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Title:
VEHICLE SUNROOF WIND DEFLECTORS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/191485
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention provides, among others, vehicle sunroof wind deflectors (100) comprising a bellowed member (102) having a length and a height and a plurality of pleats which extend along the length of the bellowed member and form a plurality of channels for deflecting at least a portion of oncoming air.

Inventors:
TOLINSKI ROCH J (US)
CARSON DOUGLAS C (US)
ALLARD JAMES E (US)
Application Number:
US2015/034763
Publication Date:
December 17, 2015
Filing Date:
June 08, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
JIANXIN ZHAOS GROUP CORP (CN)
TOLINSKI ROCH J (US)
CARSON DOUGLAS C (US)
ALLARD JAMES E (US)
International Classes:
B60J7/22
Foreign References:
DE102006019967A12007-10-31
FR2479107A11981-10-02
EP1522443A22005-04-13
EP1112875A22001-07-04
DE102006023911A12007-11-22
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WEISUN, Rao (LLP77 West Wacker Drive, Suite 310, Chicago Illinois, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What Is Claimed Is:

1. A wind deflector for a vehicle sunroof, comprising:

a bellowed member having a length defined by two sides of the bellowed member and a height defined by a top and a bottom of the bellowed member, the bellowed member capable of being configured in a partially or fully deployed position when the vehicle sunroof is open and in a stowed position when the vehicle sunroof is closed;

wherein the bellowed member comprises a plurality of substantially parallel pleats extending along the length of the bellowed member, the pleats forming a plurality of substantially parallel channels extending between the sides of the bellowed member, and the channels direct at least a portion of oncoming air that strikes the bellowed member towards the sides of the bellowed member when the bellowed member is in the deployed position.

2. The wind deflector of claim 1, further comprising:

a cross member having a first end and a second end in proximity of the two sides of the bellowed member, and being secured to the top of the bellowed member; and

a first support arm and a second support arm coupled to the first end and the second end of the cross member, respectively,

wherein positions of the first and second support arms control whether the bellowed member is in the partially or fully deployed position or in the stowed position.

3. The wind deflector of claim 2, further comprising:

a first joint coupled to the first end of the cross member and to the first support arm; and

a second joint coupled to the second end of the cross member and to the second support arm.

4. The wind deflector of claim 2, wherein the bellowed member is securable along a leading edge of the vehicle sunroof.

5. The wind deflector of claim 4, further comprising a seal disposed along the bottom of the bellowed member.

6. The wind deflector of claim 2, further comprising a first lift coupled to the first support arm, wherein the lift is configured to cause the first support arm to move the cross member upwards.

7. The wind deflector of claim 6, wherein the first lift comprises a piston.

8. The wind deflector of claim 6, further comprising a second lift coupled to the second support arm, wherein the second lift is configured to cause the second support arm to move the cross member upwards.

9. The wind deflector of claim 1, further comprising:

a cross member secured to the top of the bellowed member;

a first support arm having a first end and a second end, the second end of the first support arm being coupled to the cross member; and

a second support arm having a first end and a second end, the second end of the second support arm being coupled to the cross member,

wherein the first ends of the first and second supports are pivotably attachable to vehicle structures adjacent to the vehicle sunroof, wherein positions of the second ends of the first and second support arms control whether the bellowed member is in the partially or fully deployed position or in the stowed position.

10. A wind deflector comprising:

a bellowed member having a top, a bottom, a first side, a second side opposing the first side, and a cross member disposed at the top; wherein the bellowed member is capable of a partially or fully deployed position and a stowed position, the bottom of the bellowed member is securable along a leading edge of a vehicle sunroof, the first side of the bellowed member extends at least to a first side of the vehicle sunroof, and the second side of the bellowed member extends at least to a second side of the vehicle sunroof; wherein the bellowed member has a plurality of substantially parallel pleats extending between the two opposing sides of the bellowed member and forming a plurality of substantially parallel channels for directing at least a portion of oncoming air that strikes the bellowed member towards the two opposing sides of the bellowed member when the bellowed member is in a partially or fully deployed position; and

the bellowed member is moved between a partially or fully deployed position and the stowed position by moving the cross member.

