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Title:
ROTARY SHIFTER WITH A DC MOTOR DRIVING LOCK MECHANISN
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/168569
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A shifter assembly having a housing supporting a detent locking wheel with a biasing return spring, A plunger housing subassembly is rotatably supported within the locking wheel and operating in response to an external input to be rotated between each of Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive gear shift positions. An electric motor is supported by the housing and is linked to a lock lever, an extending portion of the lock lever engaging the locking wheel. A PCB board is integrated into the housing and is communicable with at least one external sensor associated with a driver exit condition. Upon a triggering of the exit condition with the shifter in other than a Park position, the motor being energized to retract the lock lever to permit the return spring to rotate the wheel to the Park position.

Inventors:
WANG, Yong, Qiang (846 Quill Creek Drive, Troy, MI, 48085, US)
CURTIS, Christopher, Edward (1120 Paradise Trial, Oxford, MI, 48371, US)
HENGY, Scott (2369 Venezia Drive, Davison, MI, 48432, US)
Application Number:
US2018/056685
Publication Date:
September 06, 2019
Filing Date:
October 19, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KUSTER NORTH AMERICA, INC. (5555 New King Drive, Suite 350Troy, MI, 48098, US)
International Classes:
F16H63/34; F16H59/08; F16H61/22
Foreign References:
US20150369358A12015-12-24
US20150167827A12015-06-18
US20030029261A12003-02-13
US8264338B22012-09-11
EP3225884A12017-10-04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCEVOY, Douglas, J. et al. (Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, 900 Wilshire Drive Suite 30, Troy MI, 48084, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A shifter assembly, comprising:

a housing supporting a detent locking wheel,

a return spring biasing said detent locking wheel in a rotational direction relative to said housing;

a plunger housing rotatably supported within said detent locking wheel and operating in response to an external input to be rotated between each of Park, Reverse, Neutral and Dri ve gear shift positions;

an electric motor supported by said housing and communicating with a lock lever in proximity to said detent locking wheel, an extending portion of said lock lever engaging said detent locking wheel;

a PCB board integrated into said housing and communicable with at least one sensor associated with a driver exit condition; and

upon a triggering of said exit condition with said shifter in other than a Park position, said motor being energized to retract said lock lever to permit said return spring to rotate said wheel to the Park position.

2. The shifter assembly as described in claim 1, said plunger housing further comprising a location for engagement by said lock lever in a Park lock function in which said lock lever engages both said detent locking wheel and said plunger housing preventing shifting between gear positions.

3. The shifter assembly as described in claim 2, further comprising another location in said plunger housing defining a Neutral lock function in which said lock lever engages both said detent locking wheel and said plunger housing preventing shifting between gear positions.

4. The shifter assembly as described in claim 1, said electric motor further comprising a DC motor.

5. The shifter assembly as described in claim 1, further comprising a transfer gear for communicating a rotating output of said electric motor to said lock lever.

6. The shifter assembly as described in claim 5, said transfer gear further comprising a central interiorly threaded aperture, said lock lever further comprising an elongated member with worm gear threads extending along an intermediate range thereof which are meshingly engaged through said central aperture so that rotation of said transfer gear is translated linearly to said lock lever.

7. The shifter as described in claim 1, further comprising a bezel cover applied over an open interior of said housing.

8. The shifter as described in claim 1 , further comprising coaxially aligning contact locations associated with ramped underside perimeter portions upon said detent locking wheel surrounded by perimeter defined locations upon an underside of said housing, a first extending leg of said return spring slidably displacing along said ramped underside of said wheel, a second extending leg engaging a selected perimeter location of said housing.

9. The shifter as described in claim 1, further comprising said plunger housing having a pair of lower and opposite and radial projecting guiding portions, these being interiorly hollowed for receiving a pair of opposing steel balls and supporting detent springs.

10. The shifter as described in claim 8, further comprising at least one of a rotary knob or an elongated lever attached to said plunger housing, said radial projecting portions aligning with an inwardly facing detent profile associated with said detent locking wheel, said outwardly influenced steel balls supported within said open interior of said radial portions interacting in tactile induced fashion with said detent profile edges defined within said wheel surface to establish guided rotation of said knob.

11. The rotary shifter as described in claim 6, said lock lever further comprising a downward projection terminating in a magnet, said driver exit condition further occurring concurrent with rotation of said lock lever with arcuate travel of said magnet in proximity to said sensor in communication with said PCB board.

12. The shifter as described in claim 1, further comprising a plurality of light pipes arranged within said housing so that bottom open ends are in communication with individual LED’s integrated into said PCB board. 13 The rotary shifter as described in claim 11, said individual LED’s further comprising pairs of LED’s for providing each of backlighting and gear indication respectively for each shifter position.

14. The rotary shifter as described in claim 1, further comprising said motor displacing said lock lever between a first Park lock condition, a second partially retracted shifter adjustable condition and a third sensor instructed and fully retracted return to Park condition.

Description:
ROTARY SHIFTER WITH A DC MOTOR DRIVING LOCK MECHANISM

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims the priority of USSN 16/158,923 filed October 12, 2018, as well as USSN 15/910,158 filed March 2, 2018. The‘158 application claims the priority of USSN 62/527,372 filed June 30, 2017, as well as USSN 62/469,959 filed March 10, 2017.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention discloses each of rotary and lever style shifters which can shift between each of Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Sport positions (the latter providing higher RPM at lower speeds for such as performance driving conditions) As will be further described below, the present design incorporates a DC motor and gear set for actuating a lock lever between each of lock, unlock and return-to-Park functionality for establishing both controlled shifting between the PRND positions as well as automatic return to park functionality.

DESCRIPTION OF THE BACKGROUND ART

[0003] The prior art is documented with examples of sensor activated linkage for establishing a return to Park condition (both associated with rotary and linear shifter assemblies). Examples of these most notably include each of Swaita, USSN 2015/0143938, disclosing default-to-par, having output member, rotatable plate, latching mechanism and biasing member), Watanabe, USSN 2015/0152958 teaching a motor driven device with control circuit for moving a rotary detent member to park, and Ehrmaier, USPN 7,028,575 further disclosing a shift lever

ί with dual shifting channels such that manual deflection in either channel, following release, effectuates monostable return to park functionality.

