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VARIABLE STIFFNESS KNEE BOLSTER

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000011544D
Publication Date: 2003-Feb-28
Document File: 6 page(s) / 67K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

A knee bolster with a variable or adjustable stiffness that may be varied is disclosed. The knee bolster may be a “bladder” type knee bolster that allows for its stiffness to be adjusted during design, development and/or operation of the vehicle.

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VARIABLE STIFFNESS KNEE BOLSTER Abstract

         A knee bolster with a variable or adjustable stiffness that may be varied is disclosed. The knee bolster may be a "bladder" type knee bolster that allows for its stiffness to be adjusted during design, development and/or operation of the vehicle.

Background

         It is generally known to provide for knee bolsters in vehicles. Knee bolsters are typically located below the glove box door (for a passenger) or below the instrument display (for the driver). Such known knee bolsters include steel brackets and foam that are configured (e.g., "tuned") to give a "response" specific to a vehicle. However, adjustment of the stiffness of known knee bolsters may be necessary late in the design process, which may cause design timing issues (e.g., altering or adjusting material structures and properties) due to tooling changes. If a knee bolster can be tuned without tooling changes, the design process or program could react quicker. Also, there are many types (e.g., sizes, shapes, etc.) of occupants that can sit in the passenger or driver seats. A knee bolster system that could be adjusted for the individual would be advantageous.

Brief Description of the Drawings

         Figure 1 is a perspective view of an instrument panel for an automobile showing typical locations for knee bolsters.

Figure 2 is a schematic illustration of a power regulator setting of a fixed stiffness

knee bolster.

1

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         Figure 3 is a schematic illustration showing the occupant sensor determing the size of the occupant and adjusting the knee bolster to optimize it's performance for the individual.

         Figure 4 is a schematic illustration showing the load cell monitoring the load buildup and optimizing the knee bolster performance for an impact event.

         Figure 5 is a schematic illustration showing two potential responses of the knee bolster system shown in Figure 4.

Description

         A primary feature of the present invention is to provide a variable stiffness knee bolster that overcomes the above-noted disadvantages.

         Another feature of the present invention is to provide a knee bolster that is reconfigurable during the design process (e.g., due to vehicle design changes, etc.).

         Another feature of the present invention is to provide a knee bolster that adjusts itself based on the vehicle occupant seated in front of it.

         Referring to Figure 1, a knee bolster is generally located below the glove box door or below the instrument panel display (i.e., in front of the knees of the vehicle occupants). The knee bolster is configured to provide stiffness that may be varied (e.g., selectively adjusted, altered, etc.). According to a preferred embodiment, the knee bolster is a bladder-type bolster. Accord...