Title:
MOVABLE HEAD RESTRAINT FOR IMPROVED VISION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Various head restraints are disclosed, such as one embodiment with a central head restraint portion extending from a vehicle seat back for supporting a head of an occupant. A lateral head restraint portion is oriented at a lateral side of the central head restraint portion for also supporting the head of the occupant. An actuator cooperates with the lateral head restraint portion for moving the lateral head restraint portion out of a lateral line of sight of the occupant in response to an input from the vehicle.



Inventors:
Yetukuri, Arjun V. (Rochester Hills, MI, US)
Patwardhan, Vikas (Lynnwood, WA, US)
Locke, Gerald S. (Lake Orion, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/538942
Publication Date:
08/07/2008
Filing Date:
10/05/2006
Assignee:
LEAR CORPORATION (Southfield, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCPARTLIN, SARAH BURNHAM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BROOKS KUSHMAN P.C. / LEAR CORPORATION (SOUTHFIELD, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A head restraint for a vehicle seat comprising: a central head restraint portion extending from a seat back of a vehicle seat for supporting a head of an occupant seated upon the vehicle seat; at least one lateral head restraint portion oriented at a lateral side of the central head restraint portion for supporting the head of the occupant, the lateral head restraint portion being movable relative to the central head restraint portion; and an actuator in operable engagement with the lateral head restraint portion for moving the lateral head restraint portion out of a lateral line of sight of the occupant in response to an input from the vehicle.

2. The head restraint of claim 1 further comprising a second lateral head restraint portion oriented at another lateral side of the central head restraint portion spaced apart from the other lateral head restraint portion, for supporting the head of the occupant, the second lateral head restraint portion being movable relative to the central head restraint portion, the second lateral head restraint portion being in operable engagement with the actuator for being moved by the actuator in response to an input from the occupant.

3. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the input is generated in response to the occupant actuating a gear shifter into reverse so that the lateral head restraint portion moves out of the lateral line of vision for improving the view of the occupant for driving in reverse.

4. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the input is generated in response to the occupant actuating a turn signal indicator so that the lateral head restraint portion moves out of the lateral line of vision for improving the view of the occupant to a lateral side of the vehicle.

5. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the input is provided by a processor of the vehicle, which receives a signal from the occupant.

6. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the lateral head restraint portion moves laterally and rearward relative to the central head restraint portion.

7. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the actuator further comprises a solenoid.

8. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the lateral head restraint portion is mounted on a track on the central head restraint portion for movement relative to the central head restraint portion.

9. The head restraint of claim 1 further comprising a biasing member in operable engagement with the central head restraint portion and the lateral head restraint portion for maintaining the lateral head restraint portion in a rest position in absence of actuation by the actuator.

10. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the actuator further comprises a cable mounted to the lateral head restraint portion and the central head restraint portion for moving the lateral head restraint portion relative to the central head restraint portion.

11. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the lateral head restraint portion is pivotally connected to the central head restraint portion for rotary movement relative to central head restraint portion.

12. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the lateral head restraint portion is retractable within the central head restraint portion.

13. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the actuator further comprises a rotary solenoid.

14. The head restraint of claim 1 wherein the actuator further comprises a slider-crank mechanism for moving the lateral head restraint portion.

15. The head restraint of claim 1 further comprising a stationary lateral head restraint portion, wherein the movable lateral head restraint portion telescopes relative to the stationary lateral head restraint portion.

16. The head restraint of claim 15 wherein the stationary lateral head restraint portion is oriented beneath the movable head restraint portion.

17. The head restraint of claim 15 wherein the stationary lateral head restraint portion is oriented rearward of the movable head restraint portion.

18. The head restraint of claim 15 wherein the movable lateral head restraint portion telescopes into the stationary lateral head restraint portion.

19. A head restraint for a vehicle seat comprising: a rod adapted to extend from a seatback; a head restraint mounted to the rod for lateral movement relative to the seatback; and an actuator in operable engagement with the rod and the head restraint for moving the head restraint laterally in response to an input from the occupant.