[0004] Additional examples of motorized sifter assemblies include each of Fett, USPN 9,334,949, Ganter, USPN 9,239,108 and Rake, USPN 9,518,650 among others. Other gear selector devices also include each of Fuhroff, USSN 2009/0000413, Giefer, USPN 8,413,536 and Seki, USPN 8,359,943.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0005] The present invention discloses each of rotary and lever style shifters which can shift between each of Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Sport positions (the latter providing higher RPM at lower speeds for such as performance driving conditions) As will be further described below, the present design incorporates a DC motor and gear set for actuating a lock lever between each of lock, unlock and retum-to-Park functionality for establishing both controlled shifting between the PRND positions as well as automatic return to park functionality

[0006] Engagement between the DC motor and the lock lever gear occurs via a pivoting lock lever assembly, such mounted to the housing, which is slaved to the motor, a lock lever, magnet and gear sub-assembly and such that, the lock lever engages a selected aperture location of the detent locking wheel. A collection of biasing springs includes a torsional spring for biasing the detent locking wheel relative to the outer housing, and which is provided with a first extending spring leg locked to the package supporting housing and an opposite spring leg biasing a circumferential location of the ratchet wheel.

[0007] in a normal shifting operation, the torsional (or return) spring is loaded between the detent locking wheel and housing and will cause the affixed knob to be stopped by the housing at the Park and Drive positions, shifting effort being generated by a pair of steel balls biased by coil springs integrated into extending portions of the plunger housing subassembly and which are guided within inner perimeter extending detent surfaces in the outer fixed housing. This occurs concurrent with the adjustable torsional spring leg being continuously repositioned (pushed over) adjoining ratchet teeth formed within an underside surface of the detent locking wheel.

[0008] The lock lever sub-assembly, slaved to the DC motor, includes the projecting lock plunger normally engaged with the selected shifter (Park) position defined aperture in the detent locking wheel in a forward most advanced position order to lock the detent wheel. Upon actuating the DC motor, the lock lever is actuated to a middle position to unlock the plunger housing, which is then free to move out of the Park position. The lock lever is further actuated by the DC motor from the middle position to a rearward-most position, such as in response to a sensor triggering event, in order to release the detent lock wheel so that the torsional spring automatically resets it to the Park position. The gear reduction ratio of the lock lever gear further permits a sufficient actuation (insertion or retraction) force to be exerted on the lock lever during retraction or resetting thereof, and in order to overcome any pre-loading torque resulting between the detent locking wheel and lock lever (noting again that exerted by the torsional spring).

[0009] A PCB board and related sensor are arranged in communication with a magnet mounted to an underside of a magnet holder integrated into the plunger housing subassembly. Rotation of the knob between each of the gear positions results in an arcuate sweeping motion of the magnet relative to the sensor on the PCB and, upon the sensor detecting the position of the magnet, confirming resetting of the Park position. This is controlled by the relative rotation between the knob and the end stopper which occurs upon the energization of the DC motor to retract the lock lever from the detent locking wheel, at which point the torsional spring counter rotates the stopper to the Park position.

[0010] The Park lock function further describes standard BTSI (brake transmission system interlock) functionality, which mechanically locks the shifter knob in the Park position unless the driver presses the brake pedal before shifting to any of the R, N and D positions. The BTSI aspect is integrated into the PCB to DC motor and lock lever gear communication protocol of the design, additionally and apart from its return to park features.

[0011] A plurality of extraneous vehicle sensors are arranged throughout the vehicle in communication with the DC motor for determining a Park reset triggering condition, such determined to occur by the driver unlatching the seatbelt, exiting the vehicle by opening the door, etc., with the vehicle in gear. Once one of these conditions has been met, the given sensor instructs the DC motor to activate the motor gear in order to linearly retract the lock lever, via the opposing threads established between the threaded interior aperture of the lock lever gear and the exterior mating threads of the middle portion of the elongated lock lever which extends through the gear, resulting in disengagement of the tip of the lock lever from the outer toothed location of the detent locking wheel in an energized/released condition.

[0012] Once the new Park position is established, and as confirmed by the proximity condition established between the magnet and holder via the PCB mounted sensor (such as which is understood further to be any suitable type of inductive or magnetic Hail effect sensor), the DC motor is once again de-energized in order to counter-rotate the lock lever gear, and consequently advance the lock lever for re-engaging with the Park position defined aperture in the detent locking wheel.

[0013] In this manner, both the BTSI and return to park functionality are integrated into a simplified design consisting of a single DC motor with lock lever gear and extending lock lever subassembly, detent locking wheel, return torsional spring which are incorporated into the biased plunger housing subassembly and so that the plunger provides for normal shifting operation, with the detent locking heel operating in combination with the DC motor and lock lever to provide return to park functionality

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] Reference will now be made to the attached illustrations, wfien read in combination with the following detailed description, wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views: and in which:

[0015] Figs. 1 A-1D present a series of perspective, top, side and end views of a package housing associated with a rotary shifter according to a first embodiment of the present invention and depicting a rotary knob which can shift between each of Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive gear positions;

[0016] Fig. 2 is an exploded view of the rotary shifter package with auto return to park and park lock functionality according to one non-limiting variant of the present invention;

[0017] Fig 2A is an underside perspective of the PCB board, light pipes and pairs of

LED elements; [0018] Fig. 3 is an underside rotated perspective of the fixed position rotary shifter and depicting the features of the detent locking wheel engaged by the solenoid and lock lever/lock plunger assembly with the Park lock (BTSI) function engaged,

[0019] Fig 4 is a further enlarged and rotated perspective view of the lock lever assembly including lock plunger engaged within a circumferentially arrayed window portion of the detent locking wheel, in turn torsionally spring biased in ratchet fashion to the main housing body:

[0020] Fig. 5 is an illustration similar to Fig. 3 of the solenoid energized in a retracting and partially unlocking position relative to the detent locking wheel, permitting the plunger housing to be rotated out of the Park position;

[0021] Fig. 6A is a further rotated and partial perspective view with the detent locking wheel in partially transparent illustration still locked by the lock plunger and Fig. 6B is an enlarged perspective of the lock plunger;

[0022] Fig. 7 is a further succeeding illustration of the mechanism from an underside perspective in the position as substantially shown in Fig. 5 (solenoid on and partially retracted) and depicting a first torsional spring leg positioned against a circumferential underside ratchet teeth location associated with the detent locking wheel;

[0023] Fig. 8 is a succeeding illustration to Fig. 7 and depicting the other torsional spring leg locked against an outer circumferential underside toothed location of the housing surrounding the detent locking wheel for enabling ratchet style adjustment between each of the PRND positions; [0024] Fig. 9 is a further illustration, similar to each of Figs. 3, 5 and 7, depicting the lock plunger in a fully retracted position resulting in release of the detent locking wheel and rotation of the wheel together with the knob to the Park position;

