Title:
School bus underseat storage container and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container for installation under a vehicle seat, such as a bus seat is for storing articles restrained from movement during transport, and then easily removed by the user prior to exiting the bus. The container has a generally flat bottom panel, upstanding side panels, and a back panel extending generally normal to the bottom panel. A retainer ridge extends from the bottom panel across the front of the container, the retainer ridge being positioned generally parallel with the rear plane seat. In one embodiment, the forward portion of the container is raised off the floor of the bus and the bottom of the unit slopes downwardly in a direction toward the rear of the vehicle, and the bottom of the container has a plurality of perforations in order to permit dirt and small debris to fall therethrough. In alternate embodiments, either or both of the sides and back of the container may also be perforated.



Inventors:
Deloach, Vera A. (Sanford, FL, US)
Giardino, Allison M. (Lake Mary, FL, US)
Marrinson, Nicholas (Altamonte Springs, FL, US)
Ohbayashi, Amanda M. (Lake Mary, FL, US)
Walker, Heather D. (Sanford, FL, US)
Application Number:
09/782670
Publication Date:
12/13/2001
Filing Date:
02/12/2001
Assignee:
DELOACH VERA A.
GIARDINO ALLISON M.
MARRINSON NICHOLAS
OHBAYASHI AMANDA M.
WALKER HEATHER D.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/62; B60R7/04; (IPC1-7): A47C7/62
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060181123Transferable baby seatAugust, 2006Gibree
20090315378SWITCHING MECHANISMS OF VEHICLE SEATSDecember, 2009Kumazaki et al.
20020074847Covering for protecting users of motor vehicle seat beltsJune, 2002Terpselas
20020125745Foldable easychairSeptember, 2002Lee
20030214162Arm support coverNovember, 2003Romano et al.
20060220425Stowable table assembly with a tabletop locking mechanismOctober, 2006Becker et al.
20070096521Cadhesive No.2005May, 2007Williams-johnson
20050067861Wheelchair with book-style folding featureMarch, 2005Avihod
20100007186TENSION INDICATORJanuary, 2010Strong et al.
20030042768Chair material storing deviceMarch, 2003Koehn
20050173958Mechanical device particularly for moving the seat and backrest of a chairAugust, 2005De Martin



Primary Examiner:
CURINGTON, STEPHANIE H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Allen, Dyer, Doppelt, Milbrath & Gilchrist, P.A. (255 South Orange Avenue, Suite 1401 P.O. Box 3791, Orlando, FL, 32802-3791, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A method for storing an article under a seat of a vehicle comprising the steps of: attaching a container under a vehicle seat, the container comprising: a generally flat bottom panel; a pair of generally opposed upstanding side panels generally normal to the bottom panel; a back panel extending generally normal to the bottom panel; and a retainer ridge extending upwardly from a rear edge of the bottom panel and between the side panels; placing an article into the container, the retainer ridge inhibiting the article from falling out during vehicle movement.

2. The method recited in claim 1, wherein the attaching step comprises fastening the bottom panel to a floor of the vehicle under the seat.

3. The method recited in claim 2, wherein the bottom panel has a plurality of holes therein for extending fasteners therethrough.

4. The method recited in claim 1, wherein the attaching step comprises fastening the container to at least two legs of the seat.

5. The method recited in claim 1, wherein the attaching step comprises fastening the container to an underside of the seat.

6. The method recited in claim 1, wherein the side panels slope downward toward the bottom panel front edge.

7. The method recited in claim 1, wherein the side panels each have a plurality of generally vertically extending ribs positioned in spaced relation therealong.

8. The method recited in claim 1, wherein: the attaching step comprises fastening the container to the seat in spaced relation from a floor of the vehicle; a top edge of each side panel is positioned generally adjacent a bottom of the seat; the bottom panel slopes downwardly from a front of the seat to a rear of the seat.

9. The method recited in claim 8, wherein the bottom panel has a plurality of perforations therein.

10. The method recited in claim 8, wherein the side panels have a plurality of perforations therein.

11. The method recited in claim 1, wherein the container comprises a unitary member.

12. The method recited in claim 11, wherein the unitary member comprises a molded plastic.

13. A method for storing an article under a seat of a vehicle, the seat having a pair of front legs and a pair of rear legs, the method comprising the steps of: affixing a generally flat bottom panel under a vehicle seat; affixing a plurality of elongated members between each front leg and rear leg of the seat in generally horizontal fashion; affixing a plurality of elongated members between the front legs in generally horizontal fashion; affixing a retaining member between the rear legs in generally horizontal fashion, the retaining member closer to the bottom panel than a bottom of the seat; and placing an article into a space formed by the elongated members and the retaining member, the retaining member inhibiting the article from falling out during vehicle movement.