20. A vehicle seat comprising: a seat bottom for supporting an occupant seated thereon; a seat back oriented adjacent to the seat bottom for supporting a back of the occupant; a central head restraint portion extending from the seat back of a vehicle seat for supporting a head of the occupant seated upon the vehicle seat; a pair of lateral head restraint portions, each oriented at one of a pair of lateral sides of the central head restraint portion for supporting the head of the occupant, the pair of lateral head restraint portions each being movable relative to the central head restraint portion; and an actuator in operable engagement with the pair of lateral head restraint portions for moving the lateral head restraint portions out of a lateral line of sight of the occupant in response to an input from the vehicle.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to head restraints for vehicle seats.

2. Background Art

Head restraints for vehicle seats are provided for comfort and safety of an occupant. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,590,993, which issued on Jan. 7, 1997 discloses a head restraint for a vehicle seat.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top plan schematic view illustrating a vehicle interior with a head restraint of a vehicle seat in cooperation with an occupant and in cooperation with a vehicle system according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front elevation view of a partially disassembled head restraint embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the head restraint of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is another front elevation view of the vehicle head restraint of FIG. 2, illustrated in another position thereof;

FIG. 5 is a front elevation schematic view of another head restraint embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of another head restraint embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a top plan schematic view of the head restraint of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a top plan schematic view of yet another vehicle head restraint embodiment in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a front elevation schematic view of another vehicle head restraint embodiment in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 10 is a top plan schematic view of yet another vehicle head restraint embodiment in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention that may be embodied in various and alternative forms. The figures are not necessarily to scale; some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a representative basis for the claims and/or as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention.

Referring now to FIG. 1, an automotive environment, such as a vehicle interior is illustrated and referenced generally by numeral 20. The vehicle interior 20 is also illustrated in cooperation with the vehicle system 22. The vehicle interior 20 illustrates a front row of seats 24 and a rear row of seats 26. The front row of seats 24 is illustrated with a driver seat 28 and a passenger seat 30. The vehicle interior arrangement is one embodiment of a vehicle interior arrangement for transporting passengers upon multiple seats within the vehicle interior 20, such as within an automotive vehicle.

A driver seat 28 is illustrated with a seat bottom 32 mounted to a floor of the vehicle interior 20. A seat back 34 extends from the seat bottom 32. The seat bottom 32 supports an occupant O seated thereon; and the seat back 34 supports a back of the occupant O resting against the seat back 34.

A head restraint 36 is provided extending from the seat back 34 for supporting a head of the occupant O for comfort and safety. In the advent of continual development of safety features, head restraints, such as the head restraint 36 are gradually being designed to be oriented closer to the head of the occupant. As head restraints are designed closer to the head of the occupant, a range of lateral sight of the occupant is reduced.

For example, and referring to FIG. 1, the occupant O is provided with an outboard range of lateral line sight θ. The range of lateral line sight θ is bounded at a forward region by an A-pillar of the vehicle and is bounded in a rearward region by the head restraint 36. Likewise, the occupant O has a lateral range of vision φ in the direction of the passenger seat 30. The range of lateral vision φ is bounded in the forward direction by an A-pillar on the passenger side, and is bounded in the rearward direction by the head restraint 36. As head restraints, such as head restraint 36, are designed in close proximity to the occupant, the lateral ranges of vision θ, φ are consequently reduced. Although safety is improved due to the evolving designs of head restraints, a lateral range of sight may be reduced thereby imposing difficulties on the occupant O, such as discomfort in peering around the head restraint or reduction in safety by blocking the occupant's lateral line of sight.

In order to enhance the lateral ranges θ, φ of sight of the occupant O, without detracting from the safety provided by the head restraint 36, the head restraint 36 includes movable lateral portions 38, 40, which may translate linearly, for enhancing the lateral ranges of vision θ, φ to enlarged lateral ranges of vision θ′, φ′. Additionally, the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40 may move automatically when desired. For example, the occupant O may require large lateral ranges of vision while turning, changing lanes or reversing. Accordingly, the head restraint 36 may move the lateral portions 38, 40 during such operations of the vehicle system 22. The lateral portions 38, 40 may be movable padded portions or may be inflatable air bladders.

