Title:
Motor Vehicle Chair System for Physically Disabled Persons
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A motor vehicle chair system for wheelchair users. The chair system comprises a driver seat having a fixed portion, a mobile seat portion and a lifting mechanism. The fixed portion is secured inside a motor vehicle. The mobile seat portion is moveably coupled to the fixed portion and the lifting mechanism. The lifting mechanism includes a lifting portion, a horizontal arm and a drive mechanism. The horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism is operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement. The lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle.



Inventors:
Dudai, Simon (Key West, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/671235
Publication Date:
08/23/2007
Filing Date:
02/05/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RUDAWITZ, JOSHUA I
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MORRIS, MANNING & MARTIN, LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A motor vehicle chair system comprising a driver seat system, wherein the driver seat system further comprises: a. a fixed portion having an upper seatback member and a supporting member operatively coupled to the upper seatback member, the supporting member including a mounting plate adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle; b. a mobile seat portion moveably coupled to the fixed portion, the mobile seat portion including a seat member and a lower seatback member operatively coupled to and located between the seat member and the upper seat back member of the fixed portion; and c. a lifting mechanism operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion, the lifting mechanism comprising: i. a lifting portion located beneath the mobile seat portion and having a first member and a second member extending approximately slant to the first member, wherein the lifting portion has a front end and a rear end with a sliding mechanism; ii. a horizontal arm pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate of the fixed portion in such that the horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane; and iii. a drive mechanism connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement; wherein the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle.

2. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 1, wherein the driver seat system further comprises a motor connected to the lifting mechanism.

3. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 1, wherein the driver seat system further comprises a set of controls mounted onto the lifting mechanism and operatively connected to the motor, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system can operate the lifting mechanism to position the mobile seat portion of the driver seat system.

4. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 1, wherein the lower seatback member and the seat of the driver seat system are relatively moveable to a degree so as to change an angle α formed between the seat member and the lower seatback member.

5. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 1 further comprising a wheelchair system, wherein the wheelchair system includes: a. a wheelchair, and b. a docking mechanism including: i. a lifting portion having a horizontal member and a vertical member extending approximately normal to the horizontal member, wherein the lifting portion has a front end and a rear end, and the rear end includes a sliding mechanism; ii. a horizontal arm slidably mounted on a mounting plate secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle in such that the horizontal arm is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane; and iii. a drive mechanism connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement; and wherein the wheelchair is detachably docked with the docking mechanism, and the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the wheelchair relative to the horizontal arm in such that the wheelchair is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle from behind a driver seat thereof.

6. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 5, wherein the wheelchair system further comprises a motor connected to the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system.

7. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 5, wherein the wheelchair system further comprises a set of controls mounted onto the wheelchair and operatively coupled to the motor of the wheelchair system, whereby an occupant of the wheelchair can operate the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system when the wheelchair is docked with the docking mechanism.

8. A motor vehicle chair system comprising a driver seat system and a wheelchair system, wherein the driver seat system includes: a. a fixed portion having an upper seatback member and a supporting member operatively coupled to the upper seatback member, the supporting member including a mounting plate adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle; b. a mobile seat portion moveably coupled to the fixed portion, the mobile seat portion including a seat member and a lower seatback member operatively coupled to and located between the seat member and the upper seat back member of the fixed portion; and c. a lifting mechanism operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion, the lifting mechanism comprising: i. a lifting portion located beneath the mobile seat portion and having a first member and a second member extending approximately slant to the first member, wherein the lifting portion has a front end and a rear end, and the rear end includes a sliding mechanism; ii. a horizontal arm pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate of the fixed portion in such that the horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane; and iii. a drive mechanism connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement; wherein the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle, and wherein the wheelchair system includes: a. a wheelchair, and b. a docking mechanism including: i. a lifting portion having a horizontal member and a vertical member extending approximately normal to the horizontal member, wherein the lifting portion has a front end and a rear end, and the rear end includes a sliding mechanism; ii. a horizontal arm slidably mounted on a mounting plate secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle in such that the horizontal arm is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane; and iii. a drive mechanism connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement; and wherein the wheelchair is detachably docked with the docking mechanism, and the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the wheelchair relative to the horizontal arm in such that the wheelchair is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle from behind a driver seat thereof.

9. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 8, wherein the driver seat system further comprises a motor connected to the lifting mechanism.

10. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 8, wherein the driver seat system further comprises a set of controls mounted onto the lifting mechanism and operatively connected to the motor, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system can operate the lifting mechanism to position the mobile seat portion of the driver seat system.

11. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 8, wherein the lower seatback member and the seat of the driver seat system are relatively moveable to a degree so as to change an angle α formed between the seat member and the lower seatback member.

12. A motor vehicle chair system comprising a driver seat system, wherein the driver seat system further comprises: a. a fixed portion having a mounting plate adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle; b. a mobile seat portion moveably coupled to the fixed portion; and c. a lifting mechanism operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion, the lifting mechanism comprising: i. a lifting portion operatively connected to the mobile seat portion; ii. a horizontal arm pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate of the fixed portion in such that the horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane; and iii. a drive mechanism connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement; wherein the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle.

13. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 12, wherein the driver seat system further comprises a motor connected to the lifting mechanism.

14. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 12, wherein the driver seat system further comprises a set of controls mounted onto the lifting mechanism and operatively connected to the motor, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system can operate the lifting mechanism to position the mobile seat portion of the driver seat system.

15. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 12 further comprising a wheelchair system, wherein the wheelchair system includes: a. a wheelchair, and b. a docking mechanism including: i. a lifting portion operatively coupled to the wheelchair; ii. a horizontal arm slidably mounted on a mounting plate secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle in such that the horizontal arm is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane; and iii. a drive mechanism connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement; and wherein the wheelchair is detachably docked with the docking mechanism, and the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the wheelchair relative to the horizontal arm in such that the wheelchair is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle from behind a driver seat thereof.

16. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 15, wherein the wheelchair system further comprises a motor connected to the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system.

17. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 15, wherein the wheelchair system further comprises a set of controls mounted onto the wheelchair and operatively coupled to the motor of the wheelchair system, whereby an occupant of the wheelchair can operate the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system when the wheelchair is docked with the docking mechanism.

18. A motor vehicle chair system comprising a driver seat system and a wheelchair system, wherein the driver seat system includes: a. a fixed portion having a mounting plate adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle; b. a mobile seat portion moveably coupled to the fixed portion; and c. a lifting mechanism operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion, the lifting mechanism comprising: i. a lifting portion operatively connected to the mobile seat portion; ii. a horizontal arm pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate of the fixed portion in such that the horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane; and iii. a drive mechanism connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement; wherein the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle, and wherein the wheelchair system includes: a. a wheelchair, and b. a docking mechanism including: i. a lifting portion operatively coupled to the wheelchair; ii. a horizontal arm slidably mounted on a mounting plate secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle in such that the horizontal arm is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane; and iii. a drive mechanism connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement; and wherein the wheelchair is detachably docked with the docking mechanism, and the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the wheelchair relative to the horizontal arm in such that the wheelchair is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle from behind a driver seat thereof.

19. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 18, wherein the driver seat system further comprises a motor connected to the lifting mechanism.

20. The motor vehicle chair system of claim 18, wherein the driver seat system further comprises a set of controls mounted onto the lifting mechanism and operatively connected to the motor, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system can operate the lifting mechanism to position the mobile seat portion of the driver seat system.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §119(e), of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/765,233 filed Feb. 3, 2006, entitled “MOTOR VEHICLE CHAIR SYSTEM FOR PHYSICALLY DISABLED PERSONS” by Simon Dudai, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Some references, which may include patents, patent applications and various publications, are cited and discussed in the description of this invention. The citation and/or discussion of such references is provided merely to clarify the description of the present invention and is not an admission that any such reference is “prior art” to the invention described herein. All references cited and discussed in this specification are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties and to the same extent as if each reference was individually incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a motor vehicle chair system, and in particular relates to a mobile seat system for a wheelchair user driver and/or passenger.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Those people who have lost the ability to stand and walk, either temporarily or permanently, usually wish to remain a part of active society and move about on their own terms. Conventional wheelchairs present certain obstacles to freedom of movement, especially in situations where a wheelchair must interact with other forms of transportation. This is particularly true in relation to private vehicle transportation.

