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Title:
FORCE AND VIBRATION DETECTION AND MONITORING SYSTEM FOR WATERCRAFT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/113327
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A system, including one or more motion sensors, a microprocessor and one or more displays, for monitoring and displaying (in real time), forces experienced by a vessel and the crew, including peak and cumulative forces, and Whole Body Vibration (WBV) Limits, to enable the vessel operator to adjust the vessel operation to avoid unnecessary vessel wear, to reduce harmful effects on health and safety, and to reduce degradation of crew operational effectiveness.

Inventors:
SILKOWSKI JOSEPH FRANCIS (US)
HOFLICH JONATHAN ROWE (US)
Application Number:
CA2019/051736
Publication Date:
June 11, 2020
Filing Date:
December 03, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SMITH DAVID A (CA)
SILKOWSKI JOSEPH FRANCIS (US)
HOFLICH JONATHAN ROWE (US)
International Classes:
G01P15/00; B63B17/00; G01H17/00; G01V7/16
Foreign References:
US4622548A1986-11-11
US20170358151A12017-12-14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COOPER, Michael D. et al. (CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A system for real-time monitoring of g-force and vibration in the operation of high-speed watercraft with at least one shock-absorbing seat, being a suspended seat supported relative to the hull of the watercraft by a shock-absorbing assembly, the system comprising:

a seat motion sensor affixed to the suspended seat and configured to produce seat motion data;

a display;

a programmable microprocessor;

means for interconnecting the seat motion sensor, microprocessor and the display; the microprocessor configured to process seat motion data received from the seat motion sensor, and transmit to the display force and vibration information;

wherein, in use, the display provides a real-time indication of the g-force and vibration experienced by the suspended seat.

2. The system of claim 1 , wherein the seat motion sensor comprises:

a seat accelerometer; and

means for measuring relative motion between the suspended seat and the hull of the watercraft,

wherein the seat motion data comprises seat acceleration data and seat relative motion data.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the means for measuring relative motion comprises an optical distance measuring sensor.

4. The system of claim 1 , wherein:

the display comprises a screen; and

the real-time indication of the g-force and vibration comprises a dynamic graphic on the screen indicating current g-force in terms of g-force ranges, being moderate, caution and warning ranges.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein the dynamic graphic is a colour-coded scale with each g-force range indicated by a distinct colour.

6. The system of claim 4, wherein:

the moderate g-force range is Og to < 4 g; the caution g-force range is 4g to < 6g; and

the warning g-force range is 6g and greater.

7. The system of claim 4, wherein the real-time indication of the g-force and vibration further comprises an indication of cumulative impacts for a session.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein the indication of cumulative impacts are calculated based on the standard Whole Body Vibration (WBV) equations.

9. The system of claim 4 wherein the indication of cumulative impacts comprises a graphic on the screen indicating cumulative impact in terms of g-force ranges, being moderate, caution and warning ranges.

10. The system of claim 4, wherein the screen indicates mean g-force and maximum g-force for a session.

1 1 . The system of claim 1 , wherein the means for interconnecting comprises one or both of wireless connectivity and wired connectivity.

12. The system of claim 1 , further comprising at least one vessel component accelerometer attached to the watercraft in a position that in use does not move relative to the hull, configured to produce vessel acceleration data; and

means for interconnecting the at least one vessel component accelerometer to the microprocessor,

wherein, in use, the display provides a real-time indication of the g-force and vibration experienced by the vessel accelerometer.

13. The system of claim 1 , wherein the system:

comprises a plurality of seat motion sensors;

further comprises at least one vessel accelerometer attached to the watercraft in a position that in use does not move relative to the hull, configured to produce vessel acceleration data; and

means for interconnecting the plurality of seat motion sensors and the at least one vessel component accelerometer to the microprocessor,

wherein, in use, the display provides a real-time indication of the g-force and vibration experienced by the seat motion sensors and the at least one vessel accelerometer.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the display comprises a plurality of screens being a screen for each of the seat motion sensors and the at least one vessel accelerometer, and the indications of the experienced g-force and vibration comprise a dynamic graphic on each screen.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the plurality of screens are visible concurrently.

16. The system of claim 1 , further comprising a user controllable discomfort indicator associated with the seat motion sensor and interconnected to the microprocessor wherein a user triggered discomfort indication causes the display to provide a discomfort notification associated with the seat motion sensor.

17. The system of claim 1 , wherein the display comprises one or more of visual, audible and vibrational signals.

Description:
FORCE AND VIBRATION DETECTION AND MONITORING SYSTEM FOR WATERCRAFT

Cross Reference to Related Applications

[0001] This application claims the benefit of US Provisional App. No. 62/774,327, filed 3 December 2018.

Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to the field of high-speed watercraft, and more specifically to the health, safety and operational effectiveness of users of high-speed watercraft.

Background of the Invention

[0003] High-speed small boats are used in a variety of applications and are particularly useful in military operations, and search and rescue operations. When fast-moving small watercraft encounter even moderately disturbed water, the passengers are subjected to significant forces. At high-speed, in waves of any appreciable size, small watercraft tend to be subjected to rapid and simultaneous vertical and horizontal acceleration and deceleration.

[0004] When a boat moving at high speed impacts the crest of a wave, the boat tends to simultaneously pitch upwards and decelerate, and when it passes over orthrough the crest and encounters the trough, the boat tends to pitch downwards and accelerate. At high speed, each pitching and acceleration/deceleration cycle may be measured in seconds, such that passengers are subjected to rapid and extreme acceleration and deceleration and the associated shock, which is commonly quantified in terms of multiples of g, a“g” being a unit of acceleration equivalent to that exerted by the earth’s gravitational field at the surface of the earth. The term g-force is also often used, but it is commonly understood to mean a relatively long-term acceleration. A short-term acceleration is usually called a shock and is also quantified in terms of g. In this specification and the claims, g and g-force are used to refer to relative acceleration, i.e., relative to the ambient gravitational acceleration imparted by the earth’s gravitational field. Thus, in this specification and the claims, 0 g means no detectable g or g- force relative to ambient gravity.

[0005] Human tolerances for shock and g-force depend on the magnitude of the acceleration, the length of time it is applied, the direction in which it acts, the location of application, and the posture of the body. When vibration is experienced, relatively low peak g levels can be damaging if they are at the resonance frequency of organs and connective tissues. In highspeed watercraft, with the passengers sitting in a conventional generally upright position, which is typically required, particularly with respect to the helmsperson and any others charged with watchkeeping, upward acceleration of the watercraft is experienced as a compressive force to an individual’s spine and rapid deceleration tends to throw an individual forward. Further, even low-level vibration, shock and g-force insufficient to cause immediately detectable health effects, may, if sustained, produce fatigue and reduced operational effectiveness.

[0006] Shock-absorbing systems for high-speed boats are known, for example, US Patent No. 6,786, 172 (Loffler - Shock absorbing boat) and US patent No., 9,422,038 (Smith et al., Suspended marine platform). The shock-absorbing systems generally involve a passenger module or individual seat, suspended relative to the vessel hull via a shock-absorbing assembly that mitigates and attenuates the accelerative forces experienced by the vessel hull.

[0007] Such shock-absorbing systems have been found to be sufficiently effective that highspeed watercraft may now be driven harder (at higher speed in rougher water conditions) than previously, without causing immediately detectable health effects to the crew. In the result, it is generally believed that the limiting factor for sustained hard driving of such high-speed watercraft with effective shock-absorbing systems, is the vessel structural integrity rather than crew health and safety.

[0008] Use of motion detectors (e.g., accelerometers) in various craft (e.g., automobiles, aircraft and boats) is common. For example, US 9,217,752, Helenelund, et al., 22 December 2015, Method and system for measuring motions, discloses a method and system for measuring motions of a moving boat by combining the output from two motion detectors that are installed near the ends of the boat, or at least far enough away from each other, that the accelarative effects (e.g., yawing) on the boat as a whole may be calculated from the two readings, for the purposes of optimizing vessel steering and handling, and for navigation.

Summary of the Invention

[0009] In one aspect, the present invention provides a system for monitoring, processing and displaying (in real time), forces experienced by a vessel and the crew, including peak and cumulative forces, and Whole Body Vibration (WBV) Limits, to enable the vessel operator to adjust the vessel operation to avoid unnecessary vessel wear, to reduce harmful effects on health and safety, and to reduce degradation of crew operational effectiveness.

[0010] In another aspect, the present invention provides a system for real-time monitoring of g-force and vibration in the operation of high-speed watercraft with at least one shock absorbing seat, being a suspended seat supported relative to the hull of the watercraft by a shock-absorbing assembly, the system including: a seat motion sensor affixed to the suspended seat and configured to produce seat motion data; a display; a programmable microprocessor; means for interconnecting the seat motion sensor, microprocessor and the display; the microprocessor configured to process seat motion data received from the seat motion sensor, and transmit to the display force and vibration information; wherein, in use, the display provides a real-time indication of the g-force and vibration experienced by the suspended seat.

