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INNER ‘US 2017028269781 cu») United States 2) Patent Application Publication co) Pub. No.: US 2017/0282697 Al BARBER et al. (43) Pub. Date: Oct. 5, 2017 (54) MOVEABLE PANEL SYSTEM FOR NON-PARALLEL TRACKS B60 71087 (2013.01); BOOT 77043 (201301) (TL) Applicant: Tesla Motors, Ine, Palo Alto, CA (US) (72) Inventors: Howard BARBER, Pleasanton, CA, f (US); Steve KLOTZ, Premont, CA Cu) coashcmarns (US); Paul CONNOLLY, San Francisco, CA (US) (21) Appl. No. 15/087,454 A moveable panel system for a vehicle comprises: non parallel tracks on a body of the vehicle, the body having an (22) Filed: Mar. 31, 2016 poate afte atta (oT tis Graal T saa ee guide member on the panel; and compensation drive mecha- isms that couple the panel to the respective non-parallel (51) Inc tracks, each of the compensation drive mechanisms move- Boos 7087 (2006.01) able along the transverse guide member and moveable in Boos 7043 (2006.01) fone of the non-parallel tacks. Publication Classification Patent Application Publication Oct. $,2017 Sheet 1 of 6 US 2017/0282697 Al Patent Application Publication Oct. 5,2017 Sheet 2 of 6 US 2017/0282697 AL FG.2 Oct. 5,2017 Sheet 3of6 US 2017/0282697 A1 Publication Patent Application Patent Application Publication Oct. 5,2017 Sheet Sof 6 US 2017/0282697 Al Oct. 5, 2017 Sheet 6 of 6 US 2017/0282697 AI Patent Application Publication US 2017/0282697 AI MOVEABLE PANEL SYSTEM FOR NON-PARALLEL TRACKS BACKGROUND [0001] _Veicles have a variety of openings to allow pas- Sengers oreargo to enter anl exit the vehicle, andor to allow ventilation and light into a passenger cabin. Such openings are sometimes covered by a closure that can be eontolled Using a motor or hy mechanical action by the passenger. Por ‘example, the panels that eover an opening inthe oor af the Vehicle are usually called sunroofs or moonroofs. The com- bination where a movable transparent panel in the roof is Positioned adjacent’ non-moveable transparent panel is Sometimes refered to a 2 panoramic sunroof: 0002} Traditionally, vehicle roof closures have been based on having parallel treks in the roof. FIG. 1 shows prior art suneoof system 100, The system hasa sunroof panel 102 positioned next another roof panel 104, The sunroot pane] 102 is curently closed in that itis positioned atop an ‘opening in the vehicle body. The sunroof panel can be ‘opened by moving along parilel racks 106 on each side of the panel 104, [0003] The fact thatthe Wacks are parallel puts design Jimitations on the vehicle body. For example, a distance 108 represents the spacing between the parallel tacks. This sistance must necessarily be less tban the narrowest wid fsctoss the roof the vehicle. Moreover, the opening that becomes accessible when the sunroof s opened (sometimes called the hands through opening) mast be positioned between such tracks, and is therefore also constrained by the distance 108, In other words, with parallel tracks the design ‘of the vehicle's roof has placed certain limitations on how lange the sunroof opening can be made, [0003] Some automobile manufacturers refer to the vi ‘les dimensions using X-, Y- and Z-coordinates in a Car- tesian coordinate system, For example, the X dimeasion is fore-aft in the vehile, the Y dimension is left-right in the vehicle, and the Z dimension is up-down in the vehicle. Existing track mechanisms that are based! on parallel tacks ‘can then be characterized a allowing the panel tack meh nism to travel at most in the X- and Z-dimensions, and not jn the Yalimension SUMMARY, 10005] In first aspect, a moveable panel system for a vehicle comprises: non-parallel tracks on a body of the vehicle, the Body having an opening; a panel sized to cover the opening; a transverse guide member om the panel and ‘compensation drive mechanisms that eauple the panel to the respective non-parallel tracks, each of the compensation ‘drive mechanisms moveable along the trmsverse guide member and moveable in one of the non-parallel tracks, 10006] Implementations can include any or all of the following features. The opening isin roof of the vehicle The transverse guide member and the compensation drive mechanisms are positioned on an underside of the panel fing the vehicle. The transverse guide member is posi- tioned at an edge ofthe panel. The edge isa rear edge ofthe panel on