The head restraint 36 may include an actuator (such as actuator 60 described below with reference to FIG. 2), which receives a signal from the vehicle system 22 for actuating one or both of the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. For example, the vehicle system 22 may include a central processing unit (CPU) 42 in electrical communication with the seat 28 for providing a signal to the head restraint 36 for powering one or both of the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40.

Driving in reverse is one common operating condition wherein rearward lateral vision is beneficial. Accordingly, a gear shifter 44 that is in communication with a transmission 46 of the vehicle system 22, may generate a signal directly to the seat 28 or via the CPU 42 for moving the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. The reverse operation may move the inboard lateral head restraint portion 40 for enhancing the occupant's lateral range of vision φ′ for looking out a rear window while driving in reverse. Alternatively, the reverse operation may move both lateral head restraint portions 38, 40 so that both ranges of lateral vision θ′, φ′ are enlarged in the rearward direction. Of course, the invention contemplates that the ranges of lateral vision θ′, φ′ may be shifted, for improved rearward vision, without enlarging the ranges.

Other driving conditions that may benefit from improved rearward vision in the lateral ranges θ′, φ′ include turning or changing lanes wherein the occupant O may look rearward for checking the existence of other vehicles. Thus, a turn indicator lever 48 may be provided in the vehicle interior 20 for actuation by the occupant O. The turn indicator lever 48 communicates electronically with turn indicators 50 of the vehicle system 22 for displaying a visual signal to adjacent or proximate vehicles, thereby indicating the occupant's intention to change lanes or turn the vehicle. The turn indicator lever 48 may communicate with the turn indicators 50 directly or via the CPU 42. Likewise, the turn indicator lever 48 may also provide a signal to the seat 28 for actuating the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. Thus, as the occupant O decides to turn left and signals such intention by actuation of the turn indicator lever 48, the left lateral head restraint portion 38 may move to improve the occupant's outboard lateral range of vision θ′. Also, if the occupant O decides to turn right or move to a right lane, actuation of the turn indicator lever 48 generates an input that moves the inboard lateral head restraint portion 40 thereby improving the occupant's inboard lateral range of vision φ′. Alternatively, both lateral head restraint portions 38, 40 may be actuated in response to either signal of turn direction indication.

There are some conditions wherein the occupant O may turn or change lanes without actuating the turn indicator lever 48. Accordingly, the CPU 42 may monitor steering conditions of the vehicle, such as a steering angle of a steering wheel 51. If the steering wheel 51 is rotated a predetermined amount, the CPU 42 may communicate with the head restraint actuator for moving the corresponding lateral head restraint portion 38, 40.

Although various examples and conditions are illustrated and described for moving the head restraint 36, the invention contemplates that various other conditions are contemplated within the spirit and scope of the present invention and corresponding inputs may be provided to the head restraint 36 for moving the head restraint 36 or a portion of the head restraint 36 for enhancing the occupant's vision.

With reference now to FIGS. 2 and 3, one embodiment of the head restraint 36 is illustrated in greater detail. The head restraint 36 is illustrated with a pair of laterally spaced rods 52 that are mounted to the seat back 34 for extending the head restraint 36 above the seat back 34. The rods 52 support a stationary center bun 54 of the head restraint 36, which is illustrated partially disassembled with a front housing portion removed from a rear housing portion 55. The center bun 54 is padded on a side 56 facing the occupant for comfort and safety of the occupant O and the padding and cover are disassembled in FIGS. 2-4 to reveal otherwise concealed components of the head restraint 36. Additionally, the rods 52 may be formed integrally with a central transverse portion that is received within a torque control 57 of the rear housing portion 55 for limited tilt adjustment of the head restraint 36 relative to the rods 52 about a horizontal axis. Alternatively, the head restraint 36 may be incorporated into the seat back 38, such as in an integrated seat, or in a sport seat, which often do not utilize rods 52.

