Title:
ARTICULATED SPACECRAFT SEAT AND STRETCHER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A seat assembly (10) that is fully adjustable between a maximum seat configuration a minimum seat configuration and a stretcher configuration. The seat assembly (10) has a frame (11) that supports multiple panel elements (12) that are slidably adjustable with respect to each adjoining panel in order to adjust the size and position of various elements of the seat. The seat has an upper back panel (14) and a lower back panel (16) slidably engaged to each other to define the seat back, a rear seat panel (20) and a front seat panel (22) slidably engaged with each other to define a seat bottom and a lower leg panel (26) and a footrest (24) that are slidably engaged with each other. The seat bottom (20), the lower leg panel (26) and the footrest (24) are hinged to fully extend the seat into a stretcher configuration.



Inventors:
Barackman, Victor J. (Chula Vista, CA, US)
Simon, Xavier D. (Huntington Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/906482
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
02/22/2005
Assignee:
The Boeing Company (Chicago, IL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/46
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030160487Collapsible open top swing with leg axis offset from swing axisAugust, 2003Flannery et al.
20020195868Vehicle seat having baby fastening deviceDecember, 2002Tsai
20050189805Lower anchor and tethers for children (latch) detection and measurement deviceSeptember, 2005Burley et al.
20080136232HEAD REST AND HARNESS ADJUSTMENT FOR CHILD CAR SEATJune, 2008Hutchinson et al.
20070200409FORWARD FOLDING SEAT ASSEMBLYAugust, 2007Ahrens et al.



Primary Examiner:
WILSON, KAITLIN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OSTRAGER CHONG FLAHERTY & BROITMAN PC (250 PARK AVENUE, SUITE 825, NEW YORK, NY, 10177, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A vehicle seat having at least a minimum and at most a maximum size configuration comprising: a frame assembly a lower back panel in fixed attachment to the frame assembly; an upper back panel in slidable engagement to the lower back panel and frame assembly and having a locking mechanism with respect to the lower back panel; a rear bottom seat panel in a fixed and hinged attachment to the frame assembly; a front bottom seat panel in slidable engagement to the rear seat panel and frame assembly and having a locking mechanism with respect to the rear bottom seat panel; a lower leg panel in hinged attachment to the front bottom seat panel; a footrest having an upper portion in slidable engagement to the lower leg panel and having a locking mechanism with respect to the lower leg panel, the footrest having a lower portion in hinged attachment to the upper portion of the footrest; and wherein the upper back panel can be slid between a maximum size configuration and minimum size configuration with respect to the lower back panel and locked in a fixed position thereto anywhere in between and including the maximum and minimum size configurations, the front seat panel being slidable between a maximum size configuration and a minimum size configuration with respect to the rear seat panel and locked in a fixed position thereto anywhere in between and including the maximum and minimum size configurations, and the upper portion of the footrest being slidable between a maximum size configuration and minimum size configuration with respect to the lower leg panel and locked in a fixed position thereto anywhere in between and including the maximum and minimum size configurations.

2. The vehicle seat as claimed in claim 1 wherein the frame assembly further comprises at least two members positioned opposite each other and enclosing each of the back panels and each of the seat bottom panels therebetween.

3. The vehicle seat as claimed in claim 2 further comprising: first and second armrests in adjustable engagement with a respective member of the frame assembly, the adjustability of each armrest being in a vertical position with respect to the respective frame member.

4. The vehicle seat as claimed in claim 3 wherein the first and second armrests can be folded up in alignment with the respective frame member.

5. The vehicle seat as claimed in claim 4 wherein the first and second armrests are removable from the respective frame member.

6. The vehicle seat as claimed in claim 5 further comprising a folded configuration comprising: the lower portion of the footrest folded onto the upper portion of the footrest; the upper portion of the footrest in the minimum size configuration with respect to the lower leg panel; the front bottom seat panel in the minimum size configuration with respect to the rear bottom seat panel; the lower leg panel folded onto the rear bottom seat panel; the upper seat back panel in the minimum size configuration with respect to the lower seat back panel; and the rear bottom seat panel folded up against the upper and lower seat back panels.

