Title:
WEIGHT STEERABLE SELF-PROPELLED PERSONAL WATERCRAFT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-propelled personal watercraft. The watercraft includes a hull with a middle narrower than a bow and a stern of the watercraft and with a bottom of the bow being raised with respect to the middle and the stern, and a propulsion device within the hull. While the watercraft is propelled through water by the propulsion device with a rider on board, shifting of the rider's weight to either side of the watercraft increases contact of the bow with the water on that side, the increased contact resulting in increased drag and turning the watercraft to that side. While the watercraft is propelled through water by the propulsion device with the rider on board and the watercraft is not turning, the bottom of the bow makes contact with the water across a narrower distance than the bottom of the middle.



Inventors:
Woods, Jason Daniel (Pleasanton, CA, US)
Woodward, Mark (Lakewood, CO, US)
Application Number:
14/529094
Publication Date:
03/05/2015
Filing Date:
10/30/2014
Assignee:
Inventive Design Group, Inc. (Fair Oaks, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
114/55.5, 114/55.58
International Classes:
B63H25/00; B63B35/73; B63H11/00; B63H21/17
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090142973JACK PLATE FOR AN OUTBOARD MOTORJune, 2009Witte
20090098783Piggyback Auxiliary Motor BracketApril, 2009Cribbs
20060073745Motor-driven hydroplane for rescue purposes (ice rescue)April, 2006Ficht et al.
20070111616Prop-less trolling motorMay, 2007Mcaleer Jr. et al.
20040242089Electric personal water craftDecember, 2004Krietzman
20080242164Marine engine exhaust systemOctober, 2008Mckinney
20080017451LUBRICATING STRUCTURE FOR MARINE DRIVEJanuary, 2008Fukuoka et al.
20090227157BOATSeptember, 2009Mochizuki
20080214069BOAT PROPULSION APPARATUS AND BOATSeptember, 2008Kawanishi et al.
20070293104Propulsion System for ShipsDecember, 2007Sandoy et al.
20080233814PROPULSION DRIVESeptember, 2008Reuter



Foreign References:
GB2008516A1979-06-06
Primary Examiner:
SWINEHART, EDWIN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dane C. Butzer (5856 Ainsley Ave, Columbus, OH, 43230, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A self-propelled personal watercraft, comprising: a hull with a middle narrower than a bow and a stern of the watercraft and with a bottom of the bow being raised with respect to the middle and the stern; and a propulsion device within the hull; wherein while the watercraft is propelled through water by the propulsion device with a rider on board, shifting of the rider's weight to either side of the watercraft increases contact of the bow with the water on that side, the increased contact resulting in increased drag and turning the watercraft to that side.

2. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, wherein while the watercraft is propelled through water by the propulsion device with the rider on board and the watercraft is not turning, the bottom of the bow makes contact with the water across a narrower distance than the bottom of the middle.

3. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 2, wherein while the watercraft is propelled through water by the propulsion device with the rider on board and the watercraft is not turning, the bottom of the middle makes contact with the water across a narrower distance than the bottom of the stern.

4. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, further comprising a hinged bow area with a hatch to an internal storage compartment accessible when the hinged bow area is raised.

5. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, further comprising chest support for the rider while laying prone on the watercraft.

6. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, further comprising recessed forearm supports for the rider while laying prone on the watercraft.

7. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, further comprising elbow stops for the rider while laying prone on the watercraft.

8. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, further comprising recessed knee pockets for the rider while laying prone on the watercraft.

9. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, further comprising an internal chassis support within the hull.

10. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 9, further comprising a removable chassis installed in the chassis support, the removable chassis including at least a power source for the propulsion device.

11. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 10, wherein the propulsion device further comprises an electric water jet and the power source further comprises one or more batteries.

12. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 11, wherein the one or more batteries further comprise a swappable sealed battery module; and wherein the removable chassis further comprises a mount or tray for the battery module.

13. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, further comprising a remote throttle system for the propulsion device.

14. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 13, wherein the remote throttle system further comprises a potentiometer protected in a waterproof housing.

15. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 13, further comprising a receiver and a controller connected to the remote throttle system, wherein the controller determines a strength of a signal received by the receiver, determines a range from a source of the signal, and limits a maximum throttle level of the remote throttle system if the range exceeds a predefined limit.

16. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 13, further comprising an interface to the remote throttle system for a mobile computing device, whereby the remote computing device controls a maximum throttle level of the remote throttle system.

17. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, further comprising a receiver, a controller, and a remote steering system controlled by the controller based on a signal received by the receiver; wherein the remote steering system further comprises a servo-motor and weight that the servo-motor shifts from side to side inside the hull under control of the controller based on the signal.

18. The self-propelled personal watercraft as in claim 1, wherein the hull comprises a translucent material and a light that shines through the translucent material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/011,654 titled “A Self Propelled Personal Watercraft” filed Aug. 27, 2013, and claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 50/437,511 filed Aug. 29, 2012, both in the name of the same inventor as this application.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISK APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure generally relates to a self-propelled personal watercraft that may be steered by a rider shifting his or her weight. The watercraft preferably does not include or use a rudder, steering bucket (thrust vectoring), or skegs for steering.

SUMMARY

Aspects of the subject technology include a self-propelled personal watercraft. The watercraft includes a hull with a middle narrower than a bow and a stern of the watercraft and with a bottom of the bow being raised with respect to the middle and the stern, and a propulsion device within the hull. While the watercraft is propelled through water by the propulsion device with a rider on board, shifting of the rider's weight to either side of the watercraft increases contact of the bow with the water on that side, the increased contact resulting in increased drag and turning the watercraft to that side.

In some aspects, while the watercraft is propelled through water by the propulsion device with the rider on board and the watercraft is not turning, the bottom of the bow makes contact with the water across a narrower distance than the bottom of the middle. In addition or alternatively, when not turning, the bottom of the middle makes contact with the water across a narrower distance than the bottom of the stern.

The watercraft may also include a hinged bow area with a hatch to an internal storage compartment accessible when the hinged bow area is raised. The hatch preferably is located on a bottom side of the hinged bow area when the bow area is not raised.

In some aspects, the watercraft includes chest support, recessed forearm supports, elbow stops, and/or recessed knee pockets for the rider while laying prone on the watercraft.

Some aspects of the subject technology may include an internal chassis support within the hull. The watercraft may further include a removable chassis installed in the chassis support, with the removable chassis including at least a power source for the propulsion device. The propulsion device may be an electric water jet and the power source may be one or more batteries, for example in the form of a swappable sealed battery module. The removable chassis may include a mount or tray for the battery module.

In some aspects, the watercraft may include a remote throttle system for the propulsion device such as a potentiometer protected in a waterproof housing. Other control systems may also be included, for example for remote throttle limitation and/or control and remote steering via one or more servo-motor shifted weights inside the hull.

The hull of the watercraft may be made from any suitable material. A translucent material may be used, for example to enable a light to shine through the hull in a waterproof manner for night operation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawing(s) will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee.

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a self-propelled personal watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology.

FIG. 2 illustrates another perspective view of a self-propelled personal watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology.

FIG. 3 illustrates a translucent perspective view of a self-propelled personal watercraft showing interior elements according to aspects of the subject technology.

FIG. 4 illustrates a bottom view of a self-propelled personal watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology.

FIG. 5 illustrates a translucent side perspective view of a self-propelled personal watercraft showing interior elements according to aspects of the subject technology.

FIG. 6 illustrates another translucent side perspective view of a self-propelled personal watercraft showing interior elements according to aspects of the subject technology.

FIG. 7 illustrates translucency of the hull of a self-propelled personal watercraft with lighting according to aspects of the subject technology.

FIG. 8 illustrates a control system for a self-propelled personal watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/011,654 titled “A Self Propelled Personal Watercraft” filed Aug. 27, 2013, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 50/437,511 filed Aug. 29, 2012, both in the name of the same inventor as this application, are hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

In some aspects, a unique hull design of a self-propelled personal watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology allows steering without a need for a rudder, steering bucket (thrust vectoring), or skegs. Steering is instead achieved by changing drag characteristics of the watercraft by a rider shifting his or her weight. One possible benefit of the technology is a reduction in both the complexity and weight of the watercraft.

Some concepts from the unrelated technology of skiing may help to understand the subject technology. Modern skis often have curved edges that are narrower under a skier's foot than at the ski's tip and tail. When a skier tilts such a ski onto its edge, the ski will bend under the weight of the skier. The further the ski is tipped, the more the ski will bend. As the ski moves forward, the ski will tend to follow the curve of the edge meeting the snow and turn in a smooth arc. This action is often referred to as “carving.” The amount of the arc achieved by carving is controlled by the shape of the ski, the amount of pressure that the skier applies, and how much the ski bends under that pressure.