The rear housing portion 55 of the center bun 54 has an inner cavity 58 with a rotary solenoid 60 disposed therein, which may be powered by a cable 62 extending through one of the rods 52. The solenoid may also receive a signal from the vehicle system 22 through the cable 62 or by a wireless signal transmitted by the vehicle system 22.

In one embodiment, two pairs of tracks 64, 65, 66, 67 are displaced within the inner cavity 58 of the center bun 54 for providing a guide for lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. Each lateral head restraint portion 38, 40 is provided with a bracket 68 extending from the backside with a pair of keys 69, 70 extending into the tracks, such as tracks 64, 65 illustrated in FIG. 3. The lateral head restraint portions 38, 40 are both illustrated in FIG. 2 as a pair of padded lateral side buns, which are each sized to extend from the stationary center bun 54 during an ordinary driving operation as illustrated in FIG. 2.

The solenoid 60 is illustrated driving a pair of slider-crank mechanisms 71, 72 for moving the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. For example, the solenoid 60 may drive a primary link 73 for rotation about its center, and which is pivotally connected to a pair of links 74, 75. Each link 74, 75 is also pivotally connected to one of the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. Thus, in response to a signal indicating that the vehicle system 22 is in a reverse or turn indication mode, the solenoid 60 is driven clockwise in FIG. 2 thereby driving link 74 to the left, and link 75 to the right, for moving the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40 upon the brackets 68 and keys 69, 70 along the tracks 64, 65, 66, 67. As the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40 are moved, they retract into the center bun 54 as illustrated in FIG. 4.

In the retracted orientation depicted in FIG. 4, both lateral viewing ranges θ, φ are improved to ranges θ′, φ′. Once the occupant O shifts the vehicle out of reverse, or discontinues turn signal indication, the solenoid 60 may rotate counterclockwise thereby driving the links 74, 75 outward for returning the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40 to an ordinary design position of FIG. 2. Alternatively, the rotary solenoid 60 may be provided with a mechanical return, such as a spring return, for automatically returning the head restraint portions 38, 40 in the absence of the signal.

The tracks 64, 65 on the right side of FIG. 2 are offset vertically upward from center for providing clearance for the link 74. Likewise, the tracks 66, 67 shown on the left side of FIG. 2 are offset vertically downward from center for providing clearance for the associated link 75. Thus a compact head restraint center bun 54 may be provided with the moving lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. For additional stability, the bracket 68 may extend further inboard in cooperation with the tracks 66, 67, as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 2. The bracket 68 may include a cutout for clearance of the solenoid 60. Various and alternative tracks may be employed in various directions within the spirit and scope of the present invention for improving the occupant's range of vision.

In one embodiment, the brackets 68 are formed from a high strength plastic; and the tracks 64, 65, 66, 67 are also formed from a high strength plastic. Of course, any suitable material may be utilized to form the brackets 68 and tracks 64, 65, 66, 67. The invention contemplates that bearing assemblies such as ball bearings or roller bearings may be utilized for reducing friction between the cooperating brackets 68 and tracks 64, 65, 66, 67. Likewise, any suitable friction reducing engagement may be employed within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Although a solenoid 60 is illustrated for actuating the embodiment of FIGS. 2-4, the invention contemplates utilization of any suitable actuator within the spirit and scope of the present invention, such as a motor, cylinder, air bladder or an electromechanical actuator. The invention also contemplates actuators of various power sources including electric and pneumatic. Although the solenoid 60 is described as a rotary solenoid 60, the invention contemplates various solenoids. For example the solenoid could be a linear solenoid connected to one of the links, such as link 74, for driving the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. The primary link 73 could be pivotally connected to the rear housing portion 55 for facilitating actuation of both head restraint portions 38, 40 concurrently.

Although the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40 are illustrated extending to a laterally outboard position in FIG. 2, the invention contemplates that the center bun 54 could include a laterally outboard portion 76, illustrated in phantom in FIG. 2. The laterally outboard portion 76 is provided with a window 77 that is filled with the lateral head restraint portion 40 in the design position of FIG. 2. Once the lateral head restraint portion 40 is retracted as illustrated in FIG. 4, the occupant O is provided with improved rearward vision through the window 77. The laterally outboard portion 76 and window 77 may be provided on both lateral sides of the center bun 54.

The invention contemplates that a lock may be provided to prevent manual movement of the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40. Thus, the actuator or linkage may disengage the lock and subsequently move the lateral head restraint portions 38, 40.

For illustrative purposes only, a non-limiting example of dimensions for the head restraint 36 may include an overall width of the head restraint 36 in the ordinary design position of twenty-five centimeters plus suitable tolerances and an overall width of the head restraint 36 in the retracted position of FIG. 4 of seventeen centimeters plus suitable tolerances.

With reference now to FIG. 5, another head restraint 78 embodiment is illustrated within the spirit and scope of the present invention. The head restraint 78 includes a rod 79 with a pair of distal ends that extend into the seat back 34. A linear solenoid 80 is mounted to the rod 79. The linear solenoid 80 has a shaft 81 that extends from one lateral direction, the right side, of the solenoid 80. The shaft 81 is secured to a frame 82 of a padded right side head restraint bun 83. The frame 82 is mounted to the rod 79 for lateral movement along the rod 79.

Another frame 84 is mounted to the right side frame 82 for movement relative to the right side frame 82. The left side frame 84 supports a padded left side head restraint bun 85, which can partially telescope within a recess 86 of the right side bun 83. A spring 87 is mounted to the frames 82, 84 to maintain the head restraint buns 83, 85 in a design position as illustrated in FIG. 5. Additionally, a stop 88 extends from the left side bun 85 for engaging the rod 79 in a limit of a range of travel of the left side bun 85 in the left direction.

The head restraint 78 operates in communication with the vehicle system 22 similar to the prior embodiment. In response to the left turn signal, the solenoid 80 moves the shaft 81 to the right, which shifts the right side frame 82 and head restraint bun 83 to the right in FIG. 5. Due to the connection of the head restraint buns 83, 85 through the spring 87, the left side head restraint bun 85 travels to the right in FIG. 5 as well, thereby improving the occupant's left side range of lateral vision θ′. In response to a right turn signal, the solenoid 80 moves the shaft 81 leftward in FIG. 5 thereby moving the shaft 81, frame 82 and right side head restraint bun 83 to the left for improving the occupant's right side range of lateral vision φ′. The left side head restraint bun 85 may be constrained from movement to the left of the design position due to the stop 88, such that the recess 86 receives a portion of the left side bun 85 within the right side bun 83 as the right side bun 83 travels.

In response to a reverse gear signal, the solenoid 80 moves the right side head restraint bun 83 to the left in FIG. 5 for improving the right side lateral range of vision φ′, which is utilized for viewing rearward of the vehicle interior 20. Due to the constrainment of the left side bun 85 from leftward travel, the left side bun 85 remains in the design position to avoid impairing the range of left side lateral vision θ, which may be employed when driving the vehicle in reverse.

In an alternative embodiment, the frames 82, 84 may be formed integrally and the head restraint buns 83, 85 may be formed integrally for uniform travel. The linear solenoid 80 may have a lengthwise shaft 81 that extends from both lateral directions of the solenoid 80. Both shaft ends 81 may be secured to the frames 82, 84. In another alternative embodiment, a lock may be provided to prevent manual movement of the head restraint buns 83, 85.

In one embodiment, the head restraint 78 has a lateral width of seventeen centimeters (plus suitable tolerances) plus the overall length of travel so that when either head restraint bun 83, 85 is moved, the shortened lateral side of the head restraint bun 83, 85 relative to center of the head restraint 78 is eighty-five millimeters plus suitable tolerances.

Referring now to FIG. 6, another embodiment head restraint 90 is illustrated in accordance with the present invention. The head restraint 90 includes a center bun 92 and a pair of lateral buns 94, 96 each oriented on one lateral side of the center bun 92. Each lateral bun 94, 96 may move laterally towards the center bun 92 and longitudinally rearward to the orientations illustrated in phantom in FIG. 6. Thus, the lateral buns 94, 96 may be displaced generally rearward of the center bun 92 without retracting into the center bun 92. This movement may operate simultaneously or individually.