[0025] Fig 10 is an illustration of a lever style shifter according to a further embodiment and which includes a reconfiguration of each of the shifter housing, plunger housing subassembly, lock lever assembly and solenoid assembly:

[0026] Figs. 11-14 present a series of perspective, top, side and end views of a package housing associated with a rotary' shifter according to a second embodiment of the present invention and depicting a rotary knob which can shift between each of Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive gear positions;

[0027] Fig. 15 is an exploded view' of the rotary shifter package with auto return to park and park lock functionality according to the variant of Fig. 11;

[0028] Fig. 16 is further enlarged and rotated perspective view of the lock lever assembly including DC motor, motor gear and linearly actuating lock lever depicted engaged within a circumferentially arrayed window portion of the detent locking wheel, in turn torsionally spring biased in ratchet fashion to the main housing body;

[0029] Fig. 17 is an illustration similar to Fig. 16 of the DC motor energized in a retracting and partially unlocking position relative to the detent locking wheel, permitting the plunger housing to be rotated out of the Park position;

[0030] Fig 18 is a succeeding illustration to Fig 17 illustrating the DC motor, actuated by the sensor, further retracting the lock lever to a fully retracted position, in which the tip of the lever is disengaged from the detent locking wheel, and prior to the torsional spring rotating the plunger and locking wheel to the reset/Park position;

[0031] Fig. 19 is an illustration of the plunger housing locked in a neutral shifter position with the DC Motor driving the lock lever through the window of the detent locking wheel to its forward most position to lock the plunger housing;

[0032] Fig. 20 is a perspective of the plunger housing according to the embodiment of

Figs. 1 1 et seq. and illustrating the engagement slots for both the Park lock and Neutral Lock locations,

[0033] Fig. 21 is a succeeding illustration to Fig. 18 depicting the rotation of the plunger housing and wheel to the return to park position;

[0034] Fig. 22 is an illustration of a lever style shifter generally which includes a reconfiguration of each of the shifter housing, plunger housing subassembly, lock lever assembly and solenoid assembly according to the embodiment of Fig. 10;

[0035] Fig. 23 is a yet further lever style shifter similar in respects to that shown in Fig.

22 and depicting a DC motor gear box assembly and lock lever in substitution for the solenoid arrangement of Fig. 22.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0036] With reference now to Figs. 1-9, the present invention discloses a rotary shifter with auto return to park and park lock functionality. Figures 10 and 22 further illustrate related second lever style versions of the shifter package according to another non-limiting variant of the present invention, and which again provides both auto return to park and park lock features. [0037] Figures 11-21 illustrate a further rotary shifter similar in respects to Figs. 1-9 and substituting the solenoid and lock plunger arrangement in favor of a DC motor with motor gear which in turn actuates a linearly bi-directionally displaceable lock lever between the fully inserted/engaged, intermediate withdrawn (shifter position adjustable) and sensor initiated and fully retracted (auto return to Park) functionality. Finally, Fig. 23 corresponds generally to Fig. 22 and teaches a related variant of the shifter mechanism of Fig. 22 with a DC motor gear box assembly in substitution for the solenoid actuated assembly.

[0038] Referring first to Figures 1 A- I D, illustrated are a series of perspective, top, side and end views of a package housing, generally at 10, associated with a rotary shifter according to a first embodiment of the present invention, and depicting a rotary knob 12 which can shift between each of Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive gear positions. The shifter assembly includes a main package defining and three dimensional rectangular shaped housing 14 over which is attached a bezel cover 16, and within which is depicted each of the PRND positions. Although not clearly shown, the bezel cover further includes an annular opening defined within and which provides a receiving access to the features of the rotary knob subassembly as will be further described.

[0039] The package housing 14, best depicted in the solid underside rotated views of

Figs. 7-8, includes an open interior having a cavity (see at 18) for supporting the solenoid and lock lever assemblies as will be described in further detail below. A circumferentially extending inner extending divider wall is shown at 20, segregated to a side of the main housing 14, and which separates the solenoid and lock lever assembly supporting cavity from a further inner cavity defined by a receiving profile for receiving a sleeve shaped detent locking wheel 22. The locking wheel 22 underside is configured with a circumferential array of serrated or angled edge locations 24, these being in the form of successive extending ramps and being arranged coaxially interiorly relative to a surrounding plurality of recessed seating locations arranged in alternating fashion with a plurality of teethed portions 26 which are configured in the outer coaxial and circumferential end surface profile of the divider wall 20 (see in particular Figs. 3, 5, 7 and 8) As best shown in each of Figs. 3-6, a plurality of window defining apertures 28 are configured in circumferential spaced fashion through the annular side all of the detent locking wheel 22, these for engaging the lock lever assembly plunger as will be subsequently described.

[0040] As will be further described, the circumferential overlapping arrangement of the outer coaxial teethed portions 26 and inner ramped 24 surfaces establishes a plurality of successive ratchet teeth, these controlling successive rotation of the knob 12 and plunger housing subassembly, via an interposed torsional spring 31. A generally cylindrical shaped plunger housing is depicted at 30 associated with the rotary knob 12 subassembly is provided and includes a pair of lower and opposite and radial projecting guiding portions 32 and 34, these being interiorly hollowed for receiving a pair of opposing steel bails (one of which is shown at 36 in Fig. 4) and supporting detent springs (such being coil springs which are installed within the open ends of the radial projecting and guiding portions and which bias the bearings or balls outwardly from the open ends of the portions 32/34, it being further understood that the diameter of the open ends of the radial plunger housing portions are sized to permit a minor portion of the bearings to project outwardly from the open ends, with the largest diameters being retained in an inner annular edge contact with interior of the portions). Although not clearly shown, the radial projecting guiding portions 32 and 34 align with an inwardly facing detent profile associated with the detent wheel interior, the outwardly influenced steel balls supported within the open interior of the radial portions interacting in tactile induced fashion with the detent profile edges defined within the detent wheel in order to establish guided rotation of the knob 12.

[0041] A torsional return spring 31 (see Fig. 2) includes a first extending leg 33 (see

Fig 7) biased against the underside ramped ratchet teeth 24 of the detent locking wheel, with a second extending leg 35 (Fig. 8) engaged to a recessed location of the circumferential underside seating profile which is situated between successive teethed locations 26. As will be further described, the return spring enables selected controlled adjustment between the PRND positions (such as when the brake pedal is depressed and the Park lock or BTSI function is disabled, with spring operating in concert with the solenoid, lock plunger and detent locking wheel in an automatic return to park situation as instructed by the exterior sensors and PCB.