7. The vehicle seat as claimed in claim 5 further comprising a stretcher configuration comprising: the lower portion of the footrest hinged perpendicular to the upper portion of the footrest; the upper portion of the footrest in a predetermined size configuration with respect to the lower leg panel; the front bottom seat panel in a predetermined size configuration with respect to the rear bottom seat panel; the lower leg panel hinged in alignment with the rear bottom seat panel; the upper seat back panel in a predetermined size configuration with respect to the lower seat back panel; and the rear bottom seat panel hinged in alignment with the upper and lower seat back panels.

8. A spacecraft seat comprising: a frame; a plurality of interdisposed panels in slidable relation to each other that define a seat back, a seat bottom, and a leg rest; and a lockable hinge disposed between the leg rest and the seat bottom; and a lockable hinge disposed between the seat bottom and the frame.

9. The seat as claimed in claim 8 wherein the plurality of interdisposed and slidable panels further comprises: a lower back panel fixed to the frame and having a fixed height dimension; an upper back panel slidably engaged to the lower back panel and to the frame; a rear seat panel having a fixed length dimension; a front seat panel slidably engaged to the rear seat panel and to the frame; a lower leg panel hinged to the front seat panel and having a fixed length dimension; a foot rest having upper and lower portions, the upper portion of the footrest being slidably engaged to the lower leg panel and the lower portion of the footrest hinged to the upper portion of the footrest; and means for locking the slidably engaged panels relative to the panels having fixed dimensions.

10. The seat as claimed in claim 9 wherein the frame further comprises: a first L-shaped frame member; a second L-shaped frame member; and the first and second L-shaped frame members being disposed on either side of the plurality of slidably engaged panels.

11. The seat as claimed in claim 10 further comprising: first and second removable armrests attached to the first and second L-shaped frame members respectively.

12. The seat as claimed in claim 11 further comprising a headrest attached to the upper back panel.

13. The seat as claimed in claim 12 wherein the seat is adjustable anywhere in between a maximum size configuration and a minimum size configuration by locking the slidably engaged panels in a desired position.

14. The seat as claimed in claim 13 wherein the maximum size configuration further comprises: the upper back panel fully extended along its slidable engagement to the lower back panel and locked in place; the front seat panel fully extended along its slidable engagement to the rear seat panel and locked in place; the upper portion of the footrest fully extended along its slidable engagement to the lower leg panel and locked in place.

15. The seat as claimed in claim 13 wherein the seat assembly further comprises a stretcher configuration.

16. The seat as claimed in claim 15 wherein the stretcher configuration further comprises: the rear seat panel hinged in alignment with the upper and lower back panels and locked in place; the lower leg panel hinged in alignment with the upper and lower back panels and the rear seat panel and locked in place.

17. The seat as claimed in claim 13 wherein the minimum size configuration further comprises: the upper back panel fully retracted and engaged along its slidable engagement to the lower back panel and locked in place; the front seat panel fully retracted and engaged along its slidable engagement to the rear seat panel and locked in place; the upper portion of the footrest fully retracted and engaged along its slidable engagement to the lower leg panel and locked in place.

18. The seat as claimed in claim 17 wherein the minimum size configuration further comprises a folded configuration.

19. The seat as claimed in claim 18 wherein the folded configuration further comprises: the lower portion of the footrest being folded upon the upper portion of the footrest; the lower leg panel being folded upon the rear seat panel; the rear seat panel being folded upon the upper and lower back panels; and the first and second armrests removed from the first and second frame members.