[0011] The seat motion sensor may include: a seat accelerometer; and means for measuring relative motion between the suspended seat and the hull of the watercraft, wherein the seat motion data may include seat acceleration data and seat relative motion data. The means for measuring relative motion may include an optical distance measuring sensor.

[0012] The display may include a screen; and the real-time indication of the g-force and vibration may include a dynamic graphic on the screen indicating current g-force in terms of g- force ranges, being moderate, caution and warning ranges. The dynamic graphic may be a colour-coded scale with each g-force range indicated by a distinct colour. The moderate g- force range may be Og to < 4 g; the caution g-force range may be 4g to < 6g; and the warning g-force range may be 6g and greater.

[0013] The real-time indication of the g-force and vibration may include an indication of cumulative impacts for a session. The indication of cumulative impacts may be calculated based on the standard Whole Body Vibration (WBV) equations. The indication of cumulative impacts may include a graphic on the screen indicating cumulative impact in terms of g-force ranges, being moderate, caution and warning ranges.

[0014] The screen may indicate mean g-force and maximum g-force for a session.

[0015] The means for interconnecting may include one or both of wireless connectivity and wired connectivity. [0016] The system may include at least one vessel component accelerometer attached to the watercraft in a position that in use does not move relative to the hull, configured to produce vessel acceleration data; and means for interconnecting the at least one vessel component accelerometer to the microprocessor, wherein, in use, the display may provide a real-time indication of the g-force and vibration experienced by the vessel accelerometer.

[0017] The system may include a plurality of seat motion sensors; and may also include at least one vessel accelerometer attached to the watercraft in a position that in use does not move relative to the hull, configured to produce vessel acceleration data; and means for interconnecting the plurality of seat motion sensors and the at least one vessel component accelerometer to the microprocessor, wherein, in use, the display may provide a real-time indication of the g-force and vibration experienced by the seat motion sensors and the at least one vessel accelerometer.

[0018] The display may include a plurality of screens being a screen for each of the seat motion sensors and the at least one vessel accelerometer, and the indications of the experienced g-force and vibration may include a dynamic graphic on each screen. The plurality of screens may be visible concurrently.

[0019] The system may include a user controllable discomfort indicator associated with the seat motion sensor and interconnected to the microprocessor wherein a user triggered discomfort indication causes the display to provide a discomfort notification associated with the seat motion sensor.

[0020] The display may include one or more of visual, audible and vibrational signals.

Summary of the Drawings

[0021] Figure 1 is partially transparent perspective view of a high-speed watercraft with a force monitoring system embodiment of the present invention.

[0022] Figure 2 is a schematic representation of a six-sensor force monitoring system embodiment of the present invention.

[0023] Figure 3 is a representation of a user interface and six-sensor display of a force monitoring system embodiment of the present invention.

[0024] Figure 4 is a representation of a user interface and single-screen display of a force monitoring system embodiment of the present invention.

Detailed Description with Reference to the Drawings

[0025] As shown in the drawings, embodiments of the present invention may be used with highspeed watercraft 100. Figure 1 illustrates an exemplary high-speed watercraft 100 having among other features, a helm console 102, with steering wheel 104 (and other operational, e.g. , motor, controls, not indicated), a shock-absorbing helm position 106 (comprising a seat base 108 affixed to the high-speed watercraft 100, a suspended seat 1 10, and a shock-absorbing assembly 1 12 interposed between the seat base 108 and the suspended seat 1 10), a bow compartment 114, and a stern/motor compartment 1 16.

[0026] Figure 1 illustrates a three-sensor force monitor system 120 embodiment of the present invention installed on the high-speed watercraft 100. The three-sensor force monitor system 120 comprises: a bow accelerometer 122 installed within the bow compartment 1 14, a seat sensor 124 attached to the suspended seat 1 10, a stern accelerometer 126 installed within the stern/motor compartment 1 16, and a force monitoring display 128 mounted to the helm console 102. To be clear, in Figure 1 , the portions of the bow compartment 1 14, seat base 108 and stern/motor compartment 1 16 adjacent the bow accelerometer 122, seat sensor 124 and stern accelerometer 126, are shown as transparent for the purpose of facilitating the indication of the bow accelerometer 122, seat sensor 124 and stern accelerometer 126.

[0027] Figure 2 is a schematic representation of a six-sensor force monitoring system 140 embodiment of the present invention comprising a six-station display 142, a bow accelerometer 122, a transom accelerometer 144, a crew 1 seat sensor 146, a crew 2 seat sensor 148, a gunner seat sensor 150 and an engine accelerometer 152.

