STORAGE DEVICE

A storage device basically comprises a main body part with an access opening, a lid and a lid opening/closing mechanism. The lid includes a first lid part movably coupled between a closed position covering the access opening and an opened position exposing the access opening by the lid opening/closing mechanism. The first lid part is hingedly coupled to the lid opening/closing mechanism near a first end of the first lid part so that a second end of the first lid part that is on a side opposite of the first end of the first lid part moves laterally toward the first end of the first lid part while the first end of the first lid part moves upwardly away from the access opening during opening operation of the lid opening/closing mechanism.

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Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to Japanese Patent Application No. 2006-216380, filed on Aug. 9, 2006. The entire disclosure of Japanese Patent Application No. 2006-216380 is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a lid opening/closing mechanism for a vehicle storage device.

2. Background Information

Console boxes and other storage devices are often provided in an interior of a vehicle. In such storage devices, a lid opening system is sometimes provided in which a lid is attached to a main storage body via a hinge part to open and close an upper opening of the main storage body. One example of this type of storage device is disclosed in Japanese Laid-Open Patent Application No. 4-176743). In the storage device of Japanese Laid-Open Patent Application No. 4-176743, the lid is divided into left and right lid parts with a lid opening/closing mechanism moving each of the lid parts between a closed position and an open position. The lid parts are configured so that an inside end part is lifted upward and moved laterally toward the outside of the open part such that the main storage body is opened from a center part as an outside end part is lowered.

In view of the above, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that there exists a need for an improved storage device. This invention addresses this need in the art as well as other needs, which will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It has been discovered that a problem arises in the lid opening/closing mechanism for the storage devices such as the one disclosed in Japanese Laid-Open Patent Application No. 4-176743. In particular, when the main storage body is opened, the inside end parts of the lid parts are lifted upward. Therefore, the storage device cannot be opened if an article or other object is on top of the lid. In other words, when opening of the lid, the inside end parts of the lid parts will be lifted upwardly and will apply an upward force to any article resting on the lid. Thus, the article on top of the lid will be lifted, and the lid parts will be subjected to large loading. Complications are particularly presented when the console box doubles as an armrest, whereby the lid cannot be opened if a person's arm is not removed from the lid.

In order to resolve the foregoing problems, one aspect of the present invention is to provide a storage device which can be opened even when an article is resting on its lid.

According to one aspect, of the present invention, a storage device is provided that basically comprises a main body part, a lid and a lid opening/closing mechanism. The main body part defines an access opening. The lid includes a first lid part movably coupled relative to the main body part between a closed position to cover the access opening and an opened position to expose the access opening. The lid opening/closing mechanism is operatively coupled to the first lid part to move the first lid part between the closed position and the opened position. The first lid part is hingedly coupled to the lid opening/closing mechanism near a first end of the first lid part so that a second end of the first lid part that is on a side opposite of the first end of the first lid part moves laterally toward the first end of the first lid part while the first end of the first lid part moves upwardly away from the access opening during opening operation of the lid opening/closing mechanism.

These and other objects, features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which, taken in conjunction with the annexed drawings, discloses a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the attached drawings which form a part of this original disclosure:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a storage device in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention with a lid of the storage device being closed;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the storage device illustrated in FIG. 1 with the lid in the process of being opened;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 with the lid being fully opened;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a raising/lowering driving mechanism for the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 3;

FIG. 5 is a front end elevational view of a right side portion of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 4 without a raising/lowering stay being removed and the lid being closed by the raising/lowering driving mechanism;

FIG. 6 is a front end elevational view, similar to FIG. 5, of the right side portion of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 5 with the raising/lowering stay being illustrated and the lid being closed by the raising/lowering driving mechanism;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of a front end portion of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 6;

FIG. 8 is a front end elevational view, similar to FIG. 5, of the right side portion of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 7 and the lid being opened by the raising/lowering driving mechanism;

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view, similar to FIG. 6, of the front end portion of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 8 with the raising/lowering stay being illustrated and the lid being opened by the raising/lowering driving mechanism;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 9 in which the storage device is incorporated into an armrest of the vehicle;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view, similar to FIG. 10, of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 10 but with the storage device in the partially opened position; and