11. The wind deflector of claim 10, further comprising a seal disposed along a bottom of the bellowed member.

12. The wind deflector of claim 10, further comprising:

a first pivotable support arm coupled to the cross member; and

a second pivotable support arm coupled to the cross member,

wherein a position of the cross member and the bellowed material depends on positions of the first and second pivotable support arms.

13. The wind deflector of claim 12, wherein the first and second pivotable support arms are coupled to the cross member with a pair of joints.

14. The wind deflector of claim 12, further comprising a lift coupled to at least one of the first or second pivotable support arms, wherein the lift is configured at least to cause the at least one of the first or second pivotable support arms to move the cross member upwards and maintain the bellowed member in the deployed position until a vehicle sunroof is closed.

15. The wind deflector of claim 14, wherein the lift comprises a piston.

16. The wind deflector of claim 14, wherein the first and second pivotable supports are pivotably attachable to vehicle structures adjacent a vehicle sunroof.

17. A wind deflector for a vehicle sunroof, the vehicle sunroof wind deflector comprising: a bellowed member having a length defined by two sides of the bellowed member and a height defined by a top and a bottom of the bellowed member, the bellowed member configurable in a deployed position when the vehicle sunroof is open and in a stowed position when the vehicle sunroof is closed; the bellowed member having a plurality of pleats extending along the length of the bellowed member, the pleats forming a plurality of channels extending between sides of the bellowed member, wherein the channels direct at least a portion of oncoming air that strikes the bellowed member towards the sides of the bellowed member when the bellowed member is in the deployed position;

a cross member secured to a top of the bellowed member;

at least one support arm that is coupled to the cross member; and

a lift coupled to the at least one support armand capable of moving the at least one support arm upwards from a first position to a second position and maintaining the at least one support arm in the second position until the vehicle sunroof is closed,

wherein the positions of the at least one support arm determine a position of the cross member and the position of the cross member determines whether the bellowed member is in the deployed position or the stowed position.

18. The wind deflector of claim 17, wherein the lift comprises a piston.

19. The wind deflector of claim 17, wherein the at least one support arm is coupled to the cross member with a joint.

20. The wind deflector of claim 17, further comprising a seal disposed along a bottom of the bellowed member.

Description:
VEHICLE SUNROOF WIND DEFLECTORS

Cross- Reference to Related Application

[01] This application claims priority to US application number 62/009,690, filed on June 9, 2014, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

Field of the Invention

[02] The present invention relates generally to vehicle sunroof wind deflectors and, more particularly, to vehicle sunroof wind deflectors that reduce an amount of air that flows to the interior of a vehicle through the sunroof or other opening on top of the vehicle.

Background of the Invention

[03] It is known that an increasing percentage of vehicles have sunroofs nowadays.

Passengers of a vehicle can open a sunroof to allow light and fresh air into the passenger compartment, or "interior," of the vehicle. Despite their advantages, open sunroofs introduce an aerodynamic discontinuity to the vehicle profile. Open sunroofs disrupt generally laminar airflow along the top of a vehicle because air passing by the open sunroof tends to enter the interior of the vehicle. Such airflow can become "turbulent" and oftentimes leads to acoustics that are unpleasant to passengers in the vehicle. These acoustics are referred to as "wind noise," which not only reduces passenger comfort, but can in some instances result in relatively painful vibrations in the eardrums of passengers. Further, turbulent airflow is also detrimental to a vehicle's fuel economy and to the durability of at least some vehicle components. [04] Several different types of sunroof wind deflectors have been used over the years to try to reduce wind noise that accompanies open sunroofs. One type of design involves a rigid structure that is mounted onto the top of the vehicle along a leading edge of the sunroof. Some of these rigid structures are installed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), while others are installed as aftermarket products. A portion of these deflectors using the rigid structure design are too short to effectively reduce wind noise. Other deflectors using the rigid structure design that are larger protrude from the top of the vehicle even when the sunroof is closed. Such deflectors are not aesthetically pleasing, reduce fuel efficiency when the sunroof is closed, and can be easily damaged, e.g., when vehicles pass through automatic carwashes.

[05] A more recent design of sunroof wind deflectors involves a fabric net that is deployed in a vertical direction near the leading edge of an opened sunroof. The fabric net collapses when the sunroof is closed. The problem with wind deflectors that involve this fabric net is that wind noise still persists as airflow passing by the vehicle permeates through the fabric net.