Currently available wheelchairs are not suited for seating in the driver position of a motor vehicle due to the steering wheel and the driver's door column, called the “B” column. These two interfering items prevent a wheelchair user driver from exiting the vehicle while still seated in his or her driver seat.

Therefore, a heretofore unaddressed need exists in the art to address the aforementioned deficiencies and inadequacies, especially in connection with the making of a driver seat for a wheelchair user driver that can allow the driver to exit a motor vehicle while seated in his driver seat and transfer to his power chair or manual wheelchair outside the vehicle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention, in one aspect, relates to a motor vehicle chair system for a wheelchair user driver. The motor vehicle chair system includes a driver seat system that has a fixed portion, a mobile seat portion and a lifting mechanism.

The fixed portion has an upper seatback member and a supporting member operatively coupled to the upper seatback member. The supporting member includes a mounting plate that is adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle.

The mobile seat portion is moveably coupled to the fixed portion and includes a seat member and a lower seatback member that is operatively coupled to and located between the seat member and the upper seat back member of the fixed portion.

The lifting mechanism, which is operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion, includes a lifting portion, a horizontal arm and a drive mechanism. The lifting portion is located beneath the mobile seat portion and has a first member and a second member that extends approximately slant to first member. In addition, the lifting portion has a front end and a rear end that includes a sliding mechanism. The horizontal arm is pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate of the fixed portion in such that the horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism is connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement. Moreover, the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle.

Additionally, the driver seat system comprises a motor that is connected to the lifting mechanism. Furthermore, a set of controls is mounted onto the lifting mechanism and operatively connected to the motor, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system can operate the lifting mechanism to position the mobile seat portion of the driver seat system.

Optionally, the lower seatback member and the seat of the driver seat system are relatively moveable to a degree so as to change an angle formed between the seat member and the lower seatback member.

In one embodiment, the motor vehicle chair system of the present invention further comprises a wheelchair system that includes a wheelchair and a docking mechanism. The docking mechanism comprises a lifting portion, a horizontal arm and a drive mechanism. The lifting portion has a horizontal member and a vertical member extending approximately normal to the horizontal member, and a front end and a rear end with a sliding mechanism. The horizontal arm is slidably mounted on a mounting plate that is secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle in such that the horizontal arm is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism is connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement. Moreover, the wheelchair is detachably docked with the docking mechanism, and the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm, whereby the drive mechanism moves the wheelchair relative to the horizontal arm in such that the wheelchair is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle from behind a driver seat thereof.

Additionally, the wheelchair system further includes a motor that is connected to the docking mechanism thereof. Furthermore, a set of controls is mounted onto the wheelchair and operatively coupled to the motor of the wheelchair system, whereby an occupant of the wheelchair can operate the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system when the wheelchair is docked with the docking mechanism.

Another embodiment of the present invention is a motor vehicle chair system that comprises a driver seat system and a wheelchair system, each having respective features as identified above.

Yet another embodiment of the present invention relates to a motor vehicle chair system having a driver seat system that includes components as follows. The driver seat system includes a fixed portion, a mobile seat portion and a lifting mechanism. The fixed portion includes a mounting plate that is adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle. The mobile seat portion is moveably coupled to the fixed portion, and the lifting mechanism is operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion. Moreover, the lifting mechanism includes a lifting portion, a horizontal arm and a drive mechanism. The lifting portion is operatively connected to the mobile seat portion. The horizontal arm is pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate of the fixed portion in such that the horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism is connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement. Furthermore, the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle.

Another embodiment of the present invention relates to a motor vehicle chair system comprising a wheelchair system that includes a wheelchair and a docking mechanism. The docking mechanism comprises a lifting portion, a horizontal arm and a drive mechanism. The lifting portion is operatively coupled to the wheelchair. The horizontal arm is slidably mounted on a mounting plate, which is secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle, in such that the horizontal arm is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism is connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement. Moreover, the wheelchair is detachably docked with the docking mechanism, and the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the wheelchair relative to the horizontal arm in such that the wheelchair is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle from behind a driver seat thereof. The wheelchair system further includes a motor that is connected to the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system. A set of controls is mounted onto the wheelchair and operatively coupled to the motor of the wheelchair system, whereby an occupant of the wheelchair can operate the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system when the wheelchair is docked with the docking mechanism.