FIG. 12 is a perspective view, similar to FIGS. 10 and 11, of the storage device illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 11 but with the storage device in the fully opened position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Selected embodiments of the present invention will now be explained with reference to the drawings. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that the following descriptions of the embodiments of the present invention are provided for illustration only and not for the purpose of limiting the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Referring initially to FIG. 1, a console box or other storage is illustrated in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention. In the illustrated embodiment, as best seen in FIGS. 10 to 12, the storage device 1 is a console box that is incorporated into an armrest of an interior part of a vehicle. The storage device 1 basically includes a main body part 2 defining an access opening 3, a pair of hinge parts 4 and a lid 5. The lid 5 is movably coupled relative to the main body part 2 between a closed position (FIG. 1) to cover the access opening and an opened position (FIG. 2) to expose the access opening 3. More specifically, the lid 5 is hingedly coupled relative to an upper part of the main body part 2 such that the lid 5 moves above the access opening 3.

In the illustrated embodiment, the main body part 2 is a relatively deep bottomed container with the access opening 3 at the upper end. However, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that the main body part 2 can be merely a support structure with other parts of the vehicle interior defining a box with an open upper end. The access opening 3 has a substantially rectangular shape when viewed from above, and extends in a substantially longitudinal direction of the vehicle. The hinge parts 4 enable the lid 5 to be laterally opened about a hinge shaft that extends substantially in the longitudinal direction of the vehicle.

With respect to the above-described basic structure, the hinge parts 4 of the lid opening device are attached to a pair of raising/lowering stays 11. The raising/lowering stays 11 are movably coupled to the main body part 2 in slidable manner (up and down with respect to the vehicle. By selectively raising and lowering the raising/lowering stays 11 with respect to the main body part 2, the access opening 3 is selectively exposed and covered by moving the lid 5 as discussed below. The raising/lowering stays 11 form a part of a hinge raising and lowering mechanism.

Preferably, the lid 5 includes a pair (first and second) of lid parts 15 movably coupled relative to the main body part 2 between a closed position to cover the access opening 3 and an opened position to expose the access opening 3. Alternatively, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that the lid 5 can be a single movable lid part instead of two pieces as illustrated.

As seen in FIGS. 1 to 3, the lid raising/lowering stays 11 is operatively coupled to the lid parts 15 to move the lid parts 15 between the closed position and the opened position. Each of the lid parts 15 has a first end 15a hingedly coupled to the lid raising/lowering stays 11 and a second end 15b that is on a side opposite of the first ends 15a. During an opening operation, the second ends 15b of the lid parts 15 move laterally toward the first ends 15a of the lid parts 15, respectively, while the first ends 15a of the lid parts 15 move upwardly away from the access opening 3. In particular, the lid parts 15 are configured with respect to the main body part 2 and the lid raising/lowering stays 11 so that the second ends 15b of the lid parts 15 on the side opposite the hinge part 4 moves laterally under their own weight toward the hinge part 4 substantially along a pair of curved edge parts 16 defining the access opening 3. Thus, the lid 5 opens downward in conjunction with the raising of the hinge parts 4. The lid 5 is opened and closed from a closed state oriented in a substantially horizontal direction to an opened state oriented in a substantially vertical direction. As mentioned above, the lid 5 can also be configured to open and close as a single body in the same manner.

In the illustrated embodiment, the lid 5 is divided into the left and right lid parts 15 at a center part in a width direction of the vehicle, and opens as two bodies. The hinge parts 4 are provided towards the outside end parts (i.e., the first ends 15a) of the lid parts 15 in the width direction of the vehicle. The lid parts 15 are configured so that the inside end parts (i.e., the second ends 15b) are moved by their own weight toward the outside substantially along the edge parts 16 of the access opening 3, whereby the access opening 3 opens from the center part in conjunction with the raising of the outside end parts.