Moreover, it has been shown that much of the air striking such fabric nets is merely displaced up and over the fabric nets. Once up and over the fabric net, the airflow is still prone to entering the sunroof to generate wind noise. Thus the wind noise is only somewhat reduced by existing sunroof wind deflectors because much of the airflow is not sufficiently displaced so as to prevent it from entering the open sunroof.

[06] Therefore, a need exists for a vehicle sunroof wind deflector that more effectively reduces wind noise and can be stowed when not in use. Summary of the Invention

[07] The present invention in general provides wind deflectors for vehicle sunroofs. In some embodiments, a vehicle sunroof wind deflector of the present invention comprises a bellowed member having a top, a bottom, and two opposing sides, with the bellowed member having a length defined by the two opposing sides and a height defined by the top and the bottom. The sides of the bellowed member may in some examples extend at least to the left and right sides of a vehicle sunroof. The bellowed member may be securable along a leading edge of the vehicle sunroof. In some cases, a seal may be utilized near the bottom of the bellowed member to prevent, or at least reduce the amount of, air passing beneath the bellowed member and into the vehicle sunroof when open.

[08] Further, the bellowed member is capable of being configured in a partially or fully deployed position, typically when the vehicle sunroof is open, and in a stowed position, typically when the vehicle sunroof is closed. The bellowed member may include a plurality of substantially parallel pleats extending along the length between the two opposing sides. The pleats may form a plurality of substantially parallel channels, also extending between the sides of the bellowed member. When the bellowed member is deployed, the channels direct (thereby deflecting) oncoming air striking the bellowed member towards the sides of the bellowed member.

[09] Some examples of the vehicle sunroof wind deflector may include a cross member that is secured to a top of the bellowed member and has first and second ends that are in proximity of the two sides of the bellowed member. In some instances, the cross member may be secured to the top of the bellowed member in a way that the cross member is integral with the bellowed member. The vehicle sunroof wind deflector may further include first and/or second support arms that are coupled directly or indirectly to first and second ends of the cross member, respectively. In some cases, the first and/or second support arms may be coupled indirectly to the cross member by way of one or more joints. The vehicle sunroof wind deflector may also include one or more lifts that move the first and/or second support arms. In one example, the lift is a piston. The lift is capable of moving the first and/or second support arms from a first lowered position to a second raised position and maintaining the second raised position until the vehicle sunroof is closed. In some cases, the lift(s) may also be capable of moving the support arm(s) downwards as well. The positions of the first and/or second support arms can control the cross member, which in turn controls whether the bellowed member is in the deployed position or the stowed position.

[010] In some examples, each of the first and second support arms may be said to have a first end and a second end, where the second end is coupled to the cross member. The first ends of the first and second supports may be pivotably attached to vehicle structures adjacent to the vehicle sunroof. Thus the positions of the second ends of the first and second support arms control whether the bellowed member is in the deployed position or in the stowed position.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[Oil] Figure 1 is a partial perspective view of an example sunroof wind deflector.

[012] Figure 2 is a front view of an example bellowed member for a sunroof wind deflector. [013] Figure 3 is a side view of the example bellowed member for a sunroof wind deflector shown in Figure 2.

[014] Figure 4 is flow diagram depicting the movement of air as it strikes an example bellowed member while a vehicle is at speed.

[015] Figure 5 is another partial perspective view of an example sunroof wind deflector, with the example sunroof wind deflector shown in a stowed position and also shown in a deployed position.

[016] Figure 6 is a perspective view of an example sunroof wind deflector installed on a vehicle.

Detailed Description of the Invention

[017] The following disclosure of example sunroof wind deflectors is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention to the precise form or forms detailed herein. Instead, the following disclosure is intended to be illustrative so that others may follow its teachings.