[0042] The rotary knob 12 includes an extending shaft or stem portion 38 receiving an underside knob seal 39 affixing within an open upper rim interior 41 of the plunger housing 12. Upon the bezel cover 16 being mounted atop the main packaging housing 12, and the plunger housing 30 being mounted through the bezel cover opening 16 and into the main package housing 12 (with the knob underside ledge surrounding the seal supported upon the annular rim of the bezel cover and surrounding the opening, the radial projecting portions 32/34 are received coaxially within the circumferential stepped underside profile 26 of the housing align with the inwardly facing detent profile surfaces to facilitate tactile engagement of the knob 12 and plunger housing 30.

[0043] As further shown in Fig 2, a printed circuit board (PCB) 40 is located at the generally bottom of the package interior, secured by screws (not shown) with a bottom cover 42 supported underneath the PCB 40, and which in turn mates with an underside outer rectangular rim edge (see also at 44 in Fig. 3) of the main housing 12. A plurality of outer and upwardly projecting tabs 45 extend from the edges of the bottom cover 42 and seat within receiving windows 47 configured into the lower edge side and end walls of the main housing body to assist in assembling the package together. Separate screw's 43 can be provided for extending through aligning mounting apertures in the PCB 40 and the bottom cover 42 (see again Fig. 2) to assist in assembling together the package housing. As further shown, the outer package housing 14 can include peripheral mounting tabs or portions extending in spaced apart fashion around the main housing (see at 46 in Fig I B) for mounting the overall assembly within a vehicle environment.

[0044] An underside surface of the plunger housing 30 integrates a magnet holder 48 such containing a magnet 49 within a hidden underside thereof and which, upon rotating the plunger housing 30 relative to the main package housing 14 and as guided by the internal detent profile (coaxial surfaces 24 and 26), causes the magnet 49 to travel in an arc motion relative to the PCB mounted sensor, resulting in adjustment of a magnetic field sensed by a position sensor within the PCB board 40, such as which is understood further to be any suitable type of inductive or magnetic Flail effect sensor, in order to detect a rotated knob position.

[0045] A plurality of light pipes are provided and include each Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive gear position light pipes, see at 50, 52, 54 and 56 in Fig. 2. A Sport gear position light pipe is further shown at 58 in combination with a surface“S” button fitting 60 integrated into the knob 12 and a further“S” button push pad 62 located at a bottom end of the“S” gear position light pipe 58.

[0046] Each of the light pipes 50-58 (Fig. 2) are supported within the package housing so that bottom open ends are in communication with individual pairs of LED’s (see further at 51, 53, 55, 57 and 59, respectively for lights pipes 50, 52, 54, 56 and 58 in the underside perspective of Fig. 2 A) integrated into the PCB board 44. The pairing of the LED’s provides one each for backlighting and gear indication respectively for each shifter position. Reference is also made to the illuminating RNDS locations (see at 64, 66, 68 and 70) formed into the top bezel cover 16 in Figs. 1A-B and in addition to the“S” position designated on button 60 seated within the inner annular aperture profile of the knob 12.

[0047] The present design incorporates a solenoid assembly, see at 72, which as previously indicated is supported within the interior of the housing 14 adjacent to the circumferential seating profile 26 for supporting the detent locking wfieel 22. The solenoid 72 is provided with power from an external force and includes a linear extending (and power retracting) portion 74 which is engaged to a location 75 of an elongated and irregular shaped lock lever assembly 76, this in turn pivotally supported at a location 78 to an interior location of the main package housing 14.

[0048] A torsion spring 80 (see as bests shown in Figs. 3-4) is mounted to the annular pedestal shape defining the pivotal supporting location 78 of the lock lever assembly, such that a first leg 82 of the spring biases against an interior abutting location of the housing 14 and a second leg 84 against a projecting location 88 of the lock lever assembly 76 in order to bias the same in a direction towards the detent locking wheel 22 (see also directional arrows in Figs. 3 and 5) The lock lever assembly includes a lock plunger 90 (see as best shown in Figs. 4-6) which is received at an extended location of the lock lever assembly 76 positioned between the inner pivoting end 78 and a remote extending end 92 (see Fig. 4). A noise damper O-ring 96 is further provided on the extending end 92 of the lock lever assembly 76. [0049] As best shown in Fig. 4, the lock plunger 90 is received between a pair of crosswise projecting shoulders 98 and 100 configured upon the lock lever assembly 76 and which define a pin inserting crosswise pivot axis 102. The lock plunger 90, again in Figs. 6A and 6B, includes a rounded 103 base profile with aperture 104 for seating the pin associated with the pivot axis 102. Limited pivoting of the lock plunger 90 relative to the lock lever assembly 76 is facilitated by a secondary spring 105 (again Fig. 4). The lock plunger 90 includes an outermost projecting edge abutment 106 and, as will be described, is retained in contact with an edge (at 107 in Fig. 6A) of a selected perimeter window' 28 of the detent locking wheel 22, following partial retraction from the fully Park position locked position (Figs. 3-4) in which the lock plunger restrains both the detent locking wheel 22 and the plunger housing subassembly 30, to an intermediate retracted position (Figs. 5-8) in which the plunger subassembly 30 is released for controlled shifting against the still fixed detent locking wheel 22 via the partial engaging position of the lock plunger 90 (with extending lip edge or step 106 gripping the projecting edge location 107 as again shown in Fig. 6A of the detent locking wheel window) and, finally, (Fig. 9) with the lock plunger 90 pivoted against the crosswise pivoting holding force of the tertiary spring 105 for permitting the plunger lip edge 106 to release from the detent locking wheel window 28 in a return to park reset condition.

[0050] Engagement between the solenoid 72 and the detent locking wheel 22 occurs via the pivoting lock lever assembly 76 (mounted to the housing again at 78) and which is slaved to the solenoid. The lock plunger 90 projects from the lever assembly 76 such that, in a de energized solenoid condition (Figs. 3-4), the lock plunger 90 engages a selected aperture location 28 of the detent locking wheel 22. In a normal shifting operation, the torsional (return) spring 31 is loaded between the detent locking wheel 22 (via extending spring leg 33 in Fig. 7) and housing 14 (via extending spring leg 35 in Fig. 8) and will cause the affixed knob 12 to be stopped by the at the Park and Drive positions, shifting effort being generated by the pair of steel balls 36 biased by the internal coil springs integrated into extending portions 32/34 of the plunger housing subassembly 30, and which are guided within inner perimeter extending detent or toothed surfaces defined by the coaxially supporting outer profile 26 in the outer fixed package housing. This occurs concurrent with the adjustable torsional spring leg 33 being continuously repositioned (pushed over) adjoining the adjoining ramped ratchet teeth 24 formed within the underside surface of the detent locking wheel 22.