In this instance, the front and rear of the raising/lowering stays 11 are provided so as to be raised and lowered along wall parts (front and rear wall parts) of the main body part 2 that are substantially in the longitudinal direction. At least upper end parts of the raising/lowering stays 11 are given a two-pronged shape so that the left and right hinge parts 4 can be simultaneously supported. In the illustrated embodiment, the raising/lowering stays 11 have the shape of a square (U-shaped) that is open on the upper side. The front and rear raising/lowering stays 11 are configured to be simultaneously raised and lowered via an electric raising/lowering driving mechanism 21.

As seen in FIGS. 4 to 9, the electric raising/lowering driving mechanism 21 basically includes a motor 22, a pair of longitudinal driving shafts 23, a pair of worm gear 24, a pair of worm wheels 25, a pair of transverse connecting shafts 26, four drive side timing pulleys 27 (two at each end), four driven side timing pulleys 28 (two at each end), a pair of transverse driven shafts 29 and four timing belts 30 (two at each end). The motor 22 is illustrated as an electric motor. However, other driving devices can be used instead of the motor 22. The longitudinal driving shafts 23 extend from the motor 22 in the longitudinal direction of the vehicle. The worm gears 24 are attached to front and rear end parts of the longitudinal driving shafts 23, respectively. The worm wheels 25 engage a corresponding one of the worm gears 24 to convert the rotation direction. The transverse connecting shafts 26 extend in the width direction of the vehicle. A center part of each of the transverse connecting shafts 26 has one of the worm wheels 25 fixedly attached thereto. The driving side timing pulleys 27 are fixedly attached at both end parts of the transverse connecting shafts 26. The driven side timing pulleys 28 disposed above the drive-side timing pulleys 27. The transverse driven shafts 29 connect the left and right driven side timing pulleys 28. The timing belts 30 extend between the drive side timing pulleys 27 and the driven side timing pulleys 28 so as to form upper and lower pairs, as shown in FIG. 4.

As seen in FIG. 5, the raising/lowering stays 11 have lower parts (anchoring positions 31) that are anchored to the timing belts 30. The motor 22, the longitudinal driving shaft 23, the worm gear 24, the worm wheels 25, the transverse connecting shafts 26 and the drive side timing pulleys 27 are disposed below a bottom wall of the main body part 2. The drive side timing pulleys 27, the driven side timing pulleys 28, the transverse driven shafts 29 and the timing belts 30 are disposed between the raising/lowering stays 11 and the front and rear walls of the main body part 2. The longitudinal driving shaft 23, the transverse connecting shafts 26 and the transverse driven shafts 29 are supported by a support shaft part or the like that protrudes from the main body part 2. The drive side timing pulleys 27, the driven side timing pulleys 28 and the timing belts 30 can be conventional pulleys and belts.

As seen in FIGS. 10 to 12, the console box or storage device 1 is also configured to be able to double as an armrest 35. In other words, the left and right lid parts 15 of the lid 5 are covered by a cushion or covering, whereby an arm of a vehicle occupant can comfortably be held. An operation switch 36 for operating the electric raising/lowering driving mechanism 21 is provided at a position where an index finger or the like is positioned when an arm is placed on the armrest 35.

An operation of the illustrated embodiment shall next be described.

The lid 5 is rotated about the hinge parts 4, whereby the access opening 3 provided to the upper part of the main body part 2 is opened and closed. Therefore, an article can be stored in or removed from the console box or storage device 1. In such instances, the hinge parts 4 are lifted by the raising/lowering stays 11, whereby the left and right lid parts 15 of the lid 5 are moved laterally by their own weight toward the hinge parts 4 so that the ends 15b on the side opposite the hinge parts 4 travel substantially along the edge parts 16 of the access opening 3. The lid 5 is opened downward from a substantially horizontal state to a substantially vertical state, as shown in FIGS. 1 to 3.

