Adaptive Bumper System

IFFC, LLC      Contact:      Twitter: @steveshoap     US patent 8,016,332

A Safer Small Car

Note:  There are links to two completely different inventions at the bottom of this page.

The new Federal CAFE rules require that future cars get much better fuel economy.
On average, cars will have to get lighter, which means less steel.
On the other hand, new Federal rules will require that cars become safer in crashes.
Removing steel makes cars less safe.
The car companies have difficult design goals to meet.
The car in the above figure has a small trunk area. It does not have the long trunk that protects the rear seat passengers of large sedans.

Click HERE to see a small car that has been hit in the rear by a large vehicle.
Gordon Murray is a famous British car designer. At the link below, he describes a problem with the design of auto chassis.
If a vehicle has structures that protect the passengers from a high speed collision, that same structure will NOT crumple in a low speed 
collision. The structure fails to reduce g forces on passengers in a lower speed collision. Mr. Murray proposes that city cars be designed with different crash standards from highway cars. This means that a city car will not give the proper protection to passengers if it is in a high speed collision. Also, the city car will not be allowed to drive on highways.

Click HERE to see his article. The paragraphs below show how I propose to solve the city vs. highway problem.

I have invented an Adaptive Bumper System that has US patent 8,016,332.
It is shown in the figure at the top of this page. A box of energy absorbing material is connected to a bumper with three shafts.
The amount of energy absorbing material that gets crushed in a collision is determined by sensing the collision forces
at the first moments of a collision.
A high speed collision will crush ALL of the material. A low speed material will crush less material.

My Adaptive Bumper System solves the problem of city vs. highway cars. A car using the Adaptive Bumper can be used for both city and highway.

Click HERE to see a Finite Element Analysis simulation of two different blocks of polyurethane foam that have different stiffness properties.

Click HERE to see the Adaptive Bumper System.

The Bumper of the Adaptive Bumper System can be retracted to facilitate parking in small spots.
It is possible to combine a extendible/retractable bumper with an extendible/retractable rear axle.
Click HERE to see how a city car can have its wheelbase extended to improve its ride on the highway. Also,
a longer vehicle is more aerodynamic and will get better fuel economy during highway driving.

My Original Safer Car Invention:

Before I invented the Adaptive Bumper, I invented another way to make cars safer in collisions. (US patent 7,699,347)

The earlier invention uses a box of energy absorbing material that is connected to multiple pairs of bumper shafts that stick out of the box in perpendicular directions. The invention can be seen HERE.

Small cars need the bumpers more than large cars. However, in side collisions, even large cars deliver huge g forces onto the passengers.

Click HERE to see the result of a large vehicle hitting a pole sideways at 20 mph. This is a new U.S. Federal Test.

The rear bumper is extended before driving and (optionally) retracted when parking.
The side bumpers may extended all of the time and may be hidden by running boards, or the side bumpers can be retracted when parking.
Click HERE to see a modern use of running boards.
No bumper is extended just before an accident is anticipated.

Until recently, I believed that the energy absorbing material was going to be aluminum honeycomb or a metal foam.
I now believe that rigid polyurethane foam is the best material. It is much lower in cost than metal foams,
and it is already used by the auto companies in energy absorption applications.

An article on the car appeared in the WIRED Magazine Autopia blog. Click HERE to see article.
Click HERE for another blog article that discusses the new NHTSA Side Impact Pole Test.

Click HERE to see a brochure from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety called Shopping for a Safer Car 2010.
The brochure has a graph that shows that small cars have a collision death rate that is DOUBLE that of large cars.

The Shared Crumple Zone invention has been granted a US Patents 7,695,018 and 7,699,347.
Click HERE to see the US Patent on Google Patents.

Mercedes Benz has invented a new type of side bumper. They call it PRE-Safe and it is a device that expands explosively
on the side doors of a vehicle. It might require the anticipation of an impending collision to fire the device, which is a difficult task to accomplish.
PRE-Safe is described on a web site whose link is HERE. The PRE-Safe devices are the red shapes on the front and rear doors.
A detailed description is given half way down the page.

The PRE-Safe devices extend a few inches. My invention extends a foot or more. More extension is better when g force reduction is desired.

The federal government (NHTSA) has created a new crash test that makes a car crash sideways into a pole at 20 mph.

Click HERE to see a video of side crashes into a pole.

Click HERE to see why the invention is needed.

Click HERE to see the invention details.

Click HERE to see an "aftermarket" version of the invention.

Contact me at


I have invented several other systems shown below:

Click HERE to see an irrigation system topology with improved system features.

Click HERE to see a digitally controlled hose system for fighting wildfires. The system can also be used
     to deliver water after a disaster destroys the water infrastructure in a region.

Click HERE to see my Bio.




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