Reinventing Vehicle Structures

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The Future of Vehicle Architectures (Inventions by Adrian Chernoff)

Structures are the structural bones and architecture of the automobile: they hold the vehicle together while simultaneously offering access, entry, and egress. In reinventing the automobile, structures become a significant player. Here are several of Adrian’s many inventions that build on advancements in manufacturing processes and technologies to enable and create new structural elements that improve structural worthiness and modular assembly, increase design flexibility and vehicle branding vocabulary, and reduce vehicle weight.


It is important to note that many of these creative breakthroughs came from looking at design as a technology enabler. New solutions arrive when mental perspectives of observation are changed! From vehicle access to body structures, the Reinvention of the Automobile patents cover a wide range of closures and assembly and manufacturing processes including super plastic forming or QPF. The construction methods covered by these patents also streamline the design, build, assembly, and repair of advanced automotive systems. The following includes innovations in easy-to-access door systems, modular doors, integrated assemblies, structural reinforced panels, smart folding structures, consolidated metal body panels, and unified vehicle panels.



7,097,229   Vehicle Closure System


  1. A vehicle includes a body and a door closure system. The closure system includes a first door pivotably connected with respect to the vehicle body for selective movement between open and closed positions. A second door is movably connected with respect to the vehicle body. In a first configuration, the first door is in the closed position such that the first door obstructs a first portion of a body opening and the second door is in a first position such that the second door obstructs a second portion of the body opening. In a second configuration, the first door is in the closed position and the second door is in a second position such that at least a portion of the second door inner surface opposes the first door outer surface.






6,805,397   Vehicle Door


  1. A vehicle door includes various features that enable a thin door profile not achievable with the prior art. The vehicle door includes an inner panel, an outer panel, and a reinforcement member between the inner panel and the outer panel. Door hardware, including at least a window regulator, is connected to the reinforcement member such that the door hardware is outboard of a window, thereby enabling the inner panel to be positioned in close proximity to the window.




7,140,672    Integrated Front Assembly


  1. Front structure for a vehicle includes a unitary panel formed to define a vehicle cowl and a vehicle bulkhead. The vehicle cowl may form an air intake plenum. The unitary panel is configured to at least partially define a front compartment of the vehicle. An alternative unitary panel is formed to define a hood having inner and outer panel portions and, optionally, fenders. Another alternative unitary panel is formed to define a cowl, a bulkhead and a hood. The preferable method for forming the panels is quick plastic forming, superplastic forming or sheet hydroforming.




7,040,688    Vehicle Door


  1. A vehicle door includes an inner panel having strengthening corrugations to function as an impact beam, thereby negating the need for a separate impact beam. The inner panel is preferably characterized by a generally concave shape to increase vehicle interior space compared to prior art doors. A forming technique employing fluid pressure is preferably employed to form the inner panel.




7,032,958 - Body and Frame Assembly for a Vehicle and Method of Assembling a Vehicle


  1. A body and frame assembly for a vehicle includes a one-piece inner member mated with a one-piece outer member, the inner member and the outer member defining door openings at opposing sides of the vehicle. The inner member and the outer member may each include a roof panel portion and two side frame portions. A method of assembling a vehicle that includes the body and frame assembly includes forming each of the inner and outer members by quick plastic forming, super plastic forming or hydroforming. Preferably, the inner member and the outer member are each formed from a separate single sheet of aluminum.






6,886,885    Rear and Side Panel Assembly for a Vehicle and a Method of Assembling


  1. A rear and side panel assembly for a vehicle body may include a one-piece inner body panel member mated with a one-piece outer body panel member, the body panels cooperating to at least partially define wheel well openings at opposing sides of the vehicle. The inner body panel member may include an inner rear panel portion with opposite ends, a first inner side panel portion at one end and a second inner side panel portion at the opposed end, with the inner side panel portions extending generally frontward from the inner rear panel portion. The outer body panel member may include an outer rear panel portion with opposite ends, a first outer side panel portion at one end and a second outer side panel portion at the opposed end, with the outer side panel portions extending generally frontward from the outer rear panel portion. A method of assembling a vehicle including the rear and side panel assembly described above may include forming the inner body panel member and forming the outer body panel member by quick plastic forming, super plastic forming or hydroforming. The method may further include bending the inner and outer body panel members, and mounting the inner and outer body panels to each other such that the outer body panel member substantially covers the outer face of the inner body panel member.













7,111,900    Vehicle Floor Having a Unitary Inner Panel and Outer Panel


  1. A vehicle floor includes a unitary, one-piece panel. The panel is formed with an integral channel for routing a vehicle distribution system conduit there within. The panel may include an inner panel portion, an outer panel portion, integral rocker panel portions, front, rear and trunk floor portions. A method is provided for manufacturing a vehicle floor, the method including forming such a panel.



6,843,336    Vehicle Belly Pan


  1. A vehicle chassis having substantially all of the mechanical, electrical, and structural componentry necessary for a fully functional vehicle includes at least an energy conversion system, a steering system, and a braking system. The chassis is configured for matability with a variety of different types or styles of vehicle bodies. Various prior art mechanical control linkages between a driver and controlled systems are replaced with non-mechanical control signal transmission components. Fuel cell technology is also implemented. A quick plastic formed (QPF) rigid sheet (belly pan) includes cavities formed therein to facilitate attachment of various components of the energy conversion system, energy storage system, braking system, steering system, etc.






7,310,878    Automotive Lower Body Component Method of Manufacture


  1. A vehicle development process is characterized by enhanced market responsiveness by decoupling the development of the chassis from the development of vehicle bodies. The chassis and bodies are provided with a common, standardized interface system so that a single chassis design or a family of chassis designs may receive any of a variety of different body types thereon. Accordingly, the chassis are designed to enable the bodies to be designed and produced independently. The bodies are designed and manufactured all over the world to meet different consumer desires. Designers are able to redesign vehicle bodies without re-engineering the entire vehicle. The freedom to design, develop and distribute vehicle bodies more quickly with greater design freedom enables the manufacturer to be more responsive to local, regional and global market needs.






 

Reinventing Vehicle STRUCTURES: Patents

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