US 3596241 A
Abstract available in
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
3.509.527 4/1970 Oakes et a1. ,1
 Inventor Maurice Mlgnuult 69 lowers St Nashua, NH. 03060 aS hm Wna n nm m i rw me n? x-r EMF, me mu m m t- HAA 91 m ,7- 42 5. %md 79. o. d N w L n mm AFD- ABSTRACT: Indicating guiding and signalling means, useful in conjunction with a vehicular pathway, for indicating to the driver how to maneuver the vehicle to center it in the pathway. More particularly, the indicating means is comprised of a continuous elongated conducting means along each side of said pathway and a series of individually actuatable, movable, switch contacts successively placed therealong, which movable switch contacts can detect the malpositioning of a vehicles wheels but will not react to trivial contact with the Lso z 6MN5N m mimmz 0 mu m m mm E M m I m I m ML m mm in D m Wm WM m A m mmm um m a a m s m SC7 U h u n um U U U...
 Reference CM vehicle. The most advantageous embodiments of the invention UNITED STATES PATENTS 11/1969 Czingula..........,.......,....
allow a quick and easy replacement of damaged resilient switch contact arms and do not depend on the mass of the vehicle for activating the signalling means.
PATENTED JUL27 I97! sum 1 or 2 PIC-3.2
MAURICE MIGNEAULT INVENTOR.
ATTORNEYS PATENTEnJuLznsn 3596.241
sum 2 BF 2 MAURICE MIGNEAULT INVENTOR.
Puma "Pm/140M ATTORNEYS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In the operation of car washes'and other; such facilities. through which. vehicles must be transported on a predetermined path, it is necessary to have an incoming vehicle properly positioned for reception into the vehicle-processing operation. Usually this positioning. is carried out by personnel at the car wash. However, if the use of personnel can be avoided there would be a desirable saving in the cost of operating the facility. Moreover, any, means for'improving themethodby which cars. are admittedto such a facility will not only reduce operating costs, butwill also tend to streamline the operation andresultin an increased capacity per unit time. This is particularly important in car-wash facilities where volume of the business. is cyclical and often is limitedby the. length of awaiting line. l
One of the more promising improvements in operation, one which could allow operation closer to maximum capacity, would be one wherein customers are enabled to drive their own cars into the facility and properlyposition it with respect to the washing apparatus.
PRIOR ART The prior art has recognizedthe desirability of providing. customers with a means by which they can position their own cars. For example, US. Pat. No- 2,979,694to Lamberti discloses a safety signalling device comprising a switch means on. each side of vehicular pathway, which switch meanscomprises two continuous flexible electroconductive. strips separated along their median line by an insulating strip. This insulating strip acts additionally as a pivot mechanism whereby a tire hitting any point along the switch. means will causeactuation. of signalling means for directingthe driver to: take corrective action.
One problem with, such a signalling device, as proposed in the aforesaid patent, is that it is relatively difficult to maintain. or replace theswitch means. Another problem is that it is not versatile with respect to handling the various wheel-track widths that are encountered in vehicle-processing operations.
Moreover, the signalling device of the prior art is limited withrespect to the minimum vehicle deviation that it can monitor. Because of its continuous nature the backedgeof the left tire can signal a turn in one direction when-the frontedge of. the right tire signalsan opposite turn. Thus, unless sufficientwidth. of pathway is allowed between the switch mechanism, the device can only confuse a driver. In other words, the device cannot be used to indicate wheel position, but only position of the automobile itself.
Therefore, it is. an object of the instant invention to provide an improved indicating and signalling means to enable. a driver: to position his vehicle on a pathway.
Another object of the invention is to provide an indicating and signalling means which willnot be responsive to trivial.
A. further object of the invention is to provide a signal intermittently, spaced along an elongate electroconductive means which is intermittently actuated, thereby assuring a more controlled driver response-thereto.
Another object of the invention is to provide a signal means wherein. switch armswhich contact vehicles may be quicklyand easily replaced.
