US20110168507A1 - Steerable Carriage Apparatus - Google Patents

Steerable Carriage Apparatus Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110168507A1
US20110168507A1 US12687130 US68713010A US20110168507A1 US 20110168507 A1 US20110168507 A1 US 20110168507A1 US 12687130 US12687130 US 12687130 US 68713010 A US68713010 A US 68713010A US 20110168507 A1 US20110168507 A1 US 20110168507A1
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Prior art keywords
surface
pivotal
end portion
plurality
arms
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US12687130
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James Keith Penley
Ginger G. Penley
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James Keith Penley
Penley Ginger G
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C7/00Collapsible or extensible purses, luggage, bags or the like
    • A45C7/0018Rigid or semi-rigid luggage
    • A45C7/0045Rigid or semi-rigid luggage comprising a plurality of separable elements which can be used independently of one another
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C5/00Rigid or semi-rigid luggage
    • A45C5/14Rigid or semi-rigid luggage with built-in rolling means
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