Michigan Patent of the Month – June 2021

The steering column in a vehicle is usually designed to collapse or respond to a crash in a way that will reduce potential harm to the driver. The typical design uses two jackets that are able to retract and extend to readjust the position of the steering wheel. You probably take advantage of this in your own vehicle, moving the steering wheel closer or further to suit your height more. The system is also designed with energy absorbing straps which absorb the energy of a crash as the steering column collapses. Steering Solutions IP Holding Corp. has recently designed a new telescopic steering column that will better absorb this energy. 

The redesigned steering column takes autonomous driving into account. The steering column can shift between a “stowed” or usable state, where the steering column is stowed away during autonomous driving. This should increase occupant comfort and keep the wheel out of the way. The system also works without this stowed state, for non-autonomous vehicles. 

The column is designed with a three jacket system as well as an energy absorption assembly to make it collapsible. When it meets a strong enough force (ie. a crash), the energy absorption assembly is activated, moving into a collapsed state. This means the energy absorbing strap deforms as a mid jacket moves to cover the lower jacket. At the same time, the upper jacket also collapses. This design offers better adjustability as well as an improved collapsing feature.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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