[018] A vehicle sunroof wind deflector may include a bellowed member, a pair of support arms, at least one lift, a pair of joints, and a cross member. The bellowed member may be secured to a component towards a leading edge of a vehicle sunroof as well as the cross member. The cross member may be coupled to the pair of joints that are in turn coupled to the pair of support arms. When the sunroof is opened, the at least one lift may exert a force to pivot the support arms upwards, which in turn moves the vehicle sunroof wind deflector from a stowed position to a deployed position. The bellowed member may include pleats that form channels extending laterally across the bellowed member. The lateral channels prevent much of the air that strikes the bellowed member from deflecting up and over the bellowed member. Instead, the channels direct air that strikes the bellowed member laterally towards sides of the bellowed member and out past the sunroof so as to significantly reduce wind noise in the interior of the vehicle.

[019] Turning now to the figures, Figure 1 shows a portion of an example sunroof wind deflector 100, as viewed from a point above a front right portion of a vehicle. In some examples, the sunroof wind deflector 100 may comprise a bellowed member 102, at least one support arm 104, at least one lift 106, at least one joint 108, and/or a cross member 110. Those having ordinary skill in the art will recognize that in some examples one or more additional support arms, lifts, and joints may be included because Figure 1 only shows one side of the example sunroof wind deflector 100. Likewise, the example sunroof wind deflector 100 may in some instances include additional components not mentioned here, such as an extension disclosed in US Application No. 62/009,885 directed to a "Vehicle Sunroof Wind Deflector Extension," which is co-owned by the applicant here and was filed on the same day as the present application, and which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

[020] Further, the example sunroof wind deflector 100 may be utilized with a variety of types of sunroofs. For instance, the example sunroof wind deflector 100 is shown in Figure 1 with a variety of other components 112 that define a sunroof and cooperate with still other components (not shown), such as a panel of glass. The particular arrangement of the other components 112 is not critical to the disclosed sunroof wind deflectors, as the present invention may be employed with a variety of different sunroof designs.

[021] The example bellowed member 102, as shown more closely in the front view in Figure 2 and the side view in Figure 3, may include a plurality of substantially parallel pleats 140 that extend generally in a lateral direction along a length 142 of the bellowed member 102. The pleats 140 serve numerous purposes. For one, an accordion-like structure of the pleats 140 allows the bellowed member 102 and thus the sunroof wind deflector 100 to be moved from a stowed position to a deployed position and from a deployed position back to a stowed position. It will be understood by those having ordinary skill in the art that the bellowed member 102 may be either partially or fully deployed in "the deployed position." The sunroof wind deflector 100 may be kept in a compact stowed position when the sunroof is closed. Alternatively, the sunroof wind deflector 100 may transition to a deployed position when the sunroof is opened, as shown throughout the figures. In addition, the accordion-like structure of the pleats 140 provides considerably more cross-car strength in the bellowed member 102 compared to traditional wind deflectors.

[022] Moreover, the pleats 140 of the example bellowed member 102 also direct airflow striking the bellowed member 102 in a manner that significantly reduces wind noise in the interior of the vehicle when the sunroof is opened. The example bellowed member 102 shown in the figures may include a plurality of substantially parallel channels 144 that are formed by the pleats 140, as shown in the side view of Figure 3. Due to the orientation of the channels 144 with respect to a direction of the airflow 146, air that strikes the bellowed member 102 is forced laterally towards sides 148 of the bellowed member 102 by the channels 144, as shown in Figure 4. The bellowed member may be said to have a length as defined by the sides 148. Thus air that is displaced from the bellowed member 102 is directed by the channels 144 to the sides 148 of the bellowed member 102 where the air is released. In some examples, the bellowed member 102 is sized such that the length 142 of the bellowed member 102 is greater than the width of the sunroof. Such a design reduces the likelihood that air displaced by the bellowed member 102 will enter the sunroof and/or contribute to any wind noise. Those having ordinary skill in the art will understand that the channels 144 of the bellowed member 102 cause incoming air to be routed around the bellowed member 102, as opposed to up and over the bellowed member 102 where the air still has an opportunity to enter the sunroof.

[023] Although the structure of the example bellowed member 102 is shown to be generally planar in the figures, in some examples the bellowed member 102 may have a different structure. For instance, the bellowed member 102 may be curved near the sides 148 in one example so as to follow, at least to some degree, the front corners of the sunroof. In another example, the bellowed member 102 near the sides 148 may be oblique with respect to a majority of the bellowed member 102. It should be understood that every vehicle has a slightly different aerodynamic profile and that minimizing wind noise may in some cases require the particulars of the bellowed member 102 to vary from one vehicle to the next. By way of example, the bellowed member 102 may be formed from a variety of different materials. In some cases, the bellowed member 102 is formed from a material that may be less permeable than the fabric nets that have been used in existing sunroof wind deflectors. As another example, the quantity and size of the pleats in the bellowed member 102 may vary. In another case, the bellowed member 102 may be curved such that a forward-most point of the bellowed member 102 is at a center of the length 142. In another case, the bellowed member 102 may be slightly angled such that a lead surface is located near a center of the length of the bellowed member 102 and each side of the bellowed member 102 is slightly swept back from the lead surface.

[024] In some examples, a bottom 150 of the bellowed member 102 may be secured to one of the other components 112 disposed near the leading edge of the sunroof. The bottom 150 may be secured in a way so that air generally does not pass between the bottom 150 and the component 112 to which it is secured when the vehicle is at speed. A top 152 of the bellowed member 102 may be secured to the cross member 110 such that when the cross member 110 is raised, the bellowed member 102 is moved into the deployed position. The bellowed member 102 may be said to have a height as defined by the bottom 150 and the top 152. Furthermore, ends of the cross member 110 may be in proximity of the two sides of the bellowed member in some cases.

[025] Referring back to Figure 1, one end of the cross member 110 may be coupled to the at least one joint 108, which in turn may be coupled to the at least one support arm 104. The support arm 104 may in one example be pivotally coupled to one of the other components 112 disposed about the sunroof. Further, the lift 106 may in one example be rotatably coupled to the support arm 104. Such an arrangement may be used in examples where the lift 106 is a piston or other hydraulic-like device. In other cases, though, the lift 106 may be another device, such as a spring, for example, that is capable of exerting at least an upward force on the at least one support arm 104. Thus the at least one lift 106 is not necessarily rotatably coupled to the support arm 104.

[026] With reference now to Figure 5, the example sunroof wind deflector 100 is shown in a deployed position 200 as well as in a stowed position 202. It should be understood that Figure 5 overlays the example sunroof wind deflector 100 in the deployed position 200 and the example sunroof wind deflector 100 in the stowed position 202. Likewise, it should be understood that the example sunroof wind deflector 100 of Figure 5 includes some

components that are slightly different than those shown in Figure 1. For example, the sunroof wind deflector 100 of Figure 5 includes a joint 204 and a cross member 206 that are slightly different than, respectively, the joint 108 and the cross member 110 shown in Figure 1.

[027] Notwithstanding, Figure 5 illustrates how on one hand the bellowed member 102 collapses when the sunroof is closed. In some examples, the bellowed member 102 is stowed above a front portion 208 of the sunroof but beneath a panel of glass (not shown). On the other hand, Figure 5 also illustrates the position of the example sunroof wind deflector 100 when in the deployed position 200. As the sunroof is opened and the sunroof wind deflector 100 is deployed, the lift 106 pivots the support arm 104 upwards. The support arm 104, acting through the joint 204, causes the cross member 206 to move upwards, which in turn causes the bellowed member 102 to expand upwards. As the bellowed member 102 is stretched upwards, the pleats 140 that form the channels 144 are exposed and begin to redirect air striking the bellowed member 102 out past the sides of the sunroof. In some examples, when the sunroof is closed the glass panel or a member affixed to the glass panel forces the support arm 104 downwards. This downward force overcomes the force provided by the lift 106 and causes the sunroof wind deflector to be returned to the stowed position 202. In other cases, however, the lift 106 may also be capable of moving the support arm 104 downwards as well.

[028] Figure 6 shows an example of a sunroof wind deflector 300, and in particular a bellowed member 302, that has been installed on a vehicle. The sunroof wind deflector 300 is in a deployed position and includes a seal 304 that may be included in some examples. The seal 304 prevents air from passing underneath the bellowed member 302, or at least reduces the amount of air that passes underneath the bellowed member 302. As described above, a plurality of pleats 306 that form channels 308 cause much of the air that strikes the bellowed member 302 to be displaced laterally as opposed to up and over the sunroof wind deflector 300.

[029] Although certain example methods and apparatus have been described herein, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all methods, apparatus, and articles of manufacture fairly falling within the scope of the appended claims either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.