tho vehicle. The moveable panel system further ‘comprises longitudinal channels in the transverse guide member. Fach of the compensation drive mechanisms is ‘mounted onto the trisverse guide member using the lon- pitudinal channels. The moveable panel system further com- Oct. 5, 2017 prives cables, each positioned in a rexpective one of the longitudinal chanaels and attached to acomesponding one of the compensation drive mechanisms. The moveable panel system further comprises ng a link gear in the transverse auice member, the link gear configured to Tink movements fof the cables to cach other. A separation between the ‘non-parallel racks decreases in a direction of opening ofthe pancl The transverse guide member and the compensation ‘rive mechanisms are re positioned at a rear edge of the panel, the moveable panel system further comprising front {rack mechanisms that couple a front edge of the panel to the body of the vehicle. The moveable panel system further comprises parallel tracks on the bods, wherein the front truck mechanisms couple the panel o the respective parallel twocks, The opening is between the parallel tracks, Fach of the compenstion drive mechanisms comprises a compen- sation drive slidably mounted onto the transverse guide aad track mechanism connected tothe compen- sation drive. The track mechanism is hinged to the compen- Sation deve, The panel has essentially an isosceles typed shape, 0007] In a second aspect, a moveable panel system for a vehicle comprises: non-parallel tracks on body of the vehicle, the body having an opening: a panel sized v0 cover the opening; fist mans for slidably coupling the pane! t0 ‘the non-parallel tacks; and secondl means for compensating forthe non-parallel tracks in moving the pane! [0008] Implementations ean include any or all of the Tollowing features. The second means compensates for the ‘non-parallel tracks by slidably coupling the first means t0 the panel. The frst means comprises compensation drives ‘moveable along the second means. The second means com- pris a transverse guide member, wherein the first means are moveable slong the transverse guide member BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS [0009] FIG. 1 shows « prior at sunroof system, [010] FIG. 2 shows a top view of an example of a moveable panel system, 011] FIG, 3 shows 2 hottom view ofthe moveable panel system of FIG. 2 [0012] FIG. 4 shows an example ofa compensation dive mechanism, [0013] FIG, S shows an example ofa fink gear in a guide ember [0014] FIG. 6 shows an example of cables engaging with a link gear DETAILED DESCRIPTION [015] This documeot describes examples of systems and techniques for reducing the dependencies between the size of the sunroof opening and the width ofthe vehicle's roof ‘A moveable pane] ean be coupled to non-parallel tacks for its movement between a closed position and any ofa variety ‘of open positions. In some implementations, the tracks jonverge toward the eae of the vehicle's root. For example, the tracks ean essentially conform to boat-tal narowing oF the vehicle's body toward the reat. A compensation mecha- nism ean be provided to allow the panel to travel along the ‘on-parilel tracks. For example, this can provide thatthe ppancl remains centered across the tracks asi travels slong a US 2017/0282697 AI [0016] FIG. 2 shows a top view of an example of @ ‘moveable panel system 200, The system is installed on @ body 202 of a vehicle, more particularly in the tof of the Vehicle so us to provide ability To open atleast a portion of the roof ancl thereby ereate an opening into the passenger ‘compartment. Te directions toward the frat and rear ofthe vehicle are here indicated for illustation. Most of the ‘hicle boy is here omitted for simplicity, but systems and techniques described herein can be used with any type of vehicle that has an opening covered by # moveable panel This chides passenger vehicles, o name just one example. 