits energization of the activation mechanism when the braking system is deactivated. The preferred activation mechanism is a small modular unit which is externally mounted to a seat belt retractor and which generally includes a base, an activation lever and a solenoid. The base is mounted to the side of the retractor, and the solenoid and the activation lever are mounted on the base. More particularly, the activation lever is pivotally mounted on the base and extends into the retractor to a position underneath the pawl of the retractor.
Abstract: A free-falling, self-locking adjustable tip assembly is provided for a safety belt apparatus, which has a seat belt retractor at one belt end and for rewinding the belt and pulling one belt portion into a generally vertical position at belt release. A tip-assembly engagement means contacts the belt and acts on a slide with a first rib on the slide movable across the top of a tongue plate to wedge the belt between a pair of ribs on an insert carried by the tongue plate. The first rib is on a metal slide means and is located above the tongue plate, as are the pair of ribs on the insert. The locking of belt prevents transfer of the belt from the shoulder portion to lap portion is at a location above the tongue plate. When the tip assembly is unbuckled, the grip is released and the tip assembly free falls along the belt.
Abstract: A seat belt retractor having a rattle suppression mechanism to be operative when the retractor is not in use including a gear mechanism driven by a seat belt supporting reel and coupled to drive a pawl control mechanism between a first position holding a reel locking pawl in an inoperative position, when the seat belt is fully wound and immobilizing the pawl against rattling, and a second position, when the seat belt is protracted, in which the pawl is released for movement into a locking position with ratchet wheels on the reel. Preferably, the pawl control mechanism includes a gear mechanism that assures that the belt must be wound on the reel before the pawl is driven to engage and is held against an inertia member to prevent rattling therebetween. The pawl is also held spaced from the ratchet teeth, when it is immobilized, to prevent rattling.
Abstract: In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a noise suppression mechanism for a seat belt retractor used in a vehicle. The preferred retractor includes a reel journaled on a reel shaft and having attached a ratchet wheel with ratchet teeth. The ratchet teeth may be engaged by a pivotally frame-mounted locking pawl. The pawl may pivot between an inoperative position in which the pawl is spaced from the ratchet wheel and an operative position in which an inertial device urges the pawl into engagement with the ratchet wheel to prevent protraction of the belt. The preferred noise suppression mechanism may include an interlocking disc being mounted on reel shaft for rotation with the ratchet wheel for rotating between an actuated position for immobilizing the locking pawl against rattling and a neutral position allowing the locking pawl to pivot freely.
Abstract: A safety belt system having a retraction spring and a tension-relieving apparatus having a second spring operable to provide a retractive force reducing the belt-applied tensile load on the occupant to an unnoticeable level but adequate to rewind the belt and remove any belt slack, which apparatus is engageable by the occupant after securing the belt.
Abstract: A dual spring seat-belt retractor system with a tension-ease system operable to provide one of two springs continuously maintaining a retractive force on the belt to maintain the belt against the wearer in the tension-ease mode, which tension-ease system is automatically initiated at the cessation of belt protraction with a slight retraction to engage latch means that renders one of the springs ineffective to provide a reduced belt tension. A lost motion connection between the belt reel and the latch means permits limited belt movement by the user while maintaining the reduced tension until a predetermined retraction occurs.
Abstract: Disclosed is the anti-rattle restraint of an otherwise freely pivotable, unevenly counter balanced seat belt looking pawl subject to rattle with vehicle vibration. A light bias urging the pawl out of contact with the ratchets on the belt spool is maintained by an arm mounted on the spool shaft with a frictional fit sufficient to maintain the bias on the pawl and to effect instant removal of the arm upon withdrawal of the belt from the retractor, but inadequate to retard rotation of the shaft after the arm has moved through the limited arc of travel permitted to it.
Abstract: A compact safety belt retractor is provided with a large coil of webbing on a rotatable reel and locking pawl teeth are able to have locking engagement with toothed wheels on the reel even when the coil of webbing has a larger diameter than the diameter of a circle defined by the teeth of the ratchet wheels. The coil of webbing preferably extends the full depth of the retractor from front edges of the sidewalls of the frame to the rear frame wall of the retractor. Thus, a large coil of webbing may be stored for the depth of the retractor. To reduce the side-to-side width of retractor, it is preferred to have reel ratchet wheels mounted in the plane of the frame sidewalls and to have the pawl teeth also mounted in openings in the sidewalls of the retractor frame. The pawl teeth are elongated columns and are loaded in columnar manner with substantially small shear or bending stresses thereon.
Abstract: An inertia retractor may be provided with an automatic locking mode by the addition of an assembly mounted as an attachment to sidewall of the inertia retractor. The assembly allows the retractor to be used as an inertia retractor until the belt is pulled to a predetermined extent whereupon a belt coil sensor senses this predetermined belt extraction and operates an actuator to shift a pawl into locking engagement with the ratchet wheels and thereby into the automatic locking mode. When the belt rewinds, the belt coil sensor deactivates the ALR mechanism by latching the pawl actuator thereby allowing an inertia member to again operate the pawl to the locking position upon a deceleration of sufficient magnitude.