20. A vehicle seat assembly that is configured in a plurality of positions anywhere within the range of and including a maximum size configuration, a minimum size configuration, a folded configuration and a stretcher configuration, the seat assembly comprising: a first L-shaped frame member; a second L-shaped frame member; a lower back panel fixed to an upper portion of the first and second L-shaped frame members, lower back panel having a fixed height dimension and being fixed in place relative to the first and second L-shaped frame members; an upper back panel slidably engaged to the lower back panel and fixed in slidable engagement to the frame; a rear seat panel in hinged connection to a bottom portion of the first and second L-shaped frame members, the rear seat panel having a fixed length dimension; a front seat panel slidably engaged to the rear seat bottom panel and to the bottom portions of the first and second L-shaped frame members; a lower leg panel hinged to the front seat bottom panel and having a fixed length dimension; a foot rest having upper and lower portions, the upper portion of the footrest being slidably engaged to the lower leg panel and the lower portion of the footrest hinged to the upper portion of the footrest; means for locking the slidably engaged panels relative to the panels having fixed dimensions to define a size configuration for the seat assembly; wherein a maximum size configuration is defined by the upper back panel fully extended along its slidable engagement to the lower back panel and locked in place; the front seat panel fully extended along its slidable engagement to the rear seat panel and locked in place; the upper portion of the footrest fully extended along its slidable engagement to the lower leg panel and locked in place; wherein a minimum configuration is defined by the upper back panel fully retracted and engaged along its slidable engagement to the lower back panel and locked in place; the front seat panel fully retracted and engaged along its slidable engagement to the rear seat panel and locked in place; the upper portion of the footrest fully retracted and engaged along its slidable engagement to the lower leg panel and locked in place; wherein the folded configuration is defined by the seat being in a minimum size configuration and the lower portion of the footrest being folded upon the upper portion of the footrest; the lower leg panel being folded upon the rear seat panel; the rear seat panel being folded upon the upper and lower back panels; and the first and second armrests removed from the first and second frame members; and wherein the fully extended stretcher configuration is defined by the seat assembly being in its maximum size configuration and the rear seat panel hinged in alignment with the upper and lower back panels and locked in place; the lower leg panel hinged in alignment with the upper and lower back panels and the rear seat panel and locked in place.

Description:

GOVERNMENT CONTRACT

The invention described herein was made in the performance of work under NASA Contract No. NAS8-01099 and is subject to the provisions of Section 305 of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (72 Stat.435:42 U.S.C.2457.)

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to seating for the crew of an aircraft or spacecraft and more particularly to an articulated seat having multiple configurations including a stretcher.

BACKGROUND ART

Advancements in space travel have made manned space flights more realistic for a larger variety of people. In the past, space missions had crewmember sizes that were much more generic. It is no longer true that all of the crewmembers are relatively the same size and weight. In space travel today and as it is expected to change in the future, crewmembers are becoming more varied and people of many shapes and sizes need to be accommodated. Crew seats need to conform to crew sizes ranging from the smallest possible, for example a 5th percentile Japanese female in shirt sleeves, to the largest possible, such as a 95th percentile American male in an inflated space suit.

Crewmember comfort is of course a concern. But other practical considerations in seat design are also a concern. Typically, spacecraft seats are one-size-fits-all without any consideration for the size of the crewmember, the configuration of the seat for take-off, in-flight, and landing situations. Also, there has been a lack of any consideration for a crewmember that may be injured during the space flight mission. So while the crew has become more varied, the missions themselves are also more flexible. There may be a need to change crewmembers during the mission, as when dropping off and picking up crew from a remote location, such as a space station. Furthermore, it may become necessary during the mission to pick up and store additional cargo. Fixed seating configurations may prevent the possibility of storing excess cargo.

There is a need for a crew seat that has the capability of adjusting to several configurations and body sizes for various phases of the space flight and any potential changes during the flight such as changes to the crew, any injuries that may occur to a crewmember during the mission and the flexibility to easily adjust, stow, or remove seats to accommodate extra cargo.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An adjustable seat will provide multiple seat configurations for crewmembers of varying sizes and an articulated seat will adjust for changes in cargo. The seat can be adjusted in size and articulated in configuration such that it is positioned in any one of several different configurations, including a stretcher configuration. The seat allows for varying crew sizes, the size of each of the crewmembers, as well as mission changes, such as cargo transport or emergency return of an injured crewmember. A wide variety of seat sizes and configurations can be accommodated on a single spacecraft during a single flight mission.

The seat has multiple sliding panels that are connected in a movable fashion, such as by a basic tongue-in-groove configuration. The shoulder height, thigh length, calf length and armrest height of the seat are all adjustable by sliding the panels in relation to each other. The seat is capable of being articulated in any configuration from folded for stowing to fully extended for use as a stretcher. The seat is easily removable from the frame and/or the vehicle. The seat can be removed in its folded configuration or in any of its size configurations. Furthermore, the seat can be easily removed with a crewmember in the seat, should the need ever arise for a rescue crew to rapidly remove the crewmember without disturbing the body position of the injured crewmember.