14. The method recited in claim 13, wherein the elongated members and the retaining members comprise metal bars.

15. The method recited in claim 13, wherein an upper surface of the bottom panel comprises a material having frictional properties for preventing article slippage.

16. A bus seat comprising: a seat member having a bottom, a pair of front legs, and a pair of rear legs; and an article container affixed beneath the seat member in a space formed by the front legs, the rear legs, and a floor of the bus, the container comprising: a generally flat bottom panel; a pair of generally opposed upstanding side panels generally normal to the bottom panel; a back panel extending generally normal to the bottom panel; and a retainer ridge extending upwardly from a rear edge of the bottom panel and between the side panels.

17. The bus seat recited in claim 16, wherein the bottom panel is fastened to the bus floor beneath the seat.

18. The bus seat recited in claim 17, wherein the bottom panel has a plurality of holes therein for extending fasteners therethrough.

19. The bus seat recited in claim 16, wherein the container is fastened to at least two legs of the seat.

20. The bus seat recited in claim 16, wherein the container is fastened to an underside of the seat.

21. The bus seat recited in claim 16, wherein the side panels slope downward toward the bottom panel rear edge.

22. The bus seat recited in claim 16, wherein the side panels each have a plurality of generally vertically extending ribs positioned in spaced relation therealong.

23. The bus seat recited in claim 16, wherein: the container is fastened to the seat in spaced relation from the vehicle floor; a top edge of each side panel is positioned generally adjacent a bottom of the seat; the bottom panel slopes downwardly from a front of the seat to a rear of the seat.

24. The bus seat recited in claim 23, wherein the bottom panel has a plurality of perforations therein.

25. The bus seat recited in claim 23, wherein the side panels have a plurality of perforations therein.

26. The bus seat recited in claim 16, wherein the container comprises a unitary member.

27. The bus seat recited in claim 26, wherein the unitary member comprises a molded plastic.

28. A bus seat comprising: a seat member having a bottom, a pair of front legs, and a pair of rear legs; and an article container comprising: a generally flat bottom panel under the seat member; a plurality of elongated side members affixed between each front leg and rear leg of the seat in generally horizontal fashion; a plurality of elongated front members affixed between the front legs in generally horizontal fashion; a retaining member affixed between the rear legs in generally horizontal fashion, the retaining member closer to the bottom panel than a top of the rear legs.

29. The bus seat recited in claim 28, wherein an upper surface of the bottom panel comprises a material having frictional properties for preventing article slippage.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority from provisional application 60/182,131, filed on Feb. 12, 2000.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention is directed to a storage container and associated methods, the container adapted for use under a seat of a vehicle, and more particularly, to such a container for use under a school bus seat.

[0004] 2. Related Art

[0005] There are a variety of constructions for storage containers, racks, and bins disclosed in the prior art. Most prior art constructions are not suitable for specific use as an underseat storage containers for school buses.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a container for holding articles under the seat of a vehicle.

[0007] It is a further object to provide such a container that provides easy access from a rear thereof.

[0008] It is another object to provide such a container that is affixable to a floor of the vehicle.

[0009] It is an additional object to provide a method of affixing such a container beneath a vehicle seat.

[0010] It is also an object to provide a method for storing an article beneath a vehicle seat.

[0011] The present invention is directed to several embodiments of a container specifically adapted to be installed under a vehicle seat, such as a bus seat, in a facile manner, so that articles such as books, book bags, backpacks, lunch pails, brief cases, and the like may be rapidly stored in the container by a user such as a student, restrained from movement during transport, and then easily removed by the user prior to exiting the bus. It will be understood by one of skill in the art that other embodiments may be contemplated for use in vehicles having seats with spaces thereunder, such as by commuters on trains or vans.

[0012] The various embodiments of an underseat storage container of the present invention include a container member comprising a generally flat bottom panel, upstanding side panels, and a back panel extending generally normal to the bottom panel with means for attaching the container member to the floor of the interior of a school bus body underneath an adjacent seat and/or to the seat itself. Each embodiment further comprises a retainer ridge extending from the bottom panel across the front of the container member, the retainer ridge being positioned generally parallel with the rear plane of the school bus seat such that a student who has stored an article in the container may reach down across the retainer ridge and withdraw the stored article without difficulty.