Abstract: A safety belt retractor which has a belt gripping or braking mechanism that is movable between a belt gripping position and an inactive position. The braking mechanism includes a brake shoe which engages one side of the seat belt webbing and forces the opposite side of the webbing into tight frictional engagement with a compressible elastomeric pad having a high coefficient of friction. The filaments of the seat belt are compressed into the compressible pad and the pad protrudes into interstices between the filaments. This gripping action by the pad increases the pull load by a substantial amount, for example, about ten percent (10%).
Abstract: A safety belt retractor in which the reel is supported on a movable frame which cooperates with a braking mechanism such that when the reel locks, subsequent belt tension displaces the movable frame into camming engagement with a pivoting braking mechanism to shift a brake shoe into direct contact with the belt web. The brake shoe is supported on the braking mechanism for movement relative thereto. The brake shoe and its mounting portions preferably have complementary interfitting bearing surfaces which share a common axis of curvature, with the bearing surface on the brake shoe being convex, and the complementary surface on the cam being concave.
Abstract: A free-falling, self-locking adjustable tip assembly is provided for a safety belt apparatus, which has a seat belt retractor at one belt end and for rewinding the belt and pulling one belt portion into a generally vertical position at belt release. A tip-assembly engagement means contacts the belt and acts on a slide with a first set of teeth to move the slide to bite and grip the belt, and force the belt against a second set of teeth on a tongue plate for locking the belt against transfer, which tip-assembly tongue plate has an opening for the belt and is connectable to a buckle.
Abstract: A tensionless apparatus for a seat belt and/or shoulder harness retractor assembly is provided, which requires activation of a manual overt actuator and subsequent manual belt protraction to engage the tensionless mode from a release state. The tensionless device has a comfort or "memory" function allowing a limited motion of the user below a predetermined distance and subsequent return to the tensionless position. But belt protraction beyond the predetermined distance again shifts the tension device into the release state with the belt being biased by the retractor rewinding means.
Abstract: A safety belt or harness warning system generally having a laminate-like structure and positioned on the safety belt to expose an underlying one of the lamina indicative of a belt-applied stress above a predetermined stress, and further indicating a belt replacement. The preferred laminate has an underlying adhesive layer, which may be easily adhered to the belt for ease of application, and an interior layer indicating that a high stress force has been applied to the belt.
Abstract: An automotive safety belt retractor comprising a remotely-operable, electromechanical tension-relieving system. The tension-relieving system is shifted into a tension-relieving mode by a conveniently located manual switch. Movement of the user to extract more than a predetermined length of belt while in the tensionless mode shifts the electromechanical actuator from an active to a released position. The electromechanical actuator is normally de-energized and is only energized momentarily when shifting between the tension-relieving and nontension-relieving modes. A second, automatic switch shifts the retractor out of tensionless mode upon opening of the vehicle door.
Abstract: A seat belt retractor system for restraining a passenger in a vehicle is provided with a tension-relieving means engageable by a manual overt actuator, which system includes the following: initiation of the tensionless mode requires conscious actuation by the passenger; incorporation of an activated position, which allows retraction of any belt slack prior to engagement of the tensionless mode; subsequent slight belt protraction beyond the activated position engages the tensionless mode; a "memory" allowing belt protraction, less than a predetermined length, from the tensionless mode and return thereto; a means whereby belt protraction greater than the predetermined distance automatically returns the retractor and belt to the tensioned mode; and, an automatically operable actuator, which may be activated by the opening of the vehicle door for automatic return of the retractor to the belt-tensioned mode.
Abstract: An improved tip assembly including a tongue plate insertable into a buckle is provided for a safety belt system in which a continuous retractable belt length provides both a lap portion and a shoulder portion. The tip assembly through which the belt passes has a snubber slide engaged with the tongue plate and slidable relative thereto. When the belt is drawn across the occupant's body, the belt shifts the snubber slide rearwardly on the tongue plate to a point where the belt is firmly gripped between a surface of the tongue plate and a surface of the snubber slide, whereby that portion of the belt which extends across the occupant's lap cannot expand. When the belt is retracted so that a run of the belt is substantially vertical, the weight of the tip assembly causes its front end to tip downwardly causing the slide to fall vertically along the tongue plate releasing its grip on the belt, whereby the tip assembly freely falls to a lower position along the vertical belt position.
Abstract: A seat belt retractor assembly includes lighting means for illuminating areas of a vehicle floor adjacent the retractor assembly. The preferred retractor assembly includes a plastic housing which has an opening with a lamp mounted on it to shine light through the opening. Herein, a pair of forward and rearward lamps are mounted on the same housing that covers an internal retractor assembly having a pair of seat belt retractors for a lap belt and a shoulder belt portions of an elongated seat belt. The lights are electrically connected to switches having sensing means for determining whether the vehicle doors are open or closed so that the lights may be selectively activated depending on whether the doors are opened or closed.