Conversely, as shown sequentially in FIGS. 3 to 1, the hinge parts 4 are lowered by the raising/lowering stays 11, such that the lid 5 is moved laterally toward the side opposite the hinge parts 4 so that the ends 15b on the sides opposite the hinge parts 4 travel substantially along the edge parts 16 of the access opening 3. Thus, the lid 5 moves from the substantially vertical state to the substantially horizontal state to cover the access opening 3. In other words, during opening and closing, the ends 15b of the lid 5 on the sides opposite the hinge parts 4 can be prevented from moving too much in the vertical direction. In the illustrated embodiment, the lid 5 is divided into the left and right lid parts 15 at the center part in the width direction of the vehicle and opens as two bodies. Therefore, the access opening 3 opens first from the center part, and the center part is the last part to close.

As seen in FIGS. 4 to 9, the electric raising/lowering driving mechanism 21 is preferably provided for automatically opening and closing the lid 5. In other words, when the operation switch 36 is pressed, the motor 22 or other driving device is driven. The driving force of the motor 22 is then transmitted to the drive side timing pulleys 27 via the longitudinal driving shaft 23, the worm gear 24, the worm wheels 25 and the transverse connecting shafts 26. This driving force is then transmitted from the drive side timing pulleys 27 to the timing belts 30, which are rotated. The raising/lowering stays 11 are simultaneously raised and lowered by the rotational movement of the timing belts 30. The front and rear timing belts 30 rotate in mutually opposite directions.

Thus, according to the illustrated embodiment, the hinge parts 4 are attached to the raising/lowering stays 11 that are selectively raised and lowered with respect to the main body part 2. Thus, in the illustrated embodiment, a configuration has been adopted in which the ends 15b on the sides opposite the hinge parts 4 move laterally toward the hinge parts 4 substantially along the edge parts 16 of the access opening 3, such that the lid 5 closes downward in conjunction with the raising of the hinge parts 4. The inside end parts (i.e., the ends 15b) of the lid parts 15 are thereby not lifted upward when the main body part 2 is opened. Therefore, an article on the lid 5 will not be lifted upward, and the access opening 3 can be opened even if the article on the lid 5 is not removed. Also the lid parts 15 do not protrude into the storage area of the storage device 1 so as not to interfere with contents within the storage area of the storage device 1.

In addition, the lid 5 is divided into the left and right lid parts 15; the hinge parts 4 are provided to the outside end parts of the lid parts 15; and the lid parts 15 are configured so that the inside end parts move laterally toward the outside part substantially along the edge parts 16 of the access opening 3, whereby the access opening 3 is opened from the center part in conjunction with the raising of the outside end parts. Accordingly, the access opening 3 can be opened even while an article is placed on a portion between the left and right lid parts 15.

In particular, when the storage device 1 doubles as the armrest 35, the lid 5 can be opened even when an arm is resting on the lid 5, as shown in FIGS. 10 to 12. Therefore, no inconvenience is presented. Once the lid 5 has been opened, an article can easily be retrieved by merely moving the arm slightly rearward and inserting a hand into the access opening 3. Conversely, the access opening 3 is closed in the operation sequentially shown in FIGS. 12 to 10. Therefore, the lid 5 can be closed without the arm being pinched, even in a state in which the arm has been placed on the access opening 3. There is no need to wait until the lid 5 is completely closed to place the arm down.

Also the operation switch 36 is provided at a position that the index finger or the like can reach. Therefore, convenient operation can be accomplished when the arm is placed on the armrest 35.

GENERAL INTERPRETATION OF TERMS

In understanding the scope of the present invention, the term “comprising” and its derivatives, as used herein, are intended to be open ended terms that specify the presence of the stated features, elements, components, groups, integers, and/or steps, but do not exclude the presence of other unstated features, elements, components, groups, integers and/or steps. The foregoing also applies to words having similar meanings such as the terms, “including”, “having” and their derivatives. Also, the terms “part,” “section,” “portion,” “member” or “element” when used in the singular can have the dual meaning of a single part or a plurality of parts. Also as used herein to describe the above embodiment(s), the following directional terms “forward, rearward, above, downward, upward, vertical, horizontal, below and transverse” as well as any other similar directional terms refer to those directions of a vehicle equipped with the storage device of present invention. Accordingly, these terms, as utilized to describe the present invention should be interpreted relative to a vehicle equipped with the present invention.