[0013] In one specific embodiment, the storage container resembles an open-top rectangular construction that creates an enclosure to secure a carry-on item. When mounted beneath the bus seat, the container has a rearwardly facing open side that allows the student to store a personal item beneath the seat immediately in front of him/her to be held in place while the bus is in motion. In the event of an accident, the container prevents stored items from moving and injuring passengers, and also keeps aisles clear during normal operation to improve ingress/egress, especially during an emergency. The presence of the container beneath the bus seat also prevents small children from crawling into this space or becoming trapped beneath a seat during an accident.

[0014] In a second embodiment, the container is modified in dimension and mounting so that the bottom surface does not completely rest on the floor of the bus; that is, with the top of the unit mounted flush with the underside of the bus seat, the forward portion of the container is raised off the floor of the bus and the bottom of the unit slopes downwardly in a direction toward the rear of the bus. In this embodiment, the bottom of the container has a plurality of perforations in order to permit dirt and small debris to fall therethrough. In alternate embodiments, either or both of the sides and back of the container may also be perforated.

[0015] In a third embodiment of the container, a substantially rigid material such as, but not intended to be limited to, metal or plastic sheeting or bars, is attached to the legs of the bus seat and the bus frame so as to enclose the front and aisle sides of the space beneath the bus seat to create a storage space. A material having a frictional surface is attached to the bus floor underneath the seat for inhibiting slippage of belongings placed thereon.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0016] FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a first embodiment of an underseat storage container in accordance with the present invention.

[0017] FIGS. 2-4 are side, front, and rear views, respectively, of a second embodiment of an underseat storage container.

[0018] FIG. 5 is a version of an underseat storage container similar to that shown in FIGS. 2-4, except that the bottom, sides, and back of the container are fabricated from a solid material.

[0019] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the storage container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0020] The invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1-6.

[0021] In FIG. 1 is shown a first embodiment of an underseat storage container 110 in accordance with the present invention. The container 110 includes a bottom panel 112 having dimples or similar weakened areas 114 that permit fasteners 116 to be extended therethrough for attachment of the container 110 to a floor 92 of a school bus beneath a seat 90. Alternatively, fasteners may be extended through the back or side panels 118, 120, and 124, respectively, in order to attach those panels to a stanchion for an adjacent school bus seat (note FIG. 2).

[0022] The container 110 includes the back panel 118 and opposing side panels 120,124, each of which has a downwardly sloping edge 122,126 respectively, and plural stiffening ribs 128 extending vertically along each side. The container 110 also includes a forward retaining ridge 130 that extends from a rear edge 131 of the bottom panel 112 and between the opposing side panels 120,124.

[0023] A second embodiment of a container 210 (FIGS. 2-4) includes a bottom panel 212, a back panel 218, and opposing side panels 220,224. A retaining ridge 230 extends between the side panels 224 (note FIG. 3). As is depicted in FIG. 2, the bottom panel 212 of the container 210 slopes downwardly from the back panel 218 toward the retaining ridge 230. In a particular embodiment the bottom panel 212 comprises a material having openings 213 therein, such as in egg crate material, for example. In this arrangement, the container 210 may be attached to either the bus seat stanchions or to the bottom of the bus seat, in order that the perforated bottom panel 212 is positioned in spaced relation from the floor 91 of the bus, in order that trash and similar materials may fall through the perforations 213 for subsequent removal.

[0024] Another embodiment of a container 310 (FIG. 5) has a shape substantially the same as that shown in FIGS. 2-4, except that the container 310 is fabricated of a sheet material, such as a molded plastic. It will of course be appreciated by those skilled in the art that embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-5 may be fabricated from a variety of different suitable materials, such as, but not intended to be limited to, a plastic or metal.

[0025] This container 310 has a bottom panel 312, also sloping downwardly from a back panel 318. Side panels 322,324 extend from the back panel 318 to a retaining ridge 330.

[0026] A third embodiment of the container 410 (FIG. 6) is formed from generally horizontal bars attached along one side and the front of the space underneath the seat 90, as viewed from behind the seat 90. The container 410 is formed of a bottom panel 412 of a suitable material, preferably comprising a material on an upper surface having frictional properties to prevent article slippage. Plural side bars 424 extend between front 94 and rear 96 stanchions of the school bus seat 90. Similar bars 418 is extended across the front of the space forming the container 410, with a rearward retainer ridge bar 430 at a lower level adjacent the floor 92, to permit easy access to the storage space under the seat 90.

[0027] It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the present invention may be fabricated in a variety of different shapes and materials but remain within the scope of the present invention to the extent that a construction is used for creating a storage rack underneath a vehicle seat for carry-on items, in order to prevent movement of those items during transport, and to be easily removed once the bus has arrived at its destination.