Additional advantages and features of the present invention will become apparent from the description that follows, and may be realized by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order that the invention may be well understood, there will now be described some embodiments thereof, given by way of example, reference being made to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the seat in a maximum size configuration.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the seat in a minimum size configuration.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the seat in a folded, stowed configuration.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the seat in a fully extended configuration.

BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1 and 2 respectively show the seat assembly 10 in a maximum seat configuration and a minimum seat configuration. The seat assembly 10 has a frame 11 that supports multiple interconnected panel elements 12. The panel elements 12 are slidably adjustable with respect to each adjoining panel and lock in place in order to adjust and fix the size of various elements of the seat. The seat has an upper back panel 14 and a lower back panel 16 to define the seat back assembly. A headrest 18 is attached to the upper back panel 14. The seat has a rear seat panel 20 and a front seat panel 22 to define a seat bottom assembly. The seat back assembly and the seat bottom assembly are attached between to two members of the frame 11.

The seat back assembly and seat bottom assembly each have one panel that is fixed to the frame 11 in a predetermined area. One panel of each assembly is slidably adjustable with respect to the fixed panel. For example, the shoulder height of the seat back assembly is adjustable by sliding an upper back panel 14 with respect to a lower back panel 16. The lower back panel 16 remains fixed in the frame 11. Making adjustments to the shoulder height also adjusts the height of the headrest 18 with respect to seat panels 20 and 22. Likewise, the seat can be adjusted for a variety of thigh lengths by slidably adjusting a front seat panel 22 with respect to a rear seat panel 20. The rear seat panel 20 remains fixed relative to the frame 11 and remains fixed in its position to the lower seat back panel 14.

In a similar manner, the seat has a lower leg panel 26 and a footrest 24 that are slidably engaged with each other. These panels 24, 26 are not engaged to the frame 11. The lower leg panel 26 is hinged to the front seat panel 22 of the seat bottom assembly. A variety of calf lengths can be accommodated by adjusting the footrest 24 with respect to the lower leg panel 26 and the hinged lower leg panel can be adjusted to any angle between being perpendicular to the front seat panel 22, and completely aligned with the front seat panel 22 (not shown in FIGS. 1 and 2).

The armrests 28 are attached to the frame members 11. The armrests 28 are adjustable to different heights along the frame 11 as by slots 29 (see FIG. 2) and shown between FIGS. 1 and 2 in an upper most and lower most configurations. It should be noted that any variation or modification in between the two size configuration extremes shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 is understood to be easily accommodated by adjusting the slidable panels and locking them in place.

The panels are locked in place once they are positioned in the desired configurations. There are several ways known to one of ordinary skill in the art in which to slide the panels and hold the slidable panels in the desired configuration and those methods are not shown herein. For example, the panels may be slidable using a tongue-in-groove configuration between two adjacent panels, and then locked in place using a detent or a ball/pinion locking mechanism. Another example may be retractable guides with locking pins. It should be understood that the examples provided herein are not intended to limit the adjustable/locking mechanism of the present invention, but are merely provided as examples of types of mechanisms that may be used to implement the adjustability of the present invention and one skilled in the art could substitute any one of several possibilities to accomplish this aspect of the present invention.

The seat itself is fully articulated so that it can be adjusted in a variety of configurations. The seat bottom assembly is hinged 17 with respect to the frame 11 members. Likewise, the lower leg panel 26 is hinged 15 with respect to the front seat bottom panel 22 and the footrest 24 is hinged 19 as well.