[0028] Each seat sensor 124, 146, 148, 150 comprises a seat accelerometer 160 paired with an optical distance measuring sensor 162 (e.g., the Seedstudio Grove™ - TF Mini LiDAR) to sense changes in the distance between the seat sensor 124 and the vessel deck (or a suitable adjacent feature in a fixed position relative to the vessel hull). Each seat sensor 124, 146, 148, 150 is typically rigidly mounted to the underside of the associated seat (e.g., to the seat pan). To be clear, the seat sensors 124, 146, 148, 15 should not be mounted to seat foam or cushion material, as the resilient flexibility of same will generate“noise” in the sensed data.

[0029] The accelerometers (122, 126, 144, 152, 160) are preferably 3-axis (C,U,Z) accelerometers with a recording range of +/- 16g’s with a recording rate of 1 Hz ~1 kHz, contained within an IP67 rated enclosure. The QG65N-KAXYZ-8,0-CANS-CFM-2D available from DIS Sensors™, is an example of a suitable accelerometer. The accelerometers are permanently or temporarily mounted to rigid surfaces in a conventional manner (e.g., with common fasteners or an adhesive, as appropriate) in relevant locations, e.g., in vicinity of the bow, stern, propulsion components and sensitive electronics, and to the seat pans.

[0030] The bow accelerometer 122, transom accelerometer 144, crew 1 seat sensor 146, crew 2 seat sensor 148, gunner seat sensor 150, and engine accelerometer 152 are connected to the six-station display 142 via a Controller Area Network bus or CANbus network 170 using standard CANbus junction boxes.

[0031] The six-station display 142 preferably includes output connectivity 172 (e.g., for ethernet output - WiFi 2G/3G) and input connectivity 174 (ethernet, video etc.). Power for the six-sensor force monitoring system 140 is provided via a power connection 176 in the CANbus network 170.

[0032] A suitable display for the six-station display 142 is the VeeThree™ T5, which features a capacitive touch-customizable color screen, being a WVGA (800 x 480) PCAP LCD color display that can be viewed in full sunlight and is ruggedized to meet IP 67 standards for marine applications. The VeeThree™ T5 is capable of receiving Controller Area Network (CAN bus) communication protocol, ethernet, and video feeds and input. The display ethernet port can be connected to either WiFi or 2G/3G modules to share information logged from the microcontroller to a cloud server, or it can be displayed on another screen at a different location.

[0033] The microcontroller may be a self-contained stand-alone unit or it may be integrated into the display or other accessory. The VeeThree™ T5 display has an adequate built-in microcontroller utilizing the Freescale i.MX 6 processor and dedicated graphics processor for high performance graphics and video capabilities.

[0034] The system may include multiple displays/repeaters. Displays/repeaters may be permanently or temporarily mounted in a variety of locations to best facilitate communication and situational awareness with various personnel on the vessel. Display locations include, but are not limited to, the operator console, navigator console, crew member console, viewable structure around any console, on or nearby seating, or any other area where a display may be easily viewed. A display may be fixed or handheld.“Display” may also constitute a computer application that may be used on a laptop, tablet, phone, or other device

[0035] The six-station display 142 is configured (via uploaded custom software) to receive multiple accelerometer and optical distance measuring sensor data via CANbus, wireless, or a combination of CANbus and wireless, and process the data into a real-time display, with a separate screen for each accelerometer/senser station, being, in the exemplary configuration illustrated in Figures 2 and 3, a bow screen 180, a transom screen 182, a crew 1 screen 184, a crew 2 screen 186, a gunner screen 188 and an engine screen 190. Wireless communications are available via encrypted or non-encrypted means. Wireless communication options include, but are not limited to, Bluetooth, Wifi, 3G, 4G, 5G, and Internet of Things (loT).

[0036] Figure 4 shows a single-station screen display 192 (which may be a display dedicated to a single set station or may be a display providing a feature (e.g., scrolling) to enable the user to selectively view multiple station screens, one at a time), providing a representation of an exemplary station screen (crew 2 screen 186), that for purposes of illustration is usefully enlarged as compared to the screens shown in Figure 3.

[0037] The display 142, 192 receives data from the accelerometers and sensors (at 1000 Hz in the preferred embodiment), and processes same, including, but not limited to: filtering using a 4 pole low pass Butterworth filter to remove high frequency accelerations understood to have no effect on human beings, and downsampling, preferably to 50 Hz.