[0051] The lock lever assembly 76, again slaved to the solenoid 72, is pivotally mounted to the housing 14 and biased by the further torsional spring 80 in a direction towards the detent locking wheel 22 (again Fig. 3). The lock plunger 90 is in turn supported upon the lock lever assembly 76 in the limited pivoting fashion via the smaller and tertiary spring 105 (Fig. 4) and, in combination with the catch ledge 106 configured into the forward most edge of the lock plunger, provides the limited range of motion between projecting/engaged (Figs. 3-4) and partially retracted/released (Figs 5-8) positions relative to a selected circumferentially arrayed window 28 associated with the outer annular wall of the detent locking wheel 22, and further so that this outer ledge or step 106 prevents the lock plunger 90 from retracting beyond a distance necessary to afford spring biased return to park rotation of the detent locking wheel 22. Figure 9 represents the lock plunger 90 fully disengaged from the detent locking wheel 22 (such as upon deflection of the lock plunger 90 about the crosswise pivot axis 102 of Fig. 4 and against the holding force of the tertiary spring 105 (see also directional arrow 103 of the lock plunger 90 about pivot 102) and in order to allow the wheel 22 to rotated the knob/plunger back to the Park position.

[0052] The PCB board 40 and related sensors are arranged in communication with the arcuately and rotatably displaceable magnet 49 (see again as shown in each of succeeding underside views of Figs. 3-9) and outer holder 48. Travel of the magnet holder 48 and off center and arc motion supported magnet 49, relative to the sensor supported upon the PCB 40, confirms resetting of the Park position and is controlled by the relative rotation between the knob 12 and the end stopper, which occurs upon the energization of the solenoid 72 to cause the lock lever 76 and lock plunger 90 to a release/retracted position relative to the detent locking wheel (again via the lock plunger and pivoting lock lever assembly), at which the torsional spring 31 counter rotates the assembly to the Park position.

[0053] As previously described, the Park lock function further describes standard

BTSI (brake transmission system interlock) functionality, which mechanically locks the shifter knob 12 in the Park position unless the driver presses the brake pedal before shifting to any of the R, N and D positions. The BTSI aspect is integrated into the PCB 40 to solenoid communication protocol of the design, additionally and apart from its return to park features [0054] A plurality of extraneous vehicle sensors are arranged throughout the vehicle in communication with the solenoid for determining a Park reset triggering condition, such determined to occur by the driver unlatching the seatbelt, exiting the vehicle by opening the door, etc., with the vehicle in gear. Once one of these conditions has been met, the given sensor instructs the solenoid to retract the lock plunger from engagement with the outer toothed location of the detent locking wheel in an energized/released condition. [0055] Once the new Park position is established, and as confirmed by the proximity condition established between the magnet and holder via the PCB mounted sensor (such as which is understood further to be any suitable type of inductive or magnetic Hall effect sensor which is integrated into the interface established between the magnet holder 48 and the opposing PCB surface), the solenoid 72 is once again de-energized in order to permit the extending portion 72 to extend concurrent with the biasing force of the torsional spring 80 pushing the lock lever assembly 76 and crosswise supported lock plunger 90 to reengage the selected window 28 configured into the detent locking wheel 22.

[0056] In this manner, both the BTSI and return to park functionality are integrated into a simplified design consisting of a single solenoid, detent locking wheel, return torsional spring and interposed lock lever which are incorporated into the biased plunger housing subassembly and so that the plunger provides for normal shifting operation, with the detent locking wheel operating in combination with the solenoid and lock plunger to provide return to park functionality. Furthermore, the ability to utilize the auto return to park rotary shifter with the rotary end stopper disk, solenoid, and torsional spring (in contrast to the arrangement of multiple motors or solenoids associated with fixed position rotary shifters) provides a much more simplified and reliable design for ensuring a return to Park condition.

[0057] Summarizing the operating protocol of the present assembly, Figs. 3-4 again illustrated the solenoid deactivated and with the lock lever assembly supported plunger in a fully engaged position within a selected window 28 of the detent locking wheel 22 In this position, the Park lock (BTSI) mechanism is engaged and the vehicle is locked in the Park position by virtue of the lock plunger 90 engaging both the detent locking wheel 22 through a selected

J 7 perimeter extending window 28 and further engaging the abutment location (see at 29 in Fig. 5) of the plunger housing subassembly 30.

[0058] Figures 5-6 subsequently illustrate the solenoid 72 in an energized state in which the lock plunger 90, via the lock lever assembly 76 and the retracting force of the solenoid extension 74 overcomes the biasing forces of the spring 80, causing the plunger to be partially retracted out of contact with the stop location 29 of the inner rotatable supported plunger housing 30. The extending lip edge 106 of the lock plunger remains in engaging contact with the detent locking wheel window 28 such that, in normal shifting operation as depicted in Figs. 7-8, the plunger housing subassembly 30 and slaved knob 12 are permitted to adjust the shifter between each of the PRND (and S) positions. In this condition, the return spring 31 is loaded between the detent locking wheel (transitioning leg 33) and housing (fixed leg 35) with transitioning between the shifter positions occurring as previously described. Due to the architecture of the package housing interior 14, the knob 12 is limited to rotation between the Park and Drive positions, with shifting effort generated by the bearings or balls (36) and the hidden springs incorporated into the radial projecting portions 32/34 of the plunger housing subassembly 30.

[0059] Figure 9 further depicts the fully released position in which the lock plunger 90 is fully retracted from the associated engaging window 28 of the detent locking wheel 22 (again via cross pivoting along directional arrow 103 about pin axis 102 and against the tertiary holding force of the spring 105), such in response to the PCB 40 being notified by an external sensor of a reset condition (resulting again from arc rotation of the magnet 49 relative to the PCB mounted sensor) such as resulting from the driver preparing to exit the vehicle without having previously rotated the knob into the Park position. In this condition, the solenoid is powered to the on condition and the plunger fully retracted from the detent locking wheel 22 resulting in the torsion spring 31 (via opposite biasing legs 33 and 35) rotating the wheel 22 and supported knob 12 and plunger housing subassembly 30 to the Park position.

