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Title:
ELECTRONIC PATH ENTERING FOR AUTONOMOUS OR SEMI-AUTONOMOUS TRAILER BACKING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/003866
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A method of controlling a backing system for a vehicle and trailer assembly comprises initiating a path input mode on an electronic input device associated with an electronic control unit in the vehicle. An intended backing path is input into the electronic control unit by defining the intended backing path with an input control mechanism for the electronic input device. The path input mode on the electronic input device is ended.

Application Number:
PCT/US2012/048098
Publication Date:
January 03, 2013
Filing Date:
July 25, 2012
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS (US)
MCCLAIN JEREMY (US)
PALAZZOLO JILL (US)
International Classes:
B62D13/06; B62D15/02
Foreign References:
DE102009012253A12010-09-09
GB2398048A2004-08-11
DE102005043466A12007-03-15
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MACKIEWICZ, Christine, M. (Auburn Hills, MI, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1 . A method of controlling a backing system for a vehicle and trailer assembly comprising:

initiating a path input mode on a electronic input device associated with an electronic control unit for a backing system;

inputting an intended backing path by defining the intended backing path with an input control mechanism for the electronic input device; and

ending the path input mode on the electronic input device.

2. The method of claim 1 , further comprising instructing at least one vehicle system with the electronic control unit to move the vehicle and trailer assembly along the intended backing path to a final vehicle and trailer assembly position.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the steps of initiating the path input mode, inputting the intended backing path, ending the path input mode, and instructing the least one vehicle system are repeated for each leg of the intended backing path prior to moving the vehicle and trailer assembly on a successive leg of the intended backing path.

4. The method of claim 1 , wherein inputting an intended backing path with the input control mechanism further comprises using one of a joystick, a roller ball, a knob, a slide device, at least one physical button, at least one touch screen button, a handheld electronic device, and voice control inputs to define the intended backing path.

5. The method of claim 1 , wherein inputting the intended backing path further comprises controlling a locator on a display screen of the electronic input device with the input control mechanism to move the locator over the display screen thereby defining each leg of the intended backing path.

6. The method of claim 1 , wherein inputting the intended backing path further comprises entering each leg of the intended backing path prior to inputting a successive leg of the intended backing path.

7. A method of controlling a backing system for a vehicle and trailer assembly comprising:

initiating a path input mode with a voice command to an electronic input device associated with a control unit for a backing system;

inputting an intended backing path by voice command instructions input to the electronic input device; and

ending the path input mode with a voice command to the electronic input device.

8. The method of claim 7, further comprising instructing at least one vehicle system with the electronic control unit to move the vehicle and trailer assembly along the intended backing path to a final vehicle and trailer assembly position 9. The method of claim 7, wherein inputting an intended backing path according to voice command instructions further comprises a separate voice command for each leg of the intended backing path.

10. The method of claim 7, wherein inputting an intended backing path according to voice command instructions further comprises utilizing a relative direction and a distance input for each leg of the backing path.

1 1 . The method of claim 7, wherein inputting an intended backing path according to voice command instructions further comprises directing an on-screen locator with the voice commands to define each leg of the backing path.

12. A method of controlling a backing system for a vehicle and trailer assembly comprising:

initiating a path input mode on a electronic input device associated with a control unit for a backing system;

inputting an intended backing path into a handheld electronic device by moving the handheld electronic device over each leg of the intended backing path;

inputting the intended backing path into an electronic input device from the handheld electronic device; and

ending the path input mode on the electronic input device.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising instructing at least one vehicle system with the electronic control unit to move the vehicle and trailer assembly along the intended backing path to a final vehicle and trailer assembly position.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising confirming an operator is in a driver seat for the vehicle prior to instructing the at least one vehicle system with the electronic control unit to move the vehicle and trailer assembly.

15. The method of claim 12, wherein inputting an intended backing path into the electronic input device from the handheld electronic device further comprises electronically connecting the handheld electronic device to the electronic input device with a wireless connection. 16. The method of claim 12, wherein ending the path input mode occurs prior to inputting the intended backing path into an electronic input device from the handheld electronic device.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein inputting an intended backing path into the electronic input device from the handheld electronic device further comprises electronically connecting the handheld electronic device to the electronic input device with a wired connection between the handheld electronic device and the electronic input device.

Description:
ELECTRONIC PATH ENTERING FOR AUTONOMOUS OR SEMI-AUTONOMOUS

TRAILER BACKING

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present disclosure relates to automotive vehicles and more particularly to advance driver assistance systems for automotive vehicles.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Backing of trailers attached to vehicles often requires multiple persons to effectively control the vehicle and direct the path the vehicle and trailer are required to travel. Additionally, those unaccustomed to operating vehicle and trailer systems may have some difficulty in accurately controlling the path of the trailer, particularly when backing the vehicle and trailer.

[0003] The background description provided herein is for the purpose of generally presenting the context of the disclosure. Work of the presently named inventors, to the extent it is described in this background section, as well as aspects of the description that may not otherwise qualify as prior art at the time of filing, are neither expressly nor impliedly admitted as prior art against the present disclosure.

SUMMARY

[0004] A method of controlling a backing system for a vehicle and trailer assembly comprises initiating a path input mode on an electronic input device associated with an electronic control unit for a trailer backing system. An intended backing path is input into the electronic input device by defining the intended backing path with an input control mechanism for the electronic input device. The path input mode on the electronic input device is ended. [0005] A method of controlling a backing system for a vehicle and trailer assembly comprises initiating a path input mode with a voice command to an electronic input device associated with an electronic control unit for a trailer backing system. An intended backing path is input into the electronic input device by voice command instructions. The path input mode on the electronic input device is ended with a voice command.

[0006] A method of controlling a backing system for a vehicle and trailer assembly comprises initiating a path input mode on an electronic input device associated with an electronic control unit for a trailer backing system. An intended backing path is input into a handheld electronic device by moving the handheld electronic device over the intended backing path. The intended backing path is input into the electronic input device from the handheld electronic device. The path input mode on the electronic input device is ended.

[0007] Further areas of applicability of the present disclosure will become apparent from the detailed description provided hereinafter. It should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples, while indicating the preferred embodiment of the disclosure, are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The present disclosure will become more fully understood from the detailed description and the accompanying drawings, wherein: [0009] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a first embodiment of a vehicle and trailer assembly having a trailer backing system of the present invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a method of utilizing the trailer backing system of Figure 1 ;

[0011] FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a second embodiment of a vehicle and trailer assembly having a trailer backing system of the present invention;

[0012] FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of an input device for the second embodiment of the trailer backing system of the present invention;

[0013] FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration of a method of utilizing the trailer backing system of Figure 3;

[0014] FIG. 6 a schematic diagram of a third embodiment of a vehicle and trailer assembly having a trailer backing system of the present invention; and

[0015] FIG. 7 is a schematic illustration of a method of utilizing the trailer backing system of Figure 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0016] The following description is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the disclosure, its application, or uses. For purposes of clarity, the same reference numbers will be used in the drawings to identify similar elements. Figure 1 illustrates a vehicle 10 and a trailer 1 1 . The trailer 1 1 is controllably secured to the vehicle 10 to form a vehicle and trailer assembly 12. The vehicle and trailer assembly 12 utilizes a trailer backing program 14 of the present invention. Throughout the application the relative directions of forward and rear are in reference to the direction which an operator for the vehicle 10 would be facing when operating the vehicle 10 in a drive gear. Therefore, in operation of the trailer backing program 14 the vehicle 10 would be in a reverse gear and the operator may be facing backward. The trailer backing program 14 provides the vehicle operator with a method of electronically defining an intended backing path 18 of the vehicle and trailer assembly 12. The trailer backing program 14 utilizes the intended backing path 18 to control movement of vehicle and trailer assembly 12.

[0017] Referring to Figure 1 , a first embodiment for utilizing the trailer backing program 14 is described. An electronic input device 16 is electronically connected to the vehicle 1 0 and the trailer backing program 14. The trailing backing program 14 includes a control unit 22 within the vehicle 10. The control unit 22 may be connected to at least one vehicle system 24 such as a powertrain system, a steering system and/or a brake system to control and direct movement of the vehicle and trailer assembly 12. The control unit 22 sends instructions to the vehicle systems 24 to move the vehicle and trailer assembly 12 along the intended backing path 18 to a final location 20. The steering, braking, and other controls are calculated by the control unit 22 based upon the intended backing path 18 input by the vehicle operator.

[0018] The electronic input device 1 6 includes an input control mechanism 26 and a display screen 28. The electronic input device 16 may be incorporated into the vehicle 1 0. For example, the electronic input device 16 may include a control panel and display screen 28 already within the vehicle 10, e.g. part of a navigation system or entertainment unit, or may be a separate device, such as a hand-held navigation system, that is electrically connected to the vehicle 10. The electronic input device 16 may also be partially incorporated into the vehicle 10 such as the display screen 28, but have a separate input control mechanism 26. The input control mechanism 26 may be a joystick, knob, slider device, physical buttons, virtual "touch screen" buttons, handheld electronic device such as a "smart phone" or voice control inputs. The electronic input device 16 may be connected through a wired connection, such as a USB connector, or may be wirelessly linked with the vehicle 10. The input control mechanism 26 may control an on-screen locator 40 on the display screen 28.