[0038] Each screen associated with a position preferably indicates real time g-force in a color coded scale that is specific and customizable to the application. The preferred standard parameters are green (+/- Og-3.99 g), yellow (+/-4.00g-5.99g), and red (> +/- 6.00g). The center of the screen shows cumulative impacts which are recorded for the course of the power cycle of the system. The cumulative impacts are also recorded using the green/yellow/red parameters and are calculated based on the standard Whole Body Vibration (WBV) equations which is an indication of the operational readiness of crew members for various missions. [0039] Optionally, each screen associated with a position may indicate additional information, including but not limited to: the wired/wireless connection between sensors and micro controller, mean g force recorded during a session, accelerometer/sensor station, cumulative impacts, maximum g force record and data logger status. Simple readily comprehensible icons may also be included to indicate whether the accelerometer/sensor is associated with a person or vessel component.

[0040] Preferably, each seat has an associated discomfort indicator (e.g., IP67 user operated toggle switch or equivalent) interconnected with the system to enable the seat occupant to indicate discomfort during operation, and the associated screen has an alarm or warning indicator (e.g., icon and/or audible alarm) triggered by such a discomfort indication.

[0041] As indicated in Figure 4, in the embodiments shown in the drawings, the display 142, 192 provides real-time graphic and textual/numerical indications as follows:

Outer Bezel 200 - Real-time g-force color-coded based on acceptable (green), cautionary (yellow), and hazardous (red) acceleration forces (g-force (g)). Specific and customizable operational limits are adjusted in the software based on pre-defined user input. For example, baseline may be green (+/- 0g-3.99 g), yellow (+/-4.00g-5.99g), and red (> +/- 6.00g);

Mean Acute Accelerational Forces 202 - one of the small arrows outboard of the Outer Bezel 200;

Maximum Accelerational Force 204 - the other of the small arrows outboard of the Outer Bezel 200;

Inner Bezel 206 - cumulative accelerational forces over recording period. These are color-coded based on acceptable (green), cautionary (yellow), and hazardous (red) cumulative accelerational forces. The primary intent of cumulative recording and color-coded display is to provide a tool to predict or assess the operational status of the recorded crew members orthe exposure of the monitored hull locations or components. This information is useful when determining which personnel may undertake certain active evolutions in a military, government, or commercial environment where fatigue can negatively impact performance and safety. It is also useful when evaluating the stresses experienced by the hull or other components where certain elements may begin to fail or prematurely wear due to cumulative exposure to the forces;

Center Field 208: Numerical representation of real-time acute g-force

Link 210 - Wired or wireless, being the manner of interconnection between the accelerometer/sensor and the display 142, 192

Mean G-Force Field 212;

Station Field 214 - being the location of the associated accelerometer/sensor;

Cumulative Accelerational Impact Field 216: numerical/quantitative representation of the information graphically indicated at the Inner Bezel 206;

Maximum G-Force Sustained Field 218;

Data Logging Field 220 - indicating whether data logging is On/Off;

Encryption Level Field 222 - indicating the encryption level (256 bit encryption is the default but higher level encryption may be obtained if desired by the user);

Date and Time Field 224;

Alarm Icon 226 (triangle enclosing exclamation mark) - illuminated/highlighted if an alarm event occurs;

Warning Icon 228 (bell image) - illuminated/highlighted/sounded if a warning event occurs;

Seat Position Icon 230 (stylized head and torso) - illuminated/highlighted if the position associated with the screen is a seat or seating area; and

Equipment Icon 232 (boat image) - illuminated/highlighted if the position associated with the screen is not a seat or seating area, i.e., the position is intended to monitor the vessel generally or particular vessel equipment or components. [0042] Embodiments of the force monitoring system may be configured to provide reversible user selection between manual start, position based activation (meaning the system start and stop is determined by navigational position as obtained from an interconnected GPS), or other user-determined start conditions and control means.

[0043] The microcontroller may be configured to store data for an extended period (e.g. 2 years). For recording or saving additional data, a connection may be made to a secure remote server. This connection can be activated based on the GPS position of the vessel or triggered manually through user input. If data security is important, the information may be removed from the system via a USB drive or memory card without transmitting any information from the microcontroller.

[0044] The display function of the system may include audible, visual, illuminated, and/or vibration notifications (alarms) for which the user may set data parameters for any one or combination of the notifications as the user desires. The system may include a notification (alarm) override that can be activated to deactivate any single notification or specified combination of notifications (alarms) wherein the notification override may be optionally programmed to only allow certain specified users to deactivate a single or combination of notifications.

[0045] The system may be interconnected with other vessel components and equipment for enhanced safety. For example, exceeding a predetermined extreme accelerometer reading could be user selected to automatically trigger an emergency engine shutdown and exceeding the same or a user selected different predetermined extreme accelerometer reading could automatically activate an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB).

[0046] The scope of the claims should not be limited by the preferred embodiments set forth in the examples, but should be given the broadest interpretation consistent with the description as a whole.