10017] The system includes a pane] 204 that is installed so sto be movable between a closed position and any of various open postions. The panel can be transparent, semi- teansparent or non-ranspareat. The panel is currently in the closed position and therefore covers an opening in the vehicle's rool. When te panel is partially or flly opened, ‘twill travel onto an atea 206 ofthe vehicle's roof. The area 206 is here shown empty for illustrative purposes, but is formally covered by ne or more materials, Such material ‘ean be the same a8 the rest of the vehicle's body, or it ean be a transparent pan! installed inthe roof so a to form @ panoramic sunroof, to name just two examples [0018] Here, non-parallel tracks 208 are installed on the Vehicle. The tracks are positioned on each side of the area 206, The tacks ean be non-parallel in any of various ways. In some implementations, a separation between the » parallel tacks decreases in # direction of opening of the panel. The current example shows the noa-parallel tacks ‘converging toward the rear of the vehicle. A compensation ‘mechanism allows the panel 204 to travel i both directions ‘on the non-parallel tracks 208 s0 as to open of close the sunroof. In other implementations, tracks ean be non-paral- Jel in a different way, such as to diverge [0019] A transverse guide member 210 is here mounted ‘onto an underside ofthe panel 204 ants therefore shown in phantom. As such, the transverse guide member faces the Vehicle, and canbe positioned at either the front or rear edge ‘ofthe panel. In some implementations, respective transverse l2uide members are positioned both st the fot and rear ‘edges of the panel. 0020] | Compensation mechanisms described hercin facil- tate that moveable panels can travel along non-parallel tacks. This can allow the moveable panel (i, the sunroof pane) to have a non-rectangular shape. For example, the pane] 204 here has @ somewhat rounded shape toward the Jront of the vehicle, but essentially has the shape of an isosceles trapeaoid in that the front and rear edges are (essentially) parallel, and the sie edges are oriented at equal ‘and opposing. angles relative to the front andl rear edges Moreover, the hands-throvgh opening inthe roof ean be of rectangular shape, or it ean have another shape, including but not limited to, a trapezoid shape [0021] FIG. 3 shows a bottom view of the moveable panel system 200 of FIG. 2. The roof, including the moveable pane] 204 and the non-parallel tacks 208, is here shown from the opposite direction than inthe previous figure. The transverse guide member 210 is fully visible in this view as itis positioned on the underside of the panel toward the rear nd theo! The transverse pie member 210i part of ¢ ‘compensation mechanism 300 that also incades respective ‘compensation drives 302 for cach of the on-parallel tracks 208, The compensation mechanism is here provided to allow the pane to travel along the non-parallel racks, Each ofthe Oct. 5, 2017 compensation drives is therefore able to move (e.g. by sliding) at least part of the way slong the length of dhe ‘ransverse guide member, The compensation mechanism 300 also includes respective tick mechanisnss 304, each of ‘whieh js connected to one ofthe compensation drives 392 40 ‘aw couple it o the comesponding non-parallel track 208. For example, this can faeiitate thatthe mochanism (in this ‘example the rear one) that couples the panel to the non- parallel tacks is able to move not only in the X- and Zaliections, but also in the Y-liection. In this view, the frock mechsnisms 304 are partially abseured by the non- parallel ck 208. 10022] ‘That is, the compensation drives 302 can be slide ahly mounted onto the transverse guide member 210 so as to ‘compensate for the non-parallel orientation of the tacks 208. In some implementations the compensation drives 302 fan move independently of each other. In the present ample, however, their movements are controlled with repard to each other by way of a link gear 306 that can be pounted inside the transverse guide member 210. For example, each of the compensation drives 302 can have respoctve cable (o be described lows) attachod toi. These cables can engage the link gear (e., on diametscally ‘opposite sides thereof) so that if one of the cables is moved, the other eable is also moved the same distance in the ‘opposite direction. For example, this ean reduce or eliminate binding between each of the respective compensation drive 302 and the transverse puide member 210. Thats, the cables ‘and the link gear can facilitate that the compensation drives 302 are always symmetrically positioned with regard to the ‘enter point of the transverse guide member. [0023] The above example illustrates that the moveable panel system 