While only selected embodiments have been chosen to illustrate the present invention, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that various changes and modifications can be made herein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. For example, the size, shape, location or orientation of the various components can be changed as needed and/or desired. Components that are shown directly connected or contacting each other can have intermediate structures disposed between them. The functions of one element can be performed by two, and vice versa. The structures and functions of one embodiment can be adopted in another embodiment. It is not necessary for all advantages to be present in a particular embodiment at the same time. Every feature which is unique from the prior art, alone or in combination with other features, also should be considered a separate description of further inventions by the applicant, including the structural and/or functional concepts embodied by such feature(s). Thus, the foregoing descriptions of the embodiments according to the present invention are provided for illustration only, and not for the purpose of limiting the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims

1. A storage device comprising:

a main body part at least partly defining an access opening;
a lid including a first lid part movably coupled relative to the main body part between a closed position to cover the access opening and an opened position to expose the access opening; and
a lid opening/closing mechanism operatively coupled to the first lid part to move the first lid part between the closed position and the opened position,
the first lid part being hingedly coupled to the lid opening/closing mechanism near a first end of the first lid part so that a second end of the first lid part that is on a side opposite of the first end of the first lid part moves laterally toward the first end of the first lid part while the first end of the first lid part moves upwardly away from the access opening during opening operation of the lid opening/closing mechanism.

2. The storage device according to claim 1, wherein

the lid further including a second lid part hingedly attached to the coupled to the raising/lowering part near a first end of the second lid part so that a second end of the second lid part that is on a side opposite of the first end of the second lid part moves laterally toward the first end of the second lid part while the first end of the second lid part moves upwardly away from the access opening during the opening operation of the lid opening/closing mechanism.

3. The storage device according to claim 2, wherein

the first ends of the first and second lid parts are located on opposite outside ends of the main body part and the second ends of the first and second lid parts are located towards a central area of the main body part so that the access opening is first exposed at the central area of the main body part during opening of the lid by raising the first ends of the first and second lid parts.

4. The storage device according to claim 3, wherein

the second ends of the first and second lid parts move along an edge part of the defining the access opening during the opening of the lid by raising the first ends of the first and second lid parts.

5. The storage device according to claim 2, wherein

the lid opening/closing mechanism including a raising/lowering part movable with respect to the main body part, and
the first ends of the first and second lid parts are hingedly coupled to the raising/lowering part such that the first ends of the first and second lid parts move simultaneously during movement of the raising/lowering part.

6. The storage device according to claim 5, wherein

the first ends of the first and second lid parts are located on opposite outside ends of the main body part and the second ends of the first and second lid parts are located towards a central area of the main body part so that the access opening is first exposed at the central area of the main body part during opening of the lid by raising the first ends of the first and second lid parts.

7. The storage device according to claim 6, wherein

the second ends of the first and second lid parts move along an edge part of the defining the access opening during the opening of the lid by raising the first ends of the first and second lid parts.

8. The storage device according to claim 1, wherein

the second end of the first lid part moves along an edge part of the defining the access opening during opening of the lid by raising the first end of the first lid part.

9. The storage device according to claim 1, wherein

the lid opening/closing mechanism is motorized to open and close the lid.

10. A storage device comprising:

means for defining a storage area with an access opening;
lid means for selectively covering the access opening in a closed position and exposing the access opening in an opened position to; and
lid opening/closing means for moving the lid means between the closed position and the opened position such that a first end of the lid means moves laterally across the access opening while a second end of the lid means simultaneously moves upwardly away from the storage area during opening operation of the lid opening/closing means.
Patent History
Publication number: 20080035657
Type: Application
Filed: Jul 24, 2007
Publication Date: Feb 14, 2008
Applicant: CALSONIC KANSEI CORPORATION (Tokyo)
Inventor: Kenichiro YAMASHITA (Koga-shi)
Application Number: 11/782,069
Classifications
Current U.S. Class: Plural Pivotable Closure Sections (220/826); Accessible From Within Passenger Compartment (296/37.8)
International Classification: B65D 51/04 (20060101);