Yet in another embodiment, the present invention relates to a motor vehicle chair system comprising a driver seat system and a wheelchair system as follows:

The driver seat system includes a fixed portion, a mobile seat portion and a lifting mechanism. The fixed portion includes a mounting plate that is adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle. The mobile seat portion is moveably coupled to the fixed portion, and the lifting mechanism is operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion. Moreover, the lifting mechanism includes a lifting portion, a horizontal arm and a drive mechanism. The lifting portion is operatively connected to the mobile seat portion. The horizontal arm is pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate of the fixed portion in such that the horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism is connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement. Furthermore, the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle. Additionally, a motor is connected to the lifting mechanism of driver seat system, and a set of controls is mounted onto the lifting mechanism and operatively connected to the motor, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system can operate the lifting mechanism to position the mobile seat portion of the driver seat system.

The wheelchair system includes a wheelchair and a docking mechanism. The docking mechanism comprises a lifting portion, a horizontal arm and a drive mechanism. The lifting portion is operatively coupled to the wheelchair. The horizontal arm is slidably mounted on a mounting plate secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle in such that the horizontal arm is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism is connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement. Moreover, wheelchair is detachably docked with the docking mechanism, and the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the wheelchair relative to the horizontal arm in such that the wheelchair is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle from behind a driver seat thereof. The wheelchair system further includes a motor that is connected to the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system. A set of controls is mounted onto the wheelchair and operatively coupled to the motor of the wheelchair system, whereby an occupant of the wheelchair can operate the docking mechanism of the wheelchair system when the wheelchair is docked with the docking mechanism.

Therefore, the present invention relates to a motor vehicle chair system that allows a wheelchair user to get in and out of his or her vehicle in less than a few minutes and without assistance. Moreover, the present invention relates to a driver seat system that can easily transform an existing car seat into a motorized retractable swivel seat, and be installed in the driver position as well as in the passenger position of a motor vehicle.

These and other aspects will become apparent from the following description of the preferred embodiment taken in conjunction with the following drawings, although variations and modifications therein may be affected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the disclosure.

The accompanying drawings illustrate one or more embodiments of the invention and, together with the written description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers are used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like elements of an embodiment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A illustrates a side view of a wheelchair chair system inside a motor vehicle in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention showing a wheelchair secured on a docking mechanism.

FIG. 1B illustrates a side view of the wheelchair chair system of FIG. 1A, showing the wheelchair is moved outside the vehicle with the wheelchair positioned upon a fully deployed lifting mechanism with a horizontal arm being secured inside a vehicle.

FIG. 2 illustrates a motor vehicle chair system inside a motor vehicle in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention showing a side view of a driver seat system and a front view of the wheelchair system of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 3A illustrates a motor vehicle chair system of FIG. 2 showing a side view of a fully deployed mobile seat portion and a front view of a fixed portion of the driver seat system of FIG. 2.

FIG. 3B illustrates a front view of the driver seat system of FIG. 2 being positioned inside a motor vehicle.

FIG. 4 is a diagram showing the deployed mobile seat portion being positioned next to a deployed wheelchair, which allows a wheelchair user driver to change seating from the deployed mobile seat portion to the wheelchair, or vice versa.

FIG. 5 is a diagram showing the steps for operating the motor vehicle chair system of FIG. 2 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention: Step (A) shows the driver seat system and wheelchair system of FIG. 2 positioned inside a motor vehicle; step (B) shows the wheelchair being deployed out of the vehicle by a docking mechanism thereof; step (C) shows the wheelchair being lowered to the ground by the docking mechanism; step (D) shows the mobile seat section being deployed out of the vehicle, lowed to the ground and positioned next to the wheelchair so that a wheelchair user driver may switch seating from the mobile seat portion to the wheelchair.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is more particularly described in the following examples that are intended as illustrative only since numerous modifications and variations therein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Various embodiments of the invention are now described in detail. As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of “a”, “an”, and “the” includes plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Also, as used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of “in” includes “in” and “on” unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Moreover, the term “horizontal,” as used herein, refers to “parallel to level ground.” The term “vertical,” as used herein, refers to being in a position or direction perpendicular to the plane of the horizon; upright.