[0060] Finally, Fig. 10 is an illustration, generally at 1 10, of a lever style fixed position rotary shifter with auto return to park and park lock functionality. As compared to the knob style rotary shifter of Figs. 1-9, the lever style package 110 operates in a functionally similar fashion and includes a shifter housing 112 (shown in split half shell with an open interior) and which, similar to the rotary knob package housing 14, includes an arcuate and substantially perimeter extending and supporting profile 114 which coaxially seats a reconfiguration of the detent locking wheel 1 16 including a plurality of perimeter spaced windows 118 configured therein.

[0061] A lock lever assembly 120 is provided which is pivotally supported (at location

122) within an adjacent interior location of the housing 112 outside of the support profile 1 14. A solenoid assembly 124 is supported within the housing 112 and includes an extensible end 126 which is pivotally slaved, at 128 to an arm 121 extending to the pivot location 122 of the lever assembly 120 and so that the arm 121 is angularly offset from the lock lever assembly 120.

[0062] As further shown, a portion of the lock lever assembly 120 extends from the intermediate pivotal support location 122 in a direction generally opposite from the solenoid slaved location 126 and terminates in a crosswise extending lock plunger 130 As with the prior embodiment, the lock plunger 130 can be supported in a crosswise pin rotating fashion, see at 132, and can also include any type of tertiary' biasing spring (such as depicted at 105 in the preceding lock plunger 90 of Fig. 6) to maintain an extending portion of the plunger 130 into contact through the selected window 118 of the detent locking wheel.

[0063] A plunger housing subassembly 134 is rotatable supported within the detent locking wheel 1 16, the subassembly 134 being functionally similar to that previously described at 30 and including a pair of opposite radial extending wings or portions 136/138 relative to a center rotating axis 140 for supporting the subassembly 134 within the housing 112. The plunger housing subassembly includes a similar arrangement of spring biased balls or bearings (not shown) which are supported at open ends of the extending portions 136/138 and in order to provide iterative shifting between PRND positions.

[0064] A shifter lever 142 extends from a central receiving pocket 144 of the plunger housing subassembly 134 and through a slot configured into an upper edge of the shifter housing 1 12 (such as further established by mating halves of the housing) for accommodating each of the PRND positions. A return spring (a portion of which is shown at 146) is provided and operates under a similar principal as that depicted at 31 in the preceding embodiment for controlling controlled adjustment and return to park reset of the detent locking wheel 116 and supported shifter lever/plunger housing subassembly relative to the outer shifter housing 1 12

[0065] Operation of the lever style shifter 110 operates under similar principles to the rotary knob style shifter 10, with the lock plunger 130 being in a fully engaged (solenoid de- energized) position in which the plunger extends through the detent locking wheel 116 and selected perimeter window 1 18 into an abutment engagement (substantially obscured) with the plunger housing subassembly 134. Initial energization of the solenoid 124 results in partial retraction of the extending portion 126 to partially pivot the lock plunger 130 out of engagement with the plunger housing subassembly 134, allowing normal shifting operation in which the subassembly 134 is permitted to pivot between the PRND positions relative to the fixed detent locking wheel 116.

[0066] A similar PCB, magnet and sensor arrangement (not shown) is provided in the lever style embodiment 110 and, upon triggering a reset event, instructs the solenoid 124 to fully retract the lock plunger 130 from the detent locking wheel 116, at which the return spring 146 biases the wheel 1 16 to rotate to a Park reset condition relative to the outer shifter housing 112. In this manner, the rotary knob variant of Figs. 1-9 is reconfigured as a straight gate shifter as described in Fig. 10.

[0067] Figure 22 is an illustration of a lever style shifter generally representing the DC motor, generally at 150 according to yet further embodiment and which includes a reconfiguration of each of the shifter housing, plunger housing subassembly, lock lever assembly and solenoid assembly according to the embodiment of Fig. 10. Specifically, the solenoid 124 of Fig. 10 is reconfigured as shown at 152 and is supported within a housing 154 and includes an extensible end 156 which is pivotally slaved, at 158 to an arm 160 extending to a pivot location 162 of the lever assembly and so that the arm 160 is angularly offset from an angularly extending lock lever assembly 164.

[0068] As further shown, a portion of the lock lever assembly 164 extends from the intermediate pivotal support location 162 in a direction generally opposite from the solenoid slaved location 156 and terminates in a crosswise extending lock plunger 166. As with the prior variant of Fig. 10, the lock plunger can be pivotally supported and can also include any type of tertian, ' biasing spring (as depicted at 105 in the preceding lock plunger 90 of Fig. 6) to maintain an extending portion of the plunger into contact through a selected window of a reconfiguration 168 detent locking wheel.

[0069] A redesign of the plunger housing subassembly, at 170, is rotatably supported within the detent locking wheel 168, the plunger housing subassembly being functionally similar to that previously described and including a pair of opposite radial extending wings or portions 172/174 relative to a center rotating axis 176 for supporting the subassembly within the housing 154. The plunger housing subassembly includes a similar arrangement of spring biased balls or bearings (not shown) which are supported at open ends of the extending portions 172/174 and in order to provide iterative shifting between PRND positions.

[0070] A shifter lever 178 extends from a central receiving pocket 180 of the plunger housing subassembly and through a slot configured into an upper edge of the shifter housing (such as further established by mating halves of the housing) for accommodating each of the PRND positions. A return spring (a portion of which is shown at 182) is provided and operates under a similar principal as that previously depicted in the preceding embodiment for controlling controlled adjustment and return to park reset of the detent locking wheel 168 and supported shifter lever/plunger housing subassembly relative to the outer shifter housing A further torsional spring 184 is depicted in the open cutaway of Fig. 22 and biases and opposite ends 186 and 188, respectively, to each of the shifter lever 178 and the plunger housing subassembly 170.

[0071] As described previously in Fig 10, operation of the lever style shifter 150 operates under similar principles to the rotary knob style shifter 10, with the lock plunger 166 being in a fully engaged (solenoid de-energized) position in which the plunger extends through the detent locking wheel 168 and selected perimeter window into an abutment engagement (substantially obscured) with the plunger housing subassembly 170. Initial energization of the solenoid 152 results in partial retraction of the extending portion 156 to partially pivot the lock plunger 166 out of engagement with the plunger housing subassembly 170, allowing normal shifting operation in which the subassembly is permitted to pivot between the PRND positions relative to the fixed detent locking wheel 168.