FIG. 3 shows the seat 10 in a fully folded, and stowed configuration. The hinges 15, 17, and 19, or articulating joints, allow the panels to be folded upon each other to stow the seat, or easily remove it from the attachment points. The footrest 24 collapses upon itself at its hinge 19. The footrest is slidably adjusted to its smallest configuration relative to the lower leg panel, not shown in FIG. 3, and the lower leg panel 26 and footrest 24 are folded at the hinge 15 of the lower leg panel 26. The entire footrest 24 and lower leg panel 26 are folded onto the rear seat bottom panel 20 which has the front seat bottom panel 22 in its minimum configuration as well. The seat bottom panel 20 is then folded up against the seat back panels, which are also in their minimum configuration relative to each other. Only the upper seat back panel 14 is shown in FIG. 3. For complete stowing the armrests are removed. The armrest slot 29 is visible in FIG. 3. FIG. 3 additionally shows a means for supporting and locking the slidably engaged panels for the front and rear seat panels 20 and 22. An extendable rod mechanism 30 is shown that telescopes out to extendably support and lock the panels in the maximum seat configuration, and retracts in to support and lock the panels in a seat configuration between the maximum and minimum configurations. The rod is shown fully retracted in FIG. 3 and fully extended in FIG. 4. In the fully folded configuration shown in FIG. 3, the seat is compact and provides increased room on the vehicle, such as may be necessary for added cargo or to accommodate a need for additional room in which to conduct experiments or the like.

FIG. 4 shows the seat 10 in a fully extended, stretcher configuration. The hinges 15, 17, and 19 on the panels 12 of the seat articulate at the seat bottom, the lower leg portion, and the footrest for adjusting the angle of the seat back with the seat bottom, and the seat bottom with the leg rest. The armrests, not shown in FIG. 4, may be folded into an upright position for stowing, or they can be altogether removed from the frame members 11. The upper back panel 14 is fully extended relative to the fixed lower back panel 16. The seat bottom is hinged flat in alignment with the seat back panels 14 and 16. The front seat panel 22 is fully extended relative to the fixed rear seat panel 20. The rod mechanism 30 is shown in its fully telescoped position. The lower leg panel 26 is hinged into alignment with the seat bottom panels 20, 22 and the seat back panels 14, 16. The footrest 24 is fully extended with respect to the lower leg panel 26.

The stretcher configuration shown in FIG. 4 allows a crewmember to use the seat in a standing, or upright position. Additionally, the seat may be removed from the mounting attachments, and used as a stretcher for holding, or transporting an injured crewmember. In the fully extended configuration, the seat back is in alignment with the seat bottom, which is in alignment with the leg rest. The stretcher configuration shown in FIG. 4 can be adjusted depending on the size of the crewmember. The crewmember being stabilized in the stretcher should have their head on the headrest 18 and their feet on the footrest 24. Depending on the crewmember size, predetermined settings will be determined for setting the length of the footrest, seat bottom, and back panel. Adjusting the size of the stretcher to match the size of the crewmember will ensure the best stability for an injured crewmember.

The seat should have a standard configuration for attaching to the spacecraft. A series of attachment points such as with quick-release pins, not shown, hold the seat in position on the spacecraft and provide easy access to removing the seat when necessary. The attachment points are preferably located on a portion of the panel that does not move with respect to its position within the vehicle. The frame member 11 and the lower seat back panel 14 remain fixed relative to each other and the spacecraft. Therefore, it is likely that the attachment system for the seat should be accommodated in any, or all, of these fixed panels. This is so that a seat in any size or folded configuration can be attached to the spacecraft in a uniform manner. The ease of the quick-release pins and their position allows the seat to be removed even with a crewmember still seated. Therefore, in the event of an emergency, the injured crewmember does not have to be moved, or adjusted in order to remove the seat from the vehicle.

Furthermore, the seat, when used in a vehicle, should have a harness system for holding the crewmember in place during take-off, flight, and landing. The harness system can also be used to stabilize a crewmember in the seat's stretcher configuration. The harness system is not shown herein as there are many different systems and the ideal system may depend on the particular vehicle arrangement, the seating arrangement within the vehicle, the type of mission, or any combination thereof.

The flexibility of the seat configurations means that one spacecraft can easily accommodate a crew having multiple variations in body size and weight and a varying number of crewmembers for each flight. The seats 10 can also be easily changed out to reconfigure the spacecraft for a subsequent mission having a completely different crew. A seat can easily be added or removed before, after or even during a mission. This way there will be no extra seats unnecessarily weighing down the vehicle should the number of crewmembers vary from flight to flight for a particular spacecraft.

From the foregoing, it can be seen that there has been brought to the art a new and improved seat for space travel. It is to be understood that the preceding description of the preferred embodiment is merely illustrative of some of the many specific embodiments that represent applications of the principles of the present invention. Clearly, numerous and other arrangements would be evident to those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the following claims.