200 can include the non-parallel tacks 208 that are positioned on the body of the vehicle, and the vehicle body hus an opening that is presently covered by the ‘moveable panel 204, The transverse guide member 210 is positioned on the panel 204, and the compensation drive ‘mechanisms 302 are configured to each couple the panel t0 ‘one of the respective non-parallel tracks. Fach ofthe com- pensation drive mechanisms is moveable along the trans- verse guide member and is moveable in one of the non parallel tricks. As such, each of the track mechanisms 304 can serve 10 slidably couple the panel tthe non-parallel ‘rocks. As another example, the compensation drives 302 fand the transverse guide member 210 can compensate for the non-parallel tracks when the panel is moved. Such ‘compensation can be done by slidably coupling the com- pensation drives to the panel. [0024] The system here ineludes front trock mechanisms 308 on each side of the moveable panel. Each of the front ‘wack meclsnisms ineludes a track mechanism 30 and a front tack 312. For example, each ofthe track mechanisms 310 is mounted on the tnderside of the moveable panel toward the front edge thereof, and is configured to be slidably coupled to a corresponding ane of the front tracks 312, which can bo attached to the vehicle body (et ‘oof sintetre). The hands-through opening that is made fccessible by moving the panel 208 is here positioned between the parallel front tracks. [0025] ‘The front tracks aren this example parallel to each ‘other and the front track mechanisms do not need fo have fany compensation mechanism as described herein, In other ementations, however, a compensation mechanism ean US 2017/0282697 AI ‘of eompensetion mechanism, 10026] FIG. 4 shows aa example of a compensation drive mechanism 400. The compensation drive mechanism i here shown with a transverse guide member 402, The compen- sation drive mechanism includes a compensation drive 404 ‘coupled wo the tninsverse guide member, and a tick mecha nism 406 connected to the compensation drive, The track mechanism 406 is in tum coupled to a track 408 that is non-parallel with rogard. 10 a corresponding. track (not shown) at the other end ofthe teasverse guide member 42 That is, the track mechanism ean be moved along. the non-parallel track in either direction, for exanpleby'a deve ‘cable actuated by a motor. The tack mechanism ean provide ‘camming action with regard to the compensation drive and the transverse guide member, and therefore provide move- ‘ment of (atleast part of) the moveable panel in the Z-di- rection. Here, this is in part accomplished by way of @ hinged connection between the trck mechanism and the ‘compensation drive. For example, the cam function can ‘allo the panel o sit Mush with the surounding roof surface ‘when closed, and can allow the pane! to be raised above the roof sueface to facilitate movement along the tracks, In other ‘implementations, a eam ean be provided in or near the non-parallel track sos to feilitate easing and lowering of the panel as it moves 10027} The compensation drive 404 is here slidably mounted onto the iransverte guide member 402 In some implementations, the transverse guicle member has longitu- ‘inal channels 410. For example, the transverse side mem- bers formed by extrusion and has a profile that includes the ‘channels slong is entre length, In some implementatos ‘each of the compensation drives 404 is mounted onto the transverse guide member 402 using the longitudinal chan- nels. For example, the compensation drive ean have one oF ‘more shoes 412 attached thereto that engage with an opening formed by the longitudinal channel, As will be desenbed in more detail below, the compensation drives can have aitached thercto respective cables, each of which eables is ‘accommodated inside a corresponding one of the longitu ‘inal channels. For example, the cables attached othe shoe “412 such that the cable and the compensation drive move together longitudinally slong the transverse guide member. 10028] FIG. § shows an example ofa link gear 500 in @ de member $02, The guide member ean be used with any ‘rall examples of moveable panel systems deseribed hereo, ‘Only portion of the guide member is here showa, for simplicity. The link gear ean be mounted ata centerpoint of the guide member. The link gear is here rotatable in either