[0072] Referencing now Figs. 11-21 in combination, a rotary' shifter assembly is presented which is similar in many respects to that collectively depicted in Figs. 1-9, with the exception that the solenoid and plunger assembly of the initial embodiment is substituted by an electric motor, such as a DC motor and associated driving lock mechanism for the purpose of displacing an extending lock lever relative to the detent locking wheel and associated plunger housing between fully engaged (Park position locked or Neutral position locked), partially retracted (shift position permitting) and fully retracted (sensor initiated and auto return to Park) positions. With reference to the following disclosure, the preferred embodiment illustrated teaches a DC electric motor drive, with the understanding that other embodiments of electric motor and associated drive linkage can also be substituted

[0073] Figures 11-14 present a series of perspective, top, side and end views of a package housing associated with a rotary shifter according to a second embodiment (at 200 in Fig. 11) of the present invention and depicting a rotary' knob which can shift between each of Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive gear positions. In the following discussion of Figs 11-21, common features such as the PC board, lighting pipes and other supporting structure remain as previously described in the initial rotary shifter embodiment and, where appropriate, will be repetitively referenced and illustrated. [0074] As with the initial variant of Figs. 1A-1D, Figs. 11-14 illustrate a series of perspective, top, side and end views of the package housing 200 associated with a rotary shifter according to the further non-limiting embodiment of the present invention, and depicting a rotary knob 202 which can shift between each of identified Park 204, Reverse 206, Neutral 208, and Drive 210 gear positions. A central push button portion 212 is also provided and includes a further Sport position designation 214.

[0075] As with the initial variant 10, the shifter assembly includes a main package defining and three dimensional rectangular shaped housing 216 over which is attached a bezel cover 218, such as via comer screws 219. Although not clearly shown, the bezel cover further includes an annular opening defined within and which provides a receiving access for seating upon the cover the rotary knob 202, such as which is further illustrated with a knurled perimeter extending side edge 220.

[0076] The rectangular three dimensional and package defining housing 216, again includes an open interior having a cavity for supporting the various components of the shifter 200. As depicted in the initial variant of the housing 14 (see also interior defined circumferential separating wall 20 in Figs. 7-8) can be provided which separates the DC motor and associated gearing and lock lever features described below from a further inner cavity defined by a receiving profile for receiving each of a plunger housing subassembly 221 and a sleeve shaped detent locking wheel, see at 222 in Fig. 15.

[0077] As with the preceding embodiment, the locking wheel 222 underside is configured with a circumferential array of serrated or angled edge locations 224, these being in the form of successive extending ramps and being arranged coaxially interiorly relative to a surrounding plurality of recessed seating locations arranged in alternating fashion with a plurality of teethed portions which are configured in the outer coaxial and circumferential end surface profile of the divider wall (see again teethed portions 26 in Figs. 3, 5, 7 and 8). A plurality of window defining apertures 226 are configured in circumferential spaced fashion through the annular side wall of the detent locking wheel 222, these for engaging the lock lever assembly plunger as will be subsequently described.

[0078] The plunger housing is again depicted at 221 and includes a generally cylindrical shaped housing associated with the rotary knob 220. As with the plunger housing 30 of the first embodiment, the plunger housing 221 includes a pair of lower and opposite and radial projecting guiding portions, one of which is depicted at 228 in Fig. 15 and a pair of which are further shown at 228/229 in the underside perspective of the plunger housing 221 in Fig. 20, these again being interiorly hollowed for receiving a pair of opposing steel balls (see at 230 with reference again being made to the previous embodiment with one shown at 36 in Fig. 4) and interior supporting detent springs (such being coil springs which are installed within the open ends of the radial projecting and guiding portions and which bias the bearings or balls 230 outwardly from the open ends of the portions.

[0079] As with the previous described embodiment, it is again understood that the diameter of the open ends of the radial plunger housing portions are sized to permit a minor portion of the bearings to project outwardly from the open ends, with the largest diameters being retained in an inner annular edge contact with interior of the portions. Although not clearly shown, the radial projecting guiding portions align with an inwardly facing detent profile associated with the detent wheel 222 interior, the outwardly influenced steel bails supported within the open interior of the radial portions interacting in tactile induced fashion with the detent profile edges defined within the detent wheel in order to establish guided rotation of the knob 220.

As further shown in the rotated underside of Fig. 20, the plunger housing 221 includes a pair of slots identified at 223 and 225, and which correspond to engagement positions for each of a Park position lock and Neutral position lock in association with the DC motor drive and associated lever lock to be described below . As previously described, a Park or Neutral lock function occurs when the lock lever engages both the detent locking wheel and the plunger housing subassembly preventing shifting between gear positions.

[0080] Also shown is a central through aperture 227 which receives the vertical travel of the sport position button 214 in similar fashion as to that illustrated in Fig. 2 and described in the first embodiment 10. A cylindrical superstructure 231 of the plunger housing 221 includes a plurality of circumferentially spaced side embossments 233, these defining a shoulder for supporting the main torsional spring 232.

[0081] A torsional return spring 232 (see Fig. 15) includes a first extending leg 234 biased against the underside ramped ratchet teeth of the detent locking wheel (see also Fig. 16), with a second extending leg 236 engaged to a recessed location of the circumferential underside seating profile which is situated between successive teethed locations (again as previously illustrated at 26 in Figs. 7-8 in relation to the circumferential dividing interior wall of the enclosure as shown in the initial embodiment). As will be further described, the return spring enables selected controlled adjustment between the PRND positions (such as when the brake pedal is depressed and the Park lock or BTSI function is disabled, with spring operating in concert with the solenoid, lock plunger and detent locking wheel in an automatic return to park situation as instructed by the exterior sensors and PCB.

[0082] The rotary knob 220 includes an extending shaft or stem portion (not shown but similar to that depicted at 38 in Fig. 2) for receiving an underside knob seal affixing within an open upper rim interior of the plunger housing 31. Upon the bezel cover 218 being mounted atop the main packaging housing 216, and the plunger housing 231 being mounted through the bezel cover opening and into the main package housing (with the knob underside ledge surrounding the seal supported upon the annular rim of the bezel cover and surrounding the opening, the radial projecting portions (e.g. at 230) of the plunger housing 221 are received coaxially within the circumferential stepped underside profde (again at 26 in the first embodiment) of the housing and align with the inwardly facing detent profile surfaces to facilitate tactile engagement of the knob 220 and plunger housing 221.