The description will be made as to the embodiments of the present invention in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of FIGS. 1-5. In accordance with the present invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, this invention in one aspect relates to a motor vehicle chair system having a driver seat system. The driver seat system includes a fixed portion, a mobile seat portion, and a lifting mechanism. The fixed portion includes a mounting plate that is adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle. The mobile seat portion is moveably coupled to the fixed portion, and the lifting mechanism is operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion.

Moreover, the lifting mechanism includes a lifting portion, a horizontal arm and a drive mechanism. The lifting portion is operatively connected to the mobile seat portion. The horizontal arm, is pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate of the fixed portion in such that the horizontal arm is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism is connected to the horizontal arm and operatively coupled to the lifting portion for horizontal and vertical movement. Furthermore, the lifting portion is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm whereby the drive mechanism moves the mobile seat portion relative to the horizontal arm in such that the mobile seat portion is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle.

Referring now to FIGS. 1A and 1B, depicted is one embodiment of a motor vehicle chair system 200 comprising a wheelchair chair system 100 according to one aspect of the present invention. FIG. 1A illustrates a side view of a wheelchair chair system 100 inside a motor vehicle 180 showing a wheelchair 110 secured on a docking mechanism 120. FIG. 1B illustrates a side view of the wheelchair chair system 200 of FIG. 1A, showing the wheelchair 110 is deployed outside the motor vehicle 180 while positioned upon a fully deployed docking mechanism 120 with a horizontal arm 130 being secured inside vehicle 180.

The wheelchair system 100 includes a wheelchair 110 and a docking mechanism 120 with a lifting portion 122, a horizontal arm 130 and a drive mechanism 134.

The lifting portion 122 has a horizontal member 124 and a vertical member 126 that extends approximately normal to the horizontal member 124. In addition, the lifting portion 122 has a front end 128 and a rear end 130, and the rear end 130 includes a sliding mechanism 150.

The horizontal arm 130 is slidably mounted on a mounting plate 132 that is secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle 180 in such that the horizontal arm 130 is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane.

The drive mechanism 134 is connected to the horizontal arm 130 and operatively coupled to the lifting portion 122 for horizontal and vertical movement. The wheelchair 110 is detachably docked with the docking mechanism 120, and the lifting portion 122 is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm 130 whereby the drive mechanism 134 moves the wheelchair 110 relative to the horizontal arm 130 in such that the wheelchair 110 is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle 180 from behind a driver seat thereof.

A motor 160 is connected to the docking mechanism 120 of the wheelchair system 100. A set of controls 162 are mounted onto the wheelchair 110 and operatively coupled to the motor 160 of the wheelchair system 100 whereby an occupant of the wheelchair 110 can operate the docking mechanism 120 of the wheelchair system 100 when the wheelchair 110 is docked with the docking mechanism 120.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a motor vehicle chair system 200 is shown being positioned inside a motor vehicle. The motor vehicle chair system 200 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention comprises a driver seat system 210 and a wheelchair system 100. The driver seat system 210 has a fixed portion 220, a mobile seat portion 230 and a lifting mechanism 320.

The fixed portion 220 of driver seat system 210 has an upper seatback member 222 and a supporting member 310 that is operatively coupled to upper seatback member 222. Supporting member 310 includes a mounting plate 312 that is adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle 180.

The mobile seat portion 230 of driver seat system 210 is moveably coupled to the fixed portion 220. Mobile seat portion 230 includes a seat member 232 and a lower seatback member 234 that is operatively coupled to and located between seat member 232 and upper seat back member 222 of the fixed portion 220.

The lifting mechanism 320 of driver seat system 210, which is operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion 230, includes a lifting portion 340, a horizontal arm 360 and a drive mechanism 380. The lifting portion 340 is located beneath the mobile seat portion 230 and has a first member 342 and a second member 344 extending approximately slant to the first member 342. The lifting portion 340 has a front end 346 and a rear end 348 that includes a sliding mechanism 350. The horizontal arm 360 is pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate 312, which is secured on the floor of vehicle 180, of the fixed portion 220 in such that the horizontal arm 360 is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism 380 is connected to the horizontal arm 360 and operatively coupled to the lifting portion 340 for horizontal and vertical movement. Moreover, the lifting portion 340 is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm 360 whereby the drive mechanism 380 moves the mobile seat portion 230 relative to the horizontal arm 360 in such that the mobile seat portion 230 is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle.