[0019] The display screen 28 may illustrate a schematic or image of an area located behind the vehicle and trailer assembly 12. The on-screen locator 40 may be initially positioned at an initial location, e.g. at a rear position of the vehicle and trailer assembly 12. The input control mechanism 26 can be used to define and/or control the vehicle and trailer assembly's intended backing path 1 8 by pressing physical buttons, "touch screen" buttons, or by detecting movement of the input control mechanism 26 and measurement of internal accelerometers and/or gyroscope. This could also be completed by using voice controls or a joystick type device to move the on-screen locator 40 on the display screen 28 to outline the intended backing path 18. Therefore, the input control mechanism 26 can be manipulated to move the on-screen locator 40 on the display screen 28 to outline the intended backing path 1 8. The trailer backing system 14 would determine from the input the actual distances and movements required to direct the vehicle and trailer assembly 12 to follow the intended backing path 18.

[0020] Figure 2 illustrates a first embodiment of a method of using the trailer backing system 14, shown at 29. The path input mode for the trailer backing system 14 is initiated, step 30. A vehicle operator would use the input control mechanism 26 to input an intended backing path 18 for the vehicle and trailer assembly 12 into the electronic input device 16, step 32. The intended backing path 18 would include the suggested backing route and a final parking position 20. The input control mechanism 26 may be utilized to input the intended backing path 1 8 by successively inputting each leg of a suggested route. For example, the input control mechanism 26 may be a joystick or knob that is part of the vehicle navigation and entertainment unit. The input control mechanism 26, e.g. joystick, knob, etc, can be manipulated to move the on-screen locator 40 over each successive leg of the intended backing path 18. The intended backing path 18 would include the suggested backing route and a final parking position 20. The vehicle operator would indicate once the complete backing path is entered by ending the path input mode, step 34. Once the intended backing path 18 is entered into the trailer backing program 14 the vehicle operator would instruct the trailer backing system 14 to follow the intended backing path 18, step 36. The trailer backing system 14 would send instructions to the vehicle systems 24 to direct the vehicle and trailer assembly 12 along the intended backing path 18 to the final position 20, step 38.

[0021] Alternately, the trailer backing system 14 could be designed to work real-time in which the vehicle and trailer assembly 12 follows the intended backing path as the operator manipulates the input control mechanism 26. Each leg of the intended backing path 18 may be entered and the trailer backing system 14 may move the vehicle and trailer assembly 12 to that location prior to entering the next leg of the intended backing path 1 8. This may be accomplished by repeating steps 30-38 for each leg of the backing path 18.

[0022] Figures 3-5 illustrate a second embodiment of a trailer backing system 1 14 for a vehicle 1 10 and trailer 1 1 1 which are connected together to form a vehicle and trailer assembly 1 12. The trailer backing program 1 14 provides the vehicle operator a method of defining the intended backing path 1 18 of the vehicle and trailer assembly 1 12. An electronic input device 1 16 is electronically connected to the vehicle 1 10 and the trailer backing program 1 14. The trailing backing program 1 14 includes a control unit 122 within the vehicle 1 10 connected to at least one vehicle system 124 such as a powertrain system, a steering system and/or a braking system to control and direct movement of the vehicle and trailer assembly 1 12.

[0023] The electronic input device 1 16 includes an input control mechanism 126 and may include a display screen 128. The electronic input device 1 16 may be incorporated into the vehicle 1 10. For example, the electronic input device 1 16 may include a control panel and display screen 1 28 already within the vehicle 1 1 0, e.g. part of a navigation system or entertainment unit, or may be a separate device. The electronic input device 1 1 6 may also be partially incorporated into the vehicle 1 10 such as the display screen 1 28, but have a separate input control mechanism 126. The input control mechanism 126 is preferably a voice control system, shown in Figure 4. The input control mechanism 126 may control an on-screen locator 140 on the display screen 128.

[0024] Figure 4 illustrates an embodiment of an input control mechanism 126 that is a voice control system. The voice control system 126 may be connected to or partially incorporated with other vehicle 1 1 0 devices for performing various vehicle 1 10 functions. The other devices 142a-e that may be electronically connected include, for example, a telephone 142a, a navigation system 142b, an audio system 142c, a CD changer, 144d, or an HVAC system 144e. The voice control system 126 includes an interface 141 , the audio input 146 and an audio output 144 for the vehicle 1 10. The interface 141 converts the audio input 146 from the vehicle operator into an electrical signal that can be used by the trailer backing system 1 14 and/or other devices 142a-e. Additionally, the interface 141 converts the electrical signals from the trailer backing system 1 14 and other devices 142a-e to an audio output 144 for the vehicle operator.