[0083] A printed circuit board (PCB) 238 corresponds to that previously shown at 40 in Fig. 2 and is located at the generally bottom of the package interior, secured by screws (not shown) with a bottom cover 240 supported underneath the PCB 238, and which in turn mates with an underside outer rectangular rim edge (hidden in Fig. 15 but similar to that previously depicted at 44 in Fig. 3) of the main housing 216. A plurality of outer and upwardly projecting tabs 242 extend from the edges of the bottom cover 240 and seat within corner recessed notices 244 configured into the lower edge side and end walls of the main housing body to assist in assembling the package together. Separate screws can be provided for extending through aligning mounting apertures in the PCB 238 and the bottom cover 240 to assist in assembling together the package housing. As previously described in reference to the preceding embodiment 10, the outer package housing 216 can include peripheral mounting tabs or portions extending in spaced apart fashion around the main housing for mounting the overall assembly within a vehicle environment.

[0084] An underside surface of the plunger housing 221 integrates a magnet holder

227 (see again Figs. 15 along with Fig. 20) such containing a magnet (reference again to that previously shown at 49) within a hidden underside thereof and which, upon rotating the plunger housing 221 relative to the main package housing 216 and as guided by the opposing coaxial and internal detent profile, causing the magnet (again previously shown at 49) to travel in an arc motion relative to the PCB mounted sensor, resulting in adjustment of a magnetic field sensed by a position sensor within the PCB board 238, such as which is understood further to be any suitable type of inductive or magnetic Flail effect sensor, in order to detect a rotated knob position.

[0085] For purposes of ease of illustration, not shown in the exploded view of Fig. 15 and the succeeding illustrations of Figs. 16-21 is the arrangement of the light pipes 50-56 in the first embodiment (see again Figs. 2-2A), with the understanding that a similar arrangement is provided in the further embodiment 200 of the rotary shifter.

[0086] The current rotary shifter design 200 differs most notably from the original variant 10 in that it substitutes the solenoid (see at 72 in Fig. 2), lock lever (76) and plunger assembly (90), and related components, with a DC motor 246 for selectively retracting or extending a redesigned and elongated lock lever 248. A motor unit retainer 250 is provided in the form of a support plate or bracket and which is secured within the interior of the package defining housing 216 in a manner in which it positions an output drive shaft 252 with exterior teethed array 254 in meshing alignment with a further set of teeth 256 associated with a motor engaging transfer gear 258.

[0087] The lock lever again includes a forward most projecting portion 248 (this typically being circular in cross section) is the lock lever further includes an elongated body 260 (Fig. 15) which includes intermediate worm gear threads 262. The transfer gear 258 is stationary rotatably supported within the housing interior and includes a middle interior apertures (see at 264 in Fig. 16) which is interiorly threaded (not shown) such that rotation of the lock lever transfer gear by the DC motor 246 is transferred to the worm gear threads 262 configured upon the elongated intermediate body 260 of the lock lever, thereby advancing or retracting the forward most tip 248 of the lock lever relative to the selected window apertures 226 associated with the detent locking wheel 222 or the Park lock 223/Neutral lock 225 receiving slots associated with the plunger housing 221.

[0088] As will be described, the Park lock function (slot 223 of plunger housing 221) allows the driver to shift out of the Park position when the brake pedal (not shown) is depressed. The present design can also lock the shifter 200 in the Neutral position (slot 225) under certain conditions (e.g. such as to permit towing the vehicle) A downward projection 266 of the lock lever body 260 terminates in a lock lever magnet 268, the position of which is detected by a Hall effect of like sensor incorporated into the PCB board 238 during the activation of the DC motor back to the reset/retum to park position.

[0089] Referencing Fig. 16, a further enlarged and rotated perspective view is shown of the lock lever assembly including DC motor 246, motor gear 258 and linearly actuating lock lever 260 depicted engaged within a circumferentially arrayed window 226 of the detent locking wheel, in turn torsi onally spring biased in ratchet fashion to the main housing body.

[0090] Figure 17 is an illustration similar to Fig. 16 of the DC motor 246 energized in a retracting and partially unlocking position the tip of the lock lever (see at position 248’) relative to the detent locking wheel 222, permitting the plunger housing 221 to be rotated out of the Park position (see phantom position 204). In this middle position, the shifter can be normally operated between positions 204, 206, 208, 210 and 214 (Sport) in a manner consistent with the previous description. As also described, the reduction gear ratio afforded by the DC motor to motor gear teethed profiles (254 to 256) provides an enhanced level of push/pull force as opposed to that provided by the solenoid variant (shifter 10 of Fig. 1) and so that any resident pre-loading forces resulting from the torsional spring 232 may be overcome.

[0091] Figure 18 is a succeeding illustration to Fig. 17 illustrating the DC motor 246, actuated by such as the Hall effect sensor on the PC board 238, further retracting the lock lever to a fully retracted position (see position 248”), in which the tip of the lock lever is shown disengaged from the detent locking wheel 222, and prior to the torsional spring 232 rotating the plunger 221 and locking wheel to the reset/Park position.

[0092] Figure 19 is an illustration of the plunger housing locked in a neutral shifter position (see slot position 225 of plunger housing 221 in Fig. 20) with the DC Motor 246 driving the lock lever (main body 260 and tip 262) back through the window of the detent locking wheel to its forward most position to lock the plunger housing.

[0093] Figure 21 is a succeeding illustration to Fig. 18 depicting the rotation of the plunger housing 221 and wheel 222 to the return to park position. As previously described, this can occur upon the driver preparing to exit the vehicle without rotating the knob into the Park position, a signal to the PC board causes the DC motor to activate to rotate the lock lever to the fully disengaged position, the torsional spring 232 thus being activated to return the plunger housing detent locking wheel to the return to Park position.

[0094] Finally, Figure 23 is a yet further lever style shifter, generally at 300, which similar in respects to that shown in Fig. 22 and depicting a redesign of the DC motor gear box 302 assembly and an end projecting portion 304 of a lock lever in substitution for the solenoid arrangement of Fig. 22. The redesign of the lever style shifter is functionally similar to that shown in Fig. 22 and, in this instance, includes a semicircular plate 306 supported within a variant 168’ of the detent locking wheel.

[0095] Not shown is a retracting portion of the lock lever which is driven by the actuation of the DC motor gear box assembly 302, this operating in a similar fashion as that previously described and resulting in the lock lever 304 being retracted out of engagement with a comer notch 308 of the plate 306, whereupon the associated torsional spring (see variant of extending leg 182’) causes the redesign plunger plate 306 and locking wheel 168’ to reset to the Park position. The remaining features depicted in Fig 23 generally overlap those of previously described Fig. 22 so that a repetitive description is not necessary.

[0096] Having described our invention, other and additional embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which it pertains, and without deviating from the scope of the appended claims:

We claim: