Title:
TAXI METER
United States Patent 3843874


Abstract:
A taximeter of the type adapted to register the values of a plurality of metered variables, for instance total mileage, passenger mileage, waiting time, total fares, etc. A pulse generating unit generates pulses corresponding to increments in the values of such metered variables. A plurality of counter units counts the pulses generated by the pulse generating units and registers digital information corresponding to the values of the metered variables. A digital display unit is capable of displaying the numerical value of any of the metered variables. A selector unit selects which of the metered variables is to have its numerical value displayed.



Inventors:
KELCH H
Application Number:
05/272912
Publication Date:
10/22/1974
Filing Date:
07/11/1972
Assignee:
KELCH H,DT
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
235/45, 377/14, 377/20, 377/24, 377/24.1
International Classes:
G07B13/00; G07B13/02; (IPC1-7): G07B13/00
Field of Search:
235/92PD,92DN,92FL,92TC,45,3R,33,3A,150
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3698627TAXIMETER ARRANGEMENT WITH EXCHANGEABLE CONTROL UNIT1972-10-17Kelch et al.
3662158VIDEO TAPE ANALYZER AND METHOD1972-05-09Wong et al.
3551652KEY-COUNTER1970-12-29Faude
3549868FUEL-MILEAGE COMPUTER1970-12-22Watson
3436530CONTROL DEVICE1969-04-01Faude et al.
3310662N/A1967-03-21Greensheilds
3254833Taximeters1966-06-07Condy et al.
3157352All-electric taximeter1964-11-17Caywood
3099817Vehicle performance monitoring system1963-07-30Kendall



Primary Examiner:
Morrison, Malcolm A.
Assistant Examiner:
Gottman, James F.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Striker, Michael S.
Claims:
I claim

1. In a taxi meter of the type adapted to register the values of a plurality of metered variables, the combination comprising pulse generating means for generating pulses corresponding to increments in the values of such metered variables; a plurality of electronic counter means each operative for counting pulses generated by said pulse generating means and each operative for storing electrical signals indicative of the numerical value of a respective one of such metered variables; digital display means operative for converting electrical signals representative of numbers into a visual display of digits corresponding to such numbers; and selector means for connecting different selected ones of said counter means to said digital display means to convert the electrical signals stored by the selected counter means into a visual display of digits corresponding to the numerical value of the metered variable associated with the selected counter means.

2. An arrangement as defined in claim 1, wherein said counter means comprises at least one plug-in type counter module.

3. An arrangement as defined in claim 1, wherein said pulse generating means comprises means for generating a first pulse train having a variable first pulse repetition frequency dependent upon vehicle speed, means for generating a second pulse train having a constant second pulse repetition frequency, and means responsive to both of said pulse trains and operative for generating a third pulse train having a pulse repetition frequency equal to the higher of said first and second pulse repetition frequencies, and wherein said counting means includes a counter operative for counting the pulses of said third pulse train.

4. An arrangement as defined in claim 1; and further comprising recording means for recording on a record carrier signal information registered on at least one of said counter means.

5. An arrangement as defined in claim 4; and further comprising tape recording means for recording on magnetic tape digital information registered on at least one of said counter means.

6. An arrangement as defined in claim 1; and further including resetting means for resetting selected ones of said counter means.

7. An arrangement as defined in claim 1, wherein said digital display means comprises data identification means for identifying the respective variable when the numerical value thereof is displayed.

8. An arrangement as defined in claim 4; and further comprising auxiliary calculator means for adding the numerical values of a plurality of said variables and transferring digital information corresponding to the resulting sum to said recording means.

9. An arrangement as defined in claim 4; and further comprising resetting means for effecting transfer to said recording means of digital information contained in selected ones of said counting means, and for thereafter resetting such selected ones of said counting means.

10. In a taxi meter of the type adapted to register the values of a plurality of metered variables, the combination comprising, pulse generating means for generating pulses corresponding to increments in the values of such metered variables; a plurality of counter means for counting the pulses generated by said pulse generating means and for registering digital information corresponding to the numerical values of such metered variables; digital display means for displaying the numerical value of any of said metered variables; selector means for selecting respective registered numerical values to be displayed; and auxiliary calculator means for adding the numerical values of a plurality of said variables and transferring digital information corresponding to the resulting sum to said digital display means.

11. In a taxi meter of the type adapted to register the values of a plurality of metered variables, the combination comprising, pulse generating means for generating pulses corresponding to increments in the values of such metered variables; a plurality of counter means for counting the pulses generated by said pulse generating means and for registering digital information corresponding to the numerical values of such metered variables; digital display means for displaying the numerical value of any of said metered variables selector means for selecting respective registered numerical values to be displayed; recording means for recording on a record carrier digital information registered on at least one of said counter means; and auxiliary calculator means for adding the numerical values of a plurality of said variables and transferring digital information corresponding to the resulting sum to said recording means.

12. In a taxi meter adapted to cooperate with recording means for recording information and calculating means for performing calculations and being provided with a recording means output for connection to a recording means and being provided with a calculating means output for connection to a calculating means, in combination, counter means for registering cumulative values for the data required for a calculation of a trip fare, at least some of said counter means being constructed in the form of plug-in modules; means for calculating the trip fare; electronic digital display means; and key-operated multi-position selector means for selectively transferring the information registered by said counter means to said digital display means, to said recording means output and to said calculating means output.

Description:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to electronic taximeters which employ counters for the computation of the total fare to be paid by a passenger, and which also employ digital display means for display for the fare amount, and a control switch for starting the computation of the fare at the beginning of a trip and for resetting the electronic counter at the end of a trip.

More particularly, the invention relates to taximeters of the type which register a plurality of metered variables, for instance the fare for a particular trip, the total of fares collected during a driver's shift, the total mileage during a driver's shift, the total paid mileage during a driver's shift, and so forth.

Taximeters adapted to register a plurality of such variables are particularly useful for owners and supervisors of large taxi fleets, who have no other dependable source of information concerning the operation of their vehicles.

However, a problem involved with the manufacture and distribution of such multi-register taximeters is the great variety of local tariff schedules. The tariff schedules of even neighboring localitites may differ not only in the basic cost per unit of travel, but also in the basic method of computation. In some localitites the fare is directly proportional to distance travelled, and in other localities the method of computation is more complicated.

German Pat. No. 1,259,129 discloses an electronic arrangement for the calculation of the taxi fare, and includes a number of mechanical counters for the continual registration of several different metered variables. The mechanical counters are of the digit-roller type, and with the exception of the counter which displays the fare to be paid the counters are not resettable.

These types of prior-art taximeters are complicated and expensive, inasmuch as they incorporate a very great number of moving parts, are susceptible to mechanical failure, and are particularly susceptible to tampering. Furthermore, because counters of such arrangements are not resettable, it is necessary, in order to determine the performance of a driver during his shift, to record the value on each of the counters at the beginning and at the end of the shift, and then subtract the values. Morever, such units are only capable of providing information concerning cummulative totals, e.g., over the duration of a single operating shift, over a month's time, etc. Thus, the fleet owner or garage supervisor is not able to consider the actual history of a particular driver's shift, to determine for instance the pattern of alternating paid and unpaid travel. Furthermore, the data which is registered is within the constant view of the driver and/or the passengers, and this is not always desirable from the viewpoint of the fleet owner.

An electronic taximeter is known from U.S. Pat. No. 3,512,706. This meter incorporates a so-called main counter which counts successive fees over a predetermined time period. A manual activation of a control switch effects display on a digital output of the most recent total. A further control switch, which can only be operated by a key in the possession of the garage supervisor, sets both the main counter and the digital display unit to zero.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is the general object of the present invention to overcome the shortcomings of prior-art taximeters.

It is more particular object to provide a novel taximeter which overcomes such shortcomings.

It is still more particular object to provide a taximeter capable of registering the values of a plurality of metered variables, such as for instance fare, total mileage, paid mileage, waiting time, etc.

These objects, and others which will become more understandable below, can be met by a taximeter adapted to register the values of a plurality of metered variables. The taximeter includes pulse generating means for generating pulses corresponding to increments in the values of such metered variables. A plurality of counting means count the pulses generated by the pulse generating means and register digital information corresponding to the values of such metered variables. Digital display means is adapted to display the numerical value of any of the metered variables, and selector means selects which of the variables is to have its numerical value displayed.

The invention seeks to take particularly into account the differing tariff schedules of different localitites, and accordingly contemplates the provision within a taximeter of a plurality of independent counters, each associated with a different one of the metered variables. Most advantageously, the counters are provided in form of replaceable counter modules. With such a meter design, only such modules need actually be provided as are required to compute the quantities pertinent for a particulr tariff schedule. Moreover, because the counter modules can be readily replaced with other modules having different characteristics, the conversion of a particular meter from one tariff schedule to another becomes a very simple matter.

The novel features which are considered as characteristics for the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its construction and its method of operation, together with additional objects and advantages thereof, will be best understood from the following description of specific embodiments when read in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a taximeter according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of part of the circuitry in the taximeter of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of another part of the circuitry in the taximeter of FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a taximeter according to the invention. A cover plate 1 is provided with a viewing window 2, providing visual access to digital display means 3-9. Digital display means 3-9 may be in the form of Nixie tubes, digit cylinders, liquid crystal components, or other suitable display components. The number of decades comprised within the digital display means can be chosen according to the anticipated needs of a particular locality; When the locality is not known in advance, it is preferable to provide more rather than fewer such decades, this being only a matter of an increase in cost. In the illustrated embodiment, display means 3-6 is adapted to register numbers from 0000 to 9999. Two additional display means 7, 8 are provided to register the cost of additional services, for instance the carrying of trunks, or the paying of bridge and tunnel tolls. The amount appearing on display decades 7, 8 is in this embodiment determined by the number of times which pushbutton 10 is pressed. For instance, each pressing of button 10 might register 10 cents, and if the driver pays a bridge toll of 50 cents, he can press button 10 five times, so as to establish a visual record of the additional amount to be collected from the passenger at the end of the trip. However, other relationships can be established between the pressing of button 10 and the amount appearing on decades 7, 8.

Display means 9 forms part of data identification means, in this embodiment. As will be explained below, the numerical value appearing on decades 3-6 may be that of any of several metered variables, and the (non-illustrated) symbols which appear on display means 9 are indicative of which variable is having its current numerical value displayed. The symbols in question may be code numbers, abbreviations, or complete words indicating the variable in question.

Button K is pressed at the end of a passenger trip, and serves to stop further computation of the fare and/or to effect adding of the amount appearing on decades 7, 8 to the amount appearing on decades 3-6. If the tariff schedule is complex then the computational function effected upon pressing of button K will also be more complex.

Button F is pressed by the driver when he is free, i.e., available for business. Button F may for instance operate an illuminated "Unoccupied" sign on the roof of the taxi.

Buttons T1-T4 are pressed to select a particular one of four different schedules. In some localities the fare is computed in different manners depending on the distances involved, the number of zones involved, the time of day, whether the trip is out-of-town or not, and so forth. The taximeter may have the capacity for computation according to more or fewer different tariff schedules, according to the requirements anticipated.

Buttons 11-16 are associated with different metered variables whose numerical values are continually registered by the taxi meter.

When button 11 is pressed, there appears on decades 3-6 the total of extra-service charges collected over a certain period, e.g., a driver's shift, a month's time, etc.

When button 12 is pressed, there appears on decades 3-6 the total number of passenger trips.

When button 13 is pressed, there appears on decades 3-6 the total paid distance travelled by the taxi.

When button 14 is pressed, there appears the total distance travelled by the taxi, for instance during a particular shift or during a week or month's time.

When button 15 is pressed, there appears on decades 3-6 the total number of waiting time units for which money was collected. The numerical value appearing may actually correspond to the fares collected for such time, to the time itself, or to other units related to the waiting time.

When button 16 is pressed, there appears on decades 3-6 the total of fares collected during a certain period of time.

Selector means 30 (to be described in connection with FIGS. 2 and 3, below) is controlled by a selector switch 17 which is key-operated. In FIG. 1, switch 17 is settable to five different positions, corresponding to five different operational modes. The key with operates switch 17 will be in the possession of the garage supervisor. However, it is also possible to provide five different keys, each associated with one of the five operational modes, and then to distribute such keys to the persons who properly should have control over such operational modes. As will be described, below, one of the positions of switch 17 effects resetting of any or all of the registers within the meter, and accordingly the key controlling that function should only be in the possession of the garage supervisor.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of part of the circuitry within the taxi meter of FIG. 1. Many of the features of this circuit are described in German Pat. No. 1,259,129, and reference is made to that publication for supplemental information.

A magnetic drum 19 is mechanically coupled to and turns in synchronism with the rotary components in gear box 18 of the (non-illustrated) taxi. A pick-up 20 cooperates with rotating drum 19 and generates a pulse each time drum 19 has turned through a predetermined angle. Accordingly, components 18, 19 and 20 form part of pulse generating means which produce a pulse train having a frequency dependent on taxi speed. The pulses generated by components 18, 19 and 20 are amplified by amplifier 21, and shaped by pulse shaper 22, and then passed to a first frequency divider 23. Frequency divider 23, as well as frequency dividers 24 and 25 to be discussed subsequently, may have the form of counters which produce an output pulse every time a predetermined number of input pulses have been received. Frequency divider 23, and also divider 24, has four pre-setting switches S1 -S4, which cooperate with tariff schedule selector switches T1-T4 in FIG. 1. Closing of a particular one of switches S1 -S4 establishes different frequency-division scale factors. Details of such frequency dividers, and of the manner in which different frequency-division scale factors may be preset, are already known, for instance in U.S. Pat. No. 3,388,859 of Heinz Kelch et al., to which attention is directed.

The frequency dividers 23, 24, 25 serve two basic functions. In the first place they reduce the number of pulses which must be counted, and in the second place they permit easy changing of scale factors, so as to enable adaptation of the meter to a great variety of tariff schedules.

The circuit of FIG. 2 also includes six counters ZS11 to ZS16. Counters ZS11-ZS16 are associated with the functions referred to previously in connection with pushbuttons 11-16 of FIG. 1. Each of counters ZS11-ZS16 is associated with one of the selector means TS11-TS16, which are mechanically coupled with respective ones of pushbuttons 11-16.

Counter ZS14 stores digital information representing total mileage. The pulses generated by means 18-20 correspond to predetermined increments of total mileage, and are frequency divided by dividers 23, 24 so that the pulses appearing at the output of divider 24, after passage through a pulse shaper F2, can be directly applied to and counted by counter SZ14.

Counter ZS13 stores digital information corresponding to the total mileage for which fares were collected. An AND-GATE G2 precedes the input a7 to counter ZS13. The same pulses applied via line a4 to total mileage counter ZS14 are also applied to one input of AND-gate G2. However, these pulses are actually counted by counter ZS13 only when switch 26 is closed, and switch 26 is closed only when a passenger is being carried. Switch 26 may cooperate automatically with the conventional "ON-DUTY" flag of many taxi meters, or may cooperate automatically with a taxi "hot-seat" if such is provided, or can be activated manually.

Counter ZS12 registers digital information corresponding to the total number of passenger trips. Counter ZS12 accomplishes this by counting the number of times that switch 26 is closed.

Counter ZS11 registers digital information corresponding to the total of fares collected for additional services, such as the carrying of luggage, the payment of bridge and tunnel fares, the carrying of an extra passenger in the front of the taxi, and so on. Counter ZS11 accomplishes this function by counting the number of times that switch 27, cooperating with button 10 in FIG. 1, is closed. In the illustrated embodiment, the input to counter ZS11 is preceded by an AND-gate G3.

Pulses from extra-service switch 27 are applied via lead a9 to one input of the AND-gate, and pulses from "ON DUTY" switch 26 are applied via lead a8 to the other input of the AND-gate. Accordingly, counter ZS11 is operative to count extra-service units only during the course of a passenger trip.

Counter ZS16 registers digital information corresponding to total fare. The operation of counter ZS16 takes into account both distance travelled and waiting time. This capability results from the provision of frequency discriminator means comprising components Z, FF, G, D1 and D2, described below. Pulse generating means 18-23 constitutes means for generating a first pulse train having a pulse repetition frequency dependent on taxi speed. This first pulse train is applied to the left-hand input of flip-flop FF. Oscillator Z constitutes means for generating a second pulse train having a predetermined pulse repetition frequency. The frequency of oscillator Z corresponds to the minimum vehicle speed for which the fare should be calculated solely in terms of distance travelled. When the frequency of pulses applied to the anode of diode D1 is less than the frequency of oscillator Z, this means that the vehicle speed is so low as to warrant computation of the fare on a waiting-time basis. The frequency comparison between these two pulse trains is accomplished by components D1, D2, G. FF and Z in a manner set forth in great detail in U.S. Pat. No. 3,388,859; the details of operation will not be repeated here, except to note that a third pulse train, applied to the input of frequency divider 25, will have a frequency equal to the higher one of the aforementioned first and second frequencies. This third pulse train is frequency-divided by unit 25, and the pulses appearing at the output of unit 25 are shaped by pulse shaper F3 and applied to fare unit counter ZS16. Thus, when the vehicle speed is above a predetermined minimum, the fare will be computed in terms of distance travelled; and when the vehicle speed is below such predetermined minimum, the fare will be computed in terms of time, i.e., in terms of the pulse train generated by oscillator Z.

Counter ZS15 registers digital information corresponding to the total number of waiting time units. This operation is accomplished as follows. The pulses appearing at the output of AND-gate G have the frequency of the second pulse train generated by oscillator Z, and these pulses are applied via line a2 to one input of AND-gate G1. When the vehicle speed is above the aforementioned predetermined minimum value, the pulse train appearing at the output of pulse shaper F3 will have a frequency corresponding to vehicle speed, and the individual pulses will not be synchronized with the oscillator pulses appearing on line a2. Accordingly, no pulses will be applied to waiting time counter ZS15. However, when the vehicle speed is below the aforementioned minimum value, the pulses appearing at the output of pulse shaper F3 will be in phase with pulses appearing on line a2. Of course, fewer pulses will appear on line a3 than on line a2. However, each time a pulse appears on line a3 a pulse will be present on line a2, and thus a pulse will be applied to the input of waiting time counter ZS15. Moreover, since the pulses counted by counters ZS15 and ZS16 are frequency-divided by the same factor, the counters ZS15 and ZS16 will register amounts calculated according to the same basic units, making possible simple addition or subtraction of the registered quantities, if this should be necessary for the particular computational scheme involved.

The counters ZS11-ZS16 may be of any suitable type. However, inasmuch as they will store digital information over substantial periods of time, it is advantageous that they comprise magnetic storage units, or storage units of another type adapted for prolonged storage of information. The invention specifically contemplates providing the counters ZS11-ZS16 in the form of plug-in type counter modules. Modular design of the calculating circuitry results in a maximum economy coupled with maximum adaptability. For instance, if the fleet owner does not desire information concerning the total number of paid miles or the total of waiting time units, then the taxi meter can be sold to him without counter modules ZS13 and ZS15. Nevertheless, these can be purchased separately at a later date, if a requirement for them should subsequently arise. Likewise, if the taxis in question are already provided with resettable total mileage indicators, which is often the case, counter module ZS14 can be omitted from the meter at the time of purchase.

The illustrated counters ZS11 to ZS16 are binary counters having four output lines A, B, C, D. However, this number of outputs is merely exemplary, and the number of outputs required for most purposes will be considerably greater.

As already stated, a very great variety of operational modes and features are associated with the illustrated taxi meter. These will now be described. It is noted that, by reason of the sheer number of such features, many components have been illustrated only schematically where the particulars of their construction and circuitry are of the type evident to any circuit designer. Likewise, the connections between components have been illustrated only schematically where the particulars of such connection are matters of routine design.

FIG. 3 identifies the digitial display means with reference numeral 38. Associated with digital display means 38 is a binary-to-decimal converter 37. The converter 37, in the illustrated embodiment, has four inputs A, B, C, D for receipt of four-digit binary numbers. In actual practice, a greater number of inputs may be necessary.

The different modes of operation are selected by key-operated switch 17 (FIG. 1) which controls rotating electrical contact 29 of switch 30 in FIGS. 2 and 3.

SWITCH POSITION 30/1

This is the simplest mode of operation. Switch 31 is closed, connecting the output of counter ZS31 to the input of binary-to-decimal converter 37. Counter ZS31 is identical in operation to counter ZS16, except that each time "cash-register" button K is pressed (i.e., at the end of a trip when the fare has been collected), the button K activates a resetting device 100 which resets counter ZS31 to zero via reset connection R. When switch 30 is in position 30/1, the fare due is continuously displayed on display means 3-8. In this switch position, switches TS11-TS16 are not activatable --i.e., they are mechanically locked in place by a (non-illustrated) locking mechanism. It is believed that illustration of the locking mechanism would be burdensome and would not add to an understanding of the invention.

An operational feature associated with switch position 30/1 is the following. The taxi meter is provided with a casette recorder unit 39 including a magnetic tape 39/1. The recorder is activated automatically by the pressing of "cash-register" button K. At the end of a passenger trip, after the fare has been collected, button K is pressed and, before the setting to zero of counter ZS31, the last value registered (i.e., the amount just paid) is recorded in digital form onto the magnetic tape 39/1 for later evaluation. Details of the tape recorder 39, and the method of transmission thereto of the numerical values being displayed on means 38, are not believed necessary for an understanding of the invention, inasmuch these merely involve the ordinary skill of the technician or circuit designer. It is noted, however, that recorder 39 is a multicrack recorder, and that each track of tape 39/1 is associated with a different type of digital information, namely, the waiting time units, the total mileage, the total charge for extra services, etc. When switch 30 is in position 30/1, the digital information transferred from converter 37 will be recorded on that track of tape 39/1 associated with fare collected for each trip. Thus, tape 39/1 will record the succession of fares collected during a driver's shift, and not merely the cumulative total of all fares collected.

SWITCH POSITION 30/2

In this mode of operation, all of switches TS11-TS16 and 31 become activatable, and the numerical value of any selected one of the metered variables can be displayed on display means 38.

SWITCH POSITION 30/3

In this mode of operation, all data stored in counters ZS11-ZS16 and 31 is continuously transferred to and recorded on respective tracks of magnetic tape 39/1. This provides an extremely comprehensive record of the driver's performance. In actual practice, the operation can be modified so that a continuous record is made of only one or a few of the metered variables. At the same time that these values are being recorded, the changing value of a selected one of the variables --usually the fare --can be displayed on the digital display means 38. The digital information for such values is transferred from recorder 39 to display means 38 via transfer connections 40, which are per se conventional.

SWITCH POSITION 30/4

In this mode of operation, information contained in selected ones of counters ZS11 to ZS16 is transferred to an auxiliary calculator unit 41, which may for instance be operative to calculate the sum of several of the variables. For instance, to compute the total of all moneys collected, it is necessary to add the anount of fares which correspond to simple distance and waiting time (i.e., the information stored in counter ZS16) to the total charge for extra services (information in counter SZ11). In addition, if an initial charge is made for each trip, prior to any travel, then such initial charges (corresponding to the total number of trips) should also be added to the just-mentioned total charges. Calculator 41 performs this function and transfers the resulting sum to recorder 39 which records the results on tape 39/1.

SWITCH POSITION 30/5

In this mode of operation, any or all of counters ZS11-ZS16 can be set to zero by resetting means 44, and via reset connections R. However, prior to the resetting of any of the counters the numerical value registered by the counter is transferred in digital form to tape recorder 39 and/or to display means 38 for display thereon.

It will be understood that each of the elements described above, or two or more together, may also find a useful application in other types of circuits and constructions differing from the types described above.

While the invention has been illustrated and described as embodied in taximeters, it is not intended to be limited to the details shown, since various modifications and structural changes may be made without departing in any way from the spirit of the present invention.

Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can by applying current knowledge readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features that, from the standpoint of prior art, fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic or specific aspects of this invention and, therefore, such adaptations should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalence of the following claims.

What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is set forth in the appended claims.