[0025] Referring to Figures 3-5, a second embodiment of a method of using the trailer backing system 1 14 is shown at 129. A vehicle operator would use the voice controlled input control mechanism 1 26 to input an intended backing path 1 18 for the vehicle and trailer assembly 1 12. The path input mode for the trailer backing system 1 14 is initiated, step 1 30. From within the passenger compartment a vehicle operator would use the voice controlled input control mechanism 1 26 to input an intended backing bath 1 1 8 for the vehicle and trailer assembly 1 1 2, step 1 32. Simple directions and distances may be used for voice input of the intended path 1 18, e.g. "back 10 feet", "stop", "turn right 90 degrees", "final position". The "onscreen" locator 140 may move to illustrate the position of the vehicle and trailer assembly 1 12 while also following the voice instruction from the vehicle operator in real time.

[0026] The vehicle and trailer assembly 1 1 2 would follow each instruction as spoken and recorded by the input device 142. After the instruction from the vehicle operator is complete the path input mode is ended, step 134. After each step is entered into the trailer backing program 1 14 the trailer backing system 1 14 follows the instructions along the intended backing path 1 18, step 136. The trailer backing system 1 14 would send instructions to the vehicle system 124 to direct the vehicle and trailer assembly 1 12 along the intended backing path 1 18, step 138. By repeating the steps 130-138 the vehicle and trailer assembly 1 12 may be moved to a desired final parking position 120.

[0027] Figures 6 and 7 illustrates a third embodiment of a trailer backing system 214 for a vehicle 210 and trailer 212 which are connected together to form a vehicle and trailer assembly 214. The trailer backing program 214 provides the vehicle operator a method of defining an intended backing path 218 of the vehicle and trailer assembly 212.

[0028] An electronic input device 216 is connected to the vehicle 210 and the trailer backing program 214. The trailing backing program 214 includes a control unit 222 within the vehicle 210 connected to at least one vehicle system 224 such as a powertrain system, a steering system and/or a braking system to control and direct movement of the vehicle and trailer assembly 212.

[0029] The electronic input device 216 includes an input control mechanism 226 and a display screen 228. The electronic input device 216 may be incorporated into the vehicle 210. The electronic input device 216 may be partially incorporated into the vehicle 210 such as the display screen 228, but has a separate input control mechanism 226. For example, the electronic input device 216 may include a control panel and display screen 228 already within the vehicle 21 0, e.g. part of a navigation system or entertainment unit. The input control mechanism 226 is a handheld electronic device and may alternatively include the display screen 228. The handheld electronic device 226 may be a smart phone, a PDA, a handheld GPS, a key-fob, etc.

[0030] The handheld electronic device 226 may control an on-screen locator 240 on the display screen 228. The handheld electronic device 226 may be connected through a wired connection, such as a USB connector, or may be wirelessly linked with the electronic input device 216.

[0031] A control unit 222 within the vehicle 210 may be connected to at least one vehicle system 224 such as a powertrain system, a steering system and/or a braking system to control and direct movement of the vehicle and trailer assembly 212. The trailer backing system 214 could be designed to work real-time in which the vehicle and trailer assembly 212 follows the handheld electronic device 226 while the operator is walking the path 218. Alternatively, the trailer backing system 214 could be designed to work only after the path 218 has been mapped completely; allowing the person to first return to the vehicle 210.

[0032] Figure 7 illustrates a third embodiment of a method of utilizing the trailer backing system 214 of Figure 6. A vehicle operator or passenger exits the vehicle 210 with the handheld electronic device 226 in hand. When arriving at the back of the trailer 212, the operator initiates the path input mode on the handheld electronic device 226, step 230 and proceeds to walk the intended backing path 218, step 232. When the operator arrives at the desired final parking position 220 for the back of the trailer, the path input mode is ended, step 234.

[0033] Once the intended backing path 21 8 is entered into the trailer backing program 214 the vehicle operator would instruct the trailer backing system 214 to follow the intended backing path 218, step 236. The trailer backing system 214 sends instructions to the vehicle system 224 to direct the vehicle and trailer assembly 21 2 along the intended backing path 218 to the final parking position 220, step 238. The trailer backing system 214 autonomously (driver not behind the wheel) or semi-autonomously (driver behind the wheel) controls the lateral and longitudinal motion of the vehicle and trailer assembly 212 to follow the path 218 which was mapped out by the handheld electronic device 226.

[0034] While the best modes for carrying out the invention have been described in detail the true scope of the disclosure should not be so limited, since those familiar with the art to which this invention relates will recognize various alternative designs and embodiments for practicing the invention within the scope of the appended claims.