A motor 240 is connected to the lifting mechanism 320 of the driver seat system 210. Additionally, a set of controls 246 is mounted onto the lifting mechanism 320 and operatively connected to the motor 240, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system 210 can operate the lifting mechanism 320 to position the mobile seat portion 230 of the driver seat system 210.

In one embodiment, the lower seatback member 234 and the seat of the driver seat system 210 are relatively moveable to a degree so as to change an angle α formed between the seat member 232 and the lower seatback member 234.

Now referring to FIG. 3A, a fully deployed mobile seat portion 230 exits motor vehicle 180 with fixed portion 220 including remaining upper seatback 222 secured onto mounting plate 312 mounted on the floor of vehicle 180. Driver seat system 210 may thereafter be re-positioned within motor vehicle 180, as depicted in FIG. 3B.

The structure of the docking mechanism 120 of wheelchair system 100 and that of the lifting mechanism 320 of driver seat system 210 are generally similar. Particular details about the specific features and parts of the structures and making are provided in U.S. Pat. No. 6,821,078, entitled “MOTOR VEHICLE CHAIR SYSTEM FOR PHYSICALLY DISABLED PERSONS,” issued Nov. 23, 2004, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. One skilled in the art may appreciate that any other means, structures or configurations that can perform the functions described herein may also be used.

In one embodiment, the present invention relates to a motor vehicle chair system comprising a driver seat system 210 that includes a fixed portion 220, a mobile seat portion 230 and a lifting mechanism 320. The fixed portion 220 includes a mounting plate 312 that is adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle. The mobile seat portion 230 is moveably coupled to the fixed portion 220, and the lifting mechanism 320 is operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion 230.

Moreover, the lifting mechanism 320 includes a lifting portion 340, a horizontal arm 360 and a drive mechanism 380. The lifting portion 340 is operatively connected to the mobile seat portion 230. The horizontal arm 360 is pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate 312 of the fixed portion 220 in such that the horizontal arm 360 is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism 380 is connected to the horizontal arm 360 and operatively coupled to the lifting portion 340 for horizontal and vertical movement. Furthermore, the lifting portion 340 is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm 360 whereby the drive mechanism 380 moves the mobile seat portion 230 relative to the horizontal arm 360 in such that the mobile seat portion 230 is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle. Additionally, a motor 240 is connected to the lifting mechanism 320 of driver seat system 210, and a set of controls 246 is mounted onto the lifting mechanism 320 and operatively connected to the motor 240, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system 210 can operate the lifting mechanism 320 to position the mobile seat portion 230 of the driver seat system 210.

Another embodiment of the present invention relates to a motor vehicle chair system comprising a wheelchair system 100 that includes a wheelchair 110 and a docking mechanism 120. The docking mechanism 120 comprises a lifting portion 122, a horizontal arm 130 and a drive mechanism 134.

The lifting portion 122 is operatively coupled to the wheelchair 110. The horizontal arm 130 is slidably mounted on a mounting plate 132 that is secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle 180 in such that the horizontal arm 130 is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism 134 is connected to the horizontal arm 130 and operatively coupled to the lifting portion 122 for horizontal and vertical movement. Moreover, wheelchair 110 is detachably docked with the docking mechanism 120, and the lifting portion 122 is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm 130 whereby the drive mechanism 134 moves the wheelchair 110 relative to the horizontal arm 130 in such that the wheelchair 110 is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle 180 from behind a driver seat thereof. The wheelchair system 210 further includes a motor 160 that is connected to the docking mechanism 120 of the wheelchair system 100. A set of controls 162 is mounted onto the wheelchair 11(0 and operatively coupled to the motor 160 of the wheelchair system 100, whereby an occupant of the wheelchair 110 can operate the docking mechanism 120 of the wheelchair system 100 when the wheelchair 110 is docked with the docking mechanism 120.

Yet in another embodiment, the present invention relates to a motor vehicle chair system comprising a driver seat system 210 and a wheelchair system 100 as follows:

The driver seat system 210 includes a fixed portion 220, a mobile seat portion 230 and a lifting mechanism 320. The fixed portion 220 includes a mounting plate 312 that is adapted to be mounted onto floor of a motor vehicle. The mobile seat portion 230 is moveably coupled to the fixed portion 220, and the lifting mechanism 320 is operatively coupled to the mobile seat portion 230. Moreover, the lifting mechanism 320 includes a lifting portion 340, a horizontal arm 360 and a drive mechanism 380. The lifting portion 340 is operatively connected to the mobile seat portion 230. The horizontal arm 360 is pivotably and slidably mounted on the mounting plate 312 of the fixed portion 220 in such that the horizontal arm 360 is capable of pivoting and sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism 380 is connected to the horizontal arm 360 and operatively coupled to the lifting portion 340 for horizontal and vertical movement. Furthermore, the lifting portion 340 is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm 360 whereby the drive mechanism 380 moves the mobile seat portion 230 relative to the horizontal arm 360 in such that the mobile seat portion 230 is capable of swiveling around within a space between a steering wheel and B column, moving horizontally and vertically and exiting and re-entering a motor vehicle. Additionally, a motor 240 is connected to the lifting mechanism 320 of driver seat system 210, and a set of controls 246 is mounted onto the lifting mechanism 320 and operatively connected to the motor 240, whereby an occupant of the driver seat system 210 can operate the lifting mechanism 320 to position the mobile seat portion 230 of the driver seat system 210.

The wheelchair system 100 includes a wheelchair 110 and a docking mechanism 120. The docking mechanism 120 comprises a lifting portion 122, a horizontal arm 130 and a drive mechanism 134. The lifting portion 122 is operatively coupled to the wheelchair 110. The horizontal arm 130 is slidably mounted on a mounting plate 132 that is secured onto floor behind the driver seat of the motor vehicle 180 in such that the horizontal arm 130 is capable of sliding in a generally horizontal plane. The drive mechanism 134 is connected to the horizontal arm 130 and operatively coupled to the lifting portion 122 for horizontal and vertical movement. Moreover, wheelchair 110 is detachably docked with the docking mechanism 120, and the lifting portion 122 is operatively coupled to the horizontal arm 130 whereby the drive mechanism 134 moves the wheelchair 110 relative to the horizontal arm 130 in such that the wheelchair 110 is capable of exiting and/or entering the motor vehicle 180 from behind a driver seat thereof. The wheelchair system 210 further includes a motor 160 that is connected to the docking mechanism 120 of the wheelchair system 100. A set of controls 162 is mounted onto the wheelchair 110 and operatively coupled to the motor 160 of the wheelchair system 100, whereby an occupant of the wheelchair 110 can operate the docking mechanism 120 of the wheelchair system 100 when the wheelchair 110 is docked with the docking mechanism 120.

Now referring to FIG. 4, a deployed driver seat system 210 is positioned next to a deployed wheelchair system 100, which allows a wheelchair user driver to change seating from the deployed mobile seat portion to the wheelchair, or vice versa.

FIG. 5 illustrates the steps for operation of the motor vehicle chair system of FIG. 2 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention: Step (A) shows a driver seat system 210 and wheelchair system 100 of FIG. 2 inside a motor vehicle 180. Step (B) shows a wheelchair being deployed out of the vehicle 180 by a docking mechanism thereof; Step (C) shows the wheelchair is lowered to the ground by the docking lifting mechanism; Step (D) The mobile seat section is deployed out of the vehicle 180 and positioned next to the wheelchair so that a wheelchair user driver may switch seating from the mobile seat portion to the wheelchair.

In summary, the present invention, among other things, provides a motor vehicle chair system that allows a wheelchair user driver to get in and out of his or her motor vehicle in less than a few minutes without assistance. The driver seat system of the present invention can easily transform an existing car seat into a motorized retractable swivel seat, and can be installed in the driver position as well as in the passenger position of a motor vehicle. It can be installed in any size van and large or small SUVs. Moreover, the driver seat system of the present invention can easily combine with a motorized wheelchair of an individual's preference to provide a complete mobility solution.

The foregoing description of the exemplary embodiments of the invention has been presented only for the purposes of illustration and description and is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching.

The embodiments were chosen and described in order to explain the principles of the invention and their practical application so as to enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention and various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. Alternative embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which the present invention pertains without departing from its spirit and scope. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention is defined by the appended claims rather than the foregoing description and the exemplary embodiments described therein.