Other objectsof the invention will be obvious to .those skilled in the art on reading the instant application.
SUMMARY or THE INVENTION The above objects have been substantially achieved'by theconstruction of an automatic signalling apparatus for use in conjunction with vehicular pathways, which apparatus inmember which serves as a switch terminal common to'each of the movable switch contacts. Thus a number of spaced, normally open, switchesare positioned to be individually and successively closed when a vehicle proceedingalong the pathway deviates from the pathway enough toen'gage one of the switch arms, thereby causing it to contact the elongate electrocon- 'ductive terminal member. The'consequent closing of this switch completes an'electric circuit and thereby activates a directional signal directing the driver of the vehicle to steer left or right as the case may be.
One particularly advantageous feature of this apparatus is that it does not=cause a-continuous output'to'thc signal means, even thoughthe vehicle continues to be malpointed. Such a continuous outputoften confuscsadrivcr because there is no immediate visualindication that'hiscorrective action'is the rightone, or has succeeded inbringinghas vehicle into the proper line. Many drivers react'to this perfectly understandable. phenomena by deciding, irrationally, that they have taken the. wrong action and'changetheir response. Thus a driver directed to steer left will do so. But before the two or three seconds which is necessary to correctthe position of his car passes, he becomes concerned that the signal indicates a continuing. error. At'this point, enough drivers irrationally turn their wheels againto the right to present a problem. This behavioral problem is entirely solved by the apparatus of the invention, because the automobile passes the signal point reopening the switch and thereby'shutting off the directional signal. if more correction is required, the next successive switch will signal it to the driveran an entirely independent signal;
ln:-a..particularlyadvantageous embodiment of the invention, described more fully in FlGS; 1 through 3 below, the elongate electroconductive member'which forms the switch terminal is a hollow tubular conduit of rigid, electroconductive materiaL'such as metal, into which a resilient switch arm is mounted: with an. insulating bracket. This switcharm then extends through the conduit and out through an aperture in theconduit onthat side of the conduit that is proximate the vehiclepath'way. By varying the sizcof the aperture, it is possibleto determine just what magnitude of deflection-is required to cause the switch'arm'to contact the electroconductive'conduit. Tri-vialcontact of the switch arm on the side of a hub cap or tire, therefore, need not cause the closing of switch means and consequent directing of the driver to take corrective'action.
Such embodiments of the invention as'this one are preferred because they have the contact points dependent upon a brushingaction of the side wallof the tire at a level wellabove ground level, but'they need not be constructed to bear the weight of the automobile as, for example, that embodiment of the invention shown in H0. SyMoreover, when the automobile-sensing means are the preferred horizontal probes, they may not only be used to sense the position of the tires, but they may be used, when desired, so that they can sense the direction in which the tire is turned even before the automobilehas responded to the turning action. In such embodiments of the invention, of course, the horizontal switch arms need be mounted more closely together on the elongate electroconductive conduit which serves as a switch terminal. They must not be mounted, however, soclosely that while the front end of one front tire. is contacting a right-tumswitch arm, the back end of the other front tire is contacting a left-turn" switch arm.'This possible situation emphasizes the impracticability of using continuous rather thandisconnected, successive switch positions along the elongate conduit.
lLLUSTRATlVE EXAMPLE OF THE INVENTION FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of the plan of the novel switch and'signalling apparatus of the invention showing the relationship between the apparatus and the position of an automobile;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary side elevation of the apparatus FIG. 3 is an enlarged elevation on line 3--3 of FIG. 1 and shows a particularly advantageous switch element useful with the apparatus of the invention;
FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG 3 of another embodiment;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of still another embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary, enlarged, cross-sectional view of the switch assembly shown in FIG. 5.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 3, it is seen that two elongate switch members 11 formed of electroconductive conduits 12 are spaced apart to form a vehicular pathway 14. Into each conduit 12 are placed a plurality of movable switch contacts in the form of switch arms 16, which extend diametrically through the conduits 12 and within the periphery of pathway 14. Switch arms 16 are held tightly in conduits 12 by an insulating bracket 18, but then extend through the conduit emerging through an aperture 20, which aperture is of relatively wide diameter. Switch arms 16 are spaced apart at a distance which is approximately equal or somewhat greater than the diameter of an automobile tire.
A voltage-supply source 22 forms means to supply an electromotive force through a circuitwhich can be completed through conductor 23, signal display means 24, a switch arm 16, the wall of conduit 12, and thence through conductor back through signal display means 24 and thereupon to voltage supply source 22 to complete the circuit.
In operation, an automobile, diagrammatically represented by front wheels 28 thereof, enters vehicular pathway 14. If the automobile has entered in a centered position and thereupon proceeds down the center of pathway 14, then wheels 28 will not contact any switch arms 16 (except, perhaps, occasional incidental contact which is insufficient to cause switch arms 16 to contact electroconductive conduits l2) and no signal display will be actuated for the guidance of the automobiles driver, and none will be necessary.
However, if the automobile is steered from a centered course down the pathway 14, for example as shown in FIG. 1, a wheel 28 will contact switch am 16 and cause it to be displaced sufficiently to contact the wall of conduit 12 at a point contact position 30. This contact results in the closing of a circuit as described above and thereby causes the leftmost signal display means 24 to signal the driver of the automobile to steer to the right.
Each continuous, elongated conduit 12 is preferably a hollow tube of rigid, electroconductive metal, such as steel, which in addition to its function as a continuous switch terminal, also serves as a guard rail at a spaced level above ground level, such as six inches. Conduit 12 may be a steel tube, having a three inch outside diameter and a one-sixteenth inch thick wall, and may be about eighteen feet long with an outwardly flared entrance end, and preferably is supported on spaced brackets, such as 55. The switch arms, or feelers, 16 are of flexible, resilient electroconductive material, such as steel, although it will be obvious that they can be of a conductively wrapped, nonconductive material, or that the switch portion could be conductive and the feeler portion nonconductive. The conductor 25 is affixed to the base end 26 of each switch arm, the switch contact portion of the arm being designated 27 and the feeler portion 29 extending through aperture 20 into the path of an errant vehicle.
Referring to FIG. 4, another switch assembly 33 is seen, wherein a movable switch contact in the form of switch, or feeler, 34, is mounted adjacent an electroconductive conduit, or guard rail, 35, by being soldered onto an elongate electroconductive bar 37, which strip is mounted on and along electroconductive conduit 35 and separated from conduit 35 by a rubber insulating strip 39. The mounting and fastening of strip 39 and bar 37 to conduit 35 is achieved by a fastening means 40 which is suitably a plastic rivet assembly, such as 42. In use, switch arm 34 is bent by the movement of an automobile tire caused to contact conduit 35 and thereby to close a circuit such as that shown in FIG. 1. It has been found that a five inch length of one-eighth inch diameter wire cable, with a soldered tip is sufficiently self-supporting and resiliently flexible to serve as the arm 34.
FIG. 5 shows still another embodiment intlie form of a switch assembly comprising an upper continuous electroconductive strip 47 and a lower continuous electroconductive strip 49, which may be the guard ra'il12 if desired. Strips 47 and '49 are separated by insulating Separatorstrip 52. Separator strip 52 is sized, and strips 47 and 49 are chosen so that the weight of an automobile deviating from pathway 14,, will make contact between strip 47 and one of a plurality of is individual and successive, as in the other embodiments, and' the conductive strips 47 and 49 are affixed to the cement floor by plastic rivets, or other nonconductive means.
It will be seen, although not shown, that the strips 47 and 49, with their ribbed insulative separator could be affixed to the side of guard rail 12 to raise the level of the switches. It will also be seen that in such case the conductive guard rail 12 could serve as the strip 49, so that the strip 49 could be eliminated.
As will be understood by reference to FIGS. 1 through 4, an elongate electroconductive switch member can serve simultaneously as an effective vehicle restraining rail. When this is done, the outer surface of the member will usually be covered with electrical insulating material, such as hard rubber or the like.
In addition to the lateral-position signal means as described above, it is often advantageous to have means to signal correct position of a vehicle with respect to its position along the length of the vehicle pathway. Then, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 5, a switch 60 lies in pathway 14 so that it will be contacted by the wheel of a vehicle if that vehicle proceeds beyond that point in the pathway which is optimum with respect to the car washing process. Signal means 58 comprises a switch 60 which is wired to actuate a back signal on signal display means 24. This is of particular value to the wholly automatic car wash where all vehicle positioning is done by the driver of the vehicle to be washed. Signal means 58 could be formed by an electric eye or any other suitable position-detecting instrumentation.
In front of switch 60 is a car wash activating switch 62 which causes the car wash apparatus to be actuated when depressed by the tire of the vehicle.
What I claim is:
1. An automatic signalling apparatus for use in conjunction with a vehicular pathway, said apparatus comprising:
l. a pair of elongated electroconductive members along each side of said pathway,
2, a plurality of individual, normally open switches mounted at spaced distances along each said member, each switch having a movable contact independent of adjacent switch contacts and forming with said member, discontinuous switching means therealong,
3. directional signal means mounted above said pathway in a position visible to a driver of a vehicle therein,
4. each said movable contact being so positioned in relation to said pathway and the member with which it is associated, that an errant vehicle progressively and continuously moving along one of said members successively closes and opens an electrical circuit to activate said signal means.
2. A signalling apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein each said elongate electroconductive member is a hollow tubular guard rail, and
wherein each said movable contact is a resilient switch arm mounted in an insulating bracket in said rail and extending across said rail through an aperture in the wall thereof into said vehicular pathway, said aperture being sized sufficiently to allow trivial movement of said switch arm to take place without such movement causing contact of said switch arm with said electroconductive guard rail.
3. A signalling apparatus as deflnedin claim I, wherein:
each said elongate, electroconductive member is formed by at least two eleetroconductive strips,
and each said movable contact is formed by a conductive post projecting from one said strip toward the other and separated therefrom by an insulative ribbed strip.
4. In a car wash, or the like, the combination of a pair of elongated, parallel guide rails, of rigid material, mounted at a spaced height above ground level, and at a spaced distance apart, to define a pathway therebetween for the wheels of an automobile, and
a pair of electric signal circuit means, each associated with one of said guide rails, each said circuit means including a source of current, electrically actuated signal means for informing the driver of an automobile in which direction to turn the automobile wheels, and a plurality of individual, normally open, switches mounted successively at spaced distances along said side rail,
each said switch having a movable switch contact means, in-
dependent of the other switches, alongside and projecting into said path from said guide rail, adapted to be engaged by one front wheel or the other of said automobile to close said circuit means to temporarily actuate said signal and then deactuate said signal as said wheel advances therepast or therealong.
5. A combination as specified in claim 4, wherein each said guide rail is a hollow tube of rigid electrically conductive metal, having oppositely disposed pairs of apertures at spaced distances along the side walls thereof, and
each said movable switch contact means is a resilient, flexible; electrically conductive feeler having a base fixed in, and insulated from, one said aperture, thence extending diametrically across the inside of said rail and out of the othersaid aperture of a pair to terminate in a feeler portion in the path of an errant vehicle.
6. A combination as specified in claim 4, wherein each said guide rail constitutes a continuous, electrically conductive switch terminal member, and
each said movable switch contact means includes a continuous, electrically conductive strip, affixed in parallelism on, but insulated from, said guide rail, and a plurality of flexible resilient feelers of electrically conductive, selfsupporting material extending inwardly from said strip into the path of an errant vehicle.
7. A combination as specified in claim 4, wherein each said switch includes at least one continuous, elongated, electrical conductor and a plurality of individual, resilient flexible elec trically conductive switch arms located at spaced distances along conductor and adapted to engage the same successively when successively engaged by a wheel of an advancing automobile.