GM has filed a patent application for a new restraint system that uses gyroscopic seats to improve passenger safety, with potential applications for autonomous vehicles. The new GM patent application has been assigned patent number US 2024/0001825 A1 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and was published on January 4th, 2024. The patent application was originally filed on July 1st, 2022, and lists Tyler P. Morris (Michigan), Ryan Aaron Gellner (Michigan), and Nick Colonna (Canada) as the inventors.
The patent describes a vehicle restraint system that includes a gyroscopic seat with an inner shell and outer shell. The seats incorporate a slip device that is mounted in between the inner shell and the outer shell, with the outer shell mounted to the vehicle, supporting the inner shell, and the inner shell supporting the passenger. The slip device is designed to allow relative movement between the outer shell and inner shell that reduces the transfer of impulse received by the outer shell to the inner shell, potentially enhancing safety for the passenger.
The patent application states that this new seat design would be particularly useful in an autonomous vehicle. As the patent points out, passengers in autonomous vehicles would not be burdened by the task of driving, and as such, they would be free to engage in other activities, such as socializing with other passengers. To this end, seat assemblies may be introduced that allow passengers to swivel around in the cabin in order to face other passengers for the purpose of socialization.
However, with swiveling passenger seats comes the added difficulty of designing a seat restraint system capable of protecting passengers from an impact when the seat is rotated.
“Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a seat assembly which is able to absorb impact energy from any angle,” the application states.