The hull of a watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology also effectively “carves” into water when a rider shifts his or her weight. However, instead the hull of the watercraft substantially flexing or otherwise changing shape to facilitate a turn, the shape of the watercraft's hull allows a rider to change the shape of contact of the hull with water by shifting his or her weight. In particular, the shape enables control of drag by either side of the hull while moving through water. (It should be noted that some flexing of the hull may occur, but this flexing preferably is not part of the steering mechanism for the watercraft.)

In addition, the hull's shape preferably has a narrower middle as compared to the hull's stern and bow. This shape facilitates sitting up on the watercraft with the rider's legs straddling either side of the hull. The narrower middle also facilitates carrying of the watercraft under a person's arm.

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a self-propelled personal watercraft having the foregoing characteristics according to aspects of the subject technology. Watercraft 10 includes hull 12. Middle 14 of hull 12 is narrower than bow 16 and stern 18 of the watercraft. (In this document, the bow is considered to be the front third of the watercraft, the middle is considered to be the middle third of the watercraft, and the stern is considered to be the back third of the watercraft. The width for comparing which portion is narrower is considered to be the lateral distance across a middle of each portion.) As also shown in at least FIG. 1, the top of bow 16 of the hull is raised compared to the top of middle 14 and the top of stern 18.

As a result of the illustrated hull shape, shifting of the rider's weight to either side of the watercraft while moving through water increases contact of the bow with the water on that side. The increased contact results in increased drag and turns the watercraft to that side.

FIG. 2 illustrates another perspective view of a self-propelled personal watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology. Aspects of the subject technology that facilitate steering via weight shifting, comfort while riding, and other features are discussed with respect to this figure.

Watercraft 10 in FIG. 2 includes chest support 20, recessed forearm supports 22, elbow stops 24, and recessed knee pockets 26 for the rider while laying prone on the watercraft. Handholds 28 are also illustrated. A throttle may be disposed on or near one or both of the handholds for controlling the watercraft's speed.

Hatch 30 in hinged bow area 32 is also illustrated. Bow area 32 may be raised as illustrated, and a storage area in the bow area may be accessed via preferably water-tight hatch 30. The hatch preferably is located on a bottom side of the hinged bow area when the bow area is not raised. This arrangement facilitates access to the interior of the storage area with limited water ingress while the watercraft is in water. One or more interior dry storage areas may be included within the storage area.

D-Ring mounts 36 may be included to provide versatile mounting options, for example to allow a person to affix a carry strap bridging the narrowed middle of the hull for easier carrying. Two of the D-Ring mounts are labeled in FIG. 2. Two other D-Rings mounts are also shown opposite the labeled mounts.

The watercraft shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 according to aspects of the subject technology does not include any rudder or skegs. As a result, the watercraft has a reduced draft, is lighter, and can be more easily carried than other personal watercraft such as jet skis and wave runners. In addition, the watercraft can be more easily stacked for transport and/or storage. Rudders and/or skegs may be included without departing from the invention; however, any such rudders and/or skegs should be small and may detract from the advantages of the present technology.

FIG. 3 illustrates a translucent perspective view of a self-propelled personal watercraft showing interior elements according to aspects of the subject technology. Watercraft 10 includes propulsion device 38 inside hull 12. The illustrated propulsion device is a battery powered electric water jet. Other types of propulsion devices may be used. Also shown in FIG. 3 is access port 40 with a watertight cover for accessing the propulsion device and other elements of the watercraft within the hull.

FIG. 4 illustrates a bottom view of a self-propelled personal watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology. This view shows an area of contact of the watercraft's hull with water when being ridden without turning. In this case, the bottom of bow 16 makes contact with the water across a narrower distance than the bottom of middle 14, which in turn preferably makes contact with the water across a narrower distance than the bottom of stern 18.

As discussed above with respect to FIG. 1, the middle is narrower than the bow. Thus, in order for the bow to make contact with the water across a narrower distance than the middle, the bottom of the bow is raised with respect to the bottom of the middle and preferably the stern. The stern also may tail off toward the rear of the watercraft. Depending on the amount of tailing, the area of contact of the middle with water may be narrower than the area of contact of the stern, as shown, or the area of contact of the middle may be wider. In either event, the area of contact of the bow with the water while not turning preferably is narrower than the area of contact of both the middle and stern.

As a result of the hull shape illustrated by FIGS. 1 to 4, when a rider shifts his or her weight to one side of the watercraft, the bow on that side of the watercraft will “dig” into the water, causing the drag on that side to increase. This drag in turn causes the watercraft to turn without a need to use a rudder or skegs.

Also shown in FIG. 4 are lifting strakes 42 on the bottom of hull 12. The strakes may enhance turning efficiency as well as providing protection for the hull when placed or moved along a surface.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrates translucent side perspective views of a self-propelled personal watercraft showing interior elements according to aspects of the subject technology. Chassis support system 44 permits some internal components of watercraft 10 to be assembled outside of hull 12 in chassis 46. The chassis may then be slid into place inside the hull. After installation, the chassis may be removed for maintenance. The combination of the chassis support system and the chassis may also provide internal structural support for the watercraft's drivetrain assembly and strength for the hull.

One component that may be carried by the chassis is a battery tray for swappable sealed battery module 48 that includes one or more batteries for powering the watercraft. Other components that may be carried by chassis 46 include but are not limited to electronics, a remote throttle assembly such as a potentiometer in a waterproof case for electronic throttle control, circuit breaker(s) or fuse(s), an integrated master power switch, a battery shutoff device that renders the battery module inert when not installed, and the like.

As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the top of hull 12 preferably tapers at the back of the stern. This tapering may provide a more comfortable angle for a rider reducing neck fatigue. Additionally the main chassis 50 include the propulsion device preferably has a matching tapering toward its rear. This arrangement provides a “shoe horn effect” for the main chassis in the hull, which tends to provide good structural integrity and stability.

FIG. 7 illustrates translucency of the hull of a self-propelled personal watercraft with lighting according to aspects of the subject technology. The material of hull 12 preferably is a suitably durable material such as HDPE. Other materials may be used. In preferred aspects, the material is translucent such that internal lights may show through for aesthetic reasons and to permit use at night without an exposed external light.

FIG. 8 illustrates a possible control system for a self-propelled personal watercraft according to aspects of the subject technology. This control system may permit various different types of control for the watercraft, including but not limited to the following:

  • RF Radio Fencing—automatic limiting of board throttle potential outside of a given area. A transmitter placed on shore or on another watercraft may sends a radio frequency signal to the board. Range from the transmitter may be determined by the controller, for example by detecting signal strength. Full throttle may be permitted within a predetermined range of the transmitter, while throttle potential may be limited outside of the predetermined range.
  • Remote Control. A remote control signal may be received by the controller, which may then actuate one or more servo-motor(s) to shift one or more weight(s) inside the board. The shifting weights may be used to steer the board.
  • Automatic Reserve Power Limiting. The controller may detect when the power supply for the propulsion device has reached a certain threshold and then limit throttle potential. Thus, a rider would feel the watercraft slow down when power is low, giving the rider warning that he or she should return.
  • Mobile Application Connectivity. The controller may enable cell phones through the use of mobile applications to connect to the watercraft and designate minimum and maximum speed perimeters, shut the board off, and create a lock feature. Examples of the speed perimeters include but are not limited to a parent setting a maximum speed for their children to ride the watercraft, compliance with speed limits on lakes, and the like. The lock feature would permit the controller to disable the remote throttle if the board was stolen.

FIG. 8 shows various elements that may be used to enable these types of control. Controller 80 includes one or more processors and memory for instructions executed by the processor. Controller 80 may interface with various other elements shown in FIG. 8. These elements include one or more receivers 82, for example for radio frequency or wireless phone signals. Mobile device 84 may interface directly with controller 80, for example via a USB cable, or remotely with controller 80, for example via a wireless phone network. Controller 80 may receive battery power information from battery power sensor 85. The information from these and other sources may be used by controller 80 to control the watercraft, for example via remote throttle control 86 in the form of a potentiometer, steering mechanism 88, or other devices included in the watercraft.

The invention is in no way limited to the specifics of any particular embodiments and examples disclosed herein. For example, the terms “aspect,” “example,” “preferably,” “alternatively” and the like denote features that may be preferable but not essential to include in some embodiments of the invention. In addition, details illustrated or disclosed with respect to any one aspect of the invention may be used with other aspects of the invention. Additional elements may be added to various aspects of the invention and/or some disclosed elements may be subtracted from various aspects of the invention without departing from the scope of the invention. Singular elements imply plural elements and vice versa. Many other variations are possible which remain within the content, scope and spirit of the invention, and these variations would become clear to those skilled in the art after perusal of this application.