With reference to FIG. 7, the head restraint 90 is illustrated in further detail. A rod 98 extends through the center bun 92 for supporting the head restraint 90 relative to the seat back 34. A pair of solenoids 100, 102 are mounted to the rod 98 for driving the lateral buns 94, 96. Each lateral bun 94, 96 is mounted to a linear track 104, 106 on the center bun 92. The linear tracks 104, 106 are each angled laterally inboard and rearward for moving the lateral buns 94, 96 as illustrated in FIG. 6. Each of the solenoids 100, 102 drives a cable 108, 110 that is mounted to the corresponding lateral bun 94, 96 for moving the lateral buns 94, 96. As illustrated, the cables 108, 110 each extend into their respective lateral buns 94, 96 for displacing the length of each cable 108, 110 relative to the tracks 104, 106. Alternatively, the solenoids 100, 102 may be aligned with the respective lateral buns 94, 96 so that the cables 108, 110 extend directly to the lateral buns 94, 98 to obviate pulleys or turns in the path of the cables 108, 110. Additionally, each lateral bun 94, 96 may be mounted to the center bun 92 by an extension spring 112, 114 for returning the lateral buns 94, 96 to the rest position in absence of actuation from the solenoids 100, 102. Although cables 108, 110 are depicted in the present embodiment, links may be employed for actuating the lateral buns 94, 96.

In operation, in response to a reverse signal from the vehicle system 22, the solenoids 100, 102 may each move the cables 108, 110 towards the solenoids 100, 102 thereby moving both lateral buns 94, 96 upon the tracks 104, 106 rearward and laterally inboard. In absence of the signal, the springs 112, 116 may return the lateral buns 94, 96 to the rest position illustrated in FIG. 7.

In response to a left turn signal, solenoid 100 may retract the cable 108 thereby moving the left lateral bun 94 down and to the right in FIG. 7. In the absence of the signal, the return spring 112 may return the bun 94 to the position. In response to a right turn signal, the right solenoid 102 may retract the cable 110 thereby moving the right lateral bun along the track 106 centrally and generally rearward of the center bun 92.

The invention contemplates that a lock 116 may be provided to prevent manual movement of the lateral buns 94, 96. Thus, with reference to the left lateral bun 94, the cable 108 may disengage the lock 116 and subsequently move the lateral bun 94 relative to the center bun 92.

The invention also contemplates that the pair of solenoids 100, 102 may be replaced with a single solenoid such as a dual linear solenoid or a rotary solenoid for moving both lateral buns 94, 96 in response to an appropriate input signal, such as a left turn signal, a right turn signal, a reverse gear signal, or any other appropriate signal.

Referring again to FIG. 6, the center bun 92 may have an overall lateral dimension of seventeen centimeters plus suitable tolerances and the head restraint 90 may have an overall lateral dimension in the rest position, illustrated in solid, of twenty-eight centimeters plus suitable tolerances.

FIG. 8 illustrates yet another embodiment head restraint 118 in accordance with the present invention. The head restraint 118 includes a stationary center bun 120 with a pair of lateral buns 122, 124. Each lateral bun 122, 124 is connected to the center bun 120 by a rotary actuator such as a rotary solenoid 126, 128. The rotary solenoids 126, 128 are in electrical communication with the vehicle system 22 for rotating the lateral buns 122, 124 generally rearward of the center bun 120 and laterally inward as illustrated in phantom for the left side lateral bun 122 in FIG. 8. Thus, in response to the left turn signal, the left rotary solenoid 126 may rotate the left lateral bun 122 as illustrated in phantom. In response to a right turn signal, the right rotary solenoid 128 may rotate the lateral bun 124 inward and rearward such as the temporary position illustrated for the left lateral bun 122. Accordingly, both rotary solenoids 126, 128 moves the lateral buns 122, 124 in response to a reverse drive signal.

The center bun 120 may be sized with recesses to receive the lateral buns 122, 124 into the center bun 120 in the retracted positions. In accordance with the present invention the lateral buns 122, 124 may rotate about a vertical axis as illustrated, or any suitable axis for improving lateral vision. For example, the lateral buns 122, 124 may rotate about a fore-aft axis or a cross-car axis.

Accordingly, various styles and designs may be employed within the spirit and scope of the present invention. For an embodiment wherein the lateral buns do not obfuscate the view for turning left or right, the lateral buns may remain stationary. Such a signal may be provided from the CPU 42 as a function of speed of the vehicle. Additionally, to prevent inadvertent movement of the lateral buns, the CPU 42 may refrain from sending the movement signal unless the transmission 46 is in a reverse or drive condition. Thus, inadvertent actuation of the turn indicator lever 48 when the vehicle is parked may not move the lateral buns. For solenoids such as the rotary solenoids 126, 128, mechanical returns such as torsion springs may return the buns 122, 124 to the rest position. Alternatively, the design logic may provide a reset from the transmission 46 being shifted into a forward gear by the shifter 44, or by absence of a turn signal indication signal as prompted by the turn indicator lever 48.

Referring now to FIG. 9, another embodiment head restraint 130 is illustrated within the spirit and scope of the present invention. The head restraint 130 includes a center bun 132 supported upon a rod 134. A pair of stationary lateral buns 136, 138 extend from the lower region of the center bun 132 beneath a range of lateral vision of the occupant O. A pair of movable lateral buns 140, 142 are provided above the stationary lateral buns 136, 138 and within a range of lateral vision of the occupant O. The movable lateral buns 140, 142 are each mounted to a track 144, 146 on the center bun 132. The movable lateral buns 140, 142 are driven by a solenoid 148 that drives cables 150, 152 connected to the movable lateral buns 140, 142. Each movable lateral bun 140, 142 is oversized relative to the stationary lateral buns 136, 138 and has a hollow region for telescoping over the stationary lateral buns 136, 138 as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 9. Thus, in response to a signal from the vehicle system 22, the movable lateral buns 140, 142 drop over the stationary lateral buns 136, 138 thereby permitting the occupant O to peer over the lowered movable lateral buns 140, 142 and thus enhancing an overall lateral range of vision θ′, φ′.

In accordance with the present invention, the lower lateral buns 136, 138 may be movable to telescope into the upper lateral buns 140, 142 to accommodate occupants of varying height. In another embodiment, the head restraint 130 may be reversed from the orientation depicted in FIG. 9, with the rods 134 extending from the opposed side of the center bun 132 so that the stationary lateral buns 136, 138 are oriented above the movable lateral buns 140, 142.

With reference now to FIG. 10, a top plan view of another telescoping head restraint embodiment is illustrated and indicated generally by numeral 154. The head restraint 154 has a rear base 156 with a center bun 158 and a pair of lateral buns 160, 162 extending from the base 156. The lateral buns 160, 162 are mounted on tracks 164, 166 and are connected to cables 168, 170, which are driven by a solenoid 172 for moving the lateral buns 160, 162. In response to a turn or reverse signal, the lateral buns 160, 162 are retracted within the base 156 as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 10. Thus, various retractable or telescoping head restraint embodiments may be utilized depending on the style and design characteristics for a given vehicle interior.

Although various head restraint embodiments are illustrated and described, the invention contemplates various head restraint embodiments within the spirit and scope of the present invention, including the combination of the teachings of the present invention with other head restraint adjustment features. For example, the head restraint may be adjustable relative to the seat back to provide various positions suitable to variable sized occupants. Additionally, the head restraint may be incorporated into an active and passive head restraint that deploys forward during impact conditions. Of course, other variations and combinations may be provided in accordance with the present invention.

In summary, various head restraint embodiments are illustrated for maximizing safety and vision of the occupant by moving the head restraint of the occupant's seat.

While embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, it is not intended that these embodiments illustrate and describe all possible forms of the invention. Rather, the words used in the specification are words of description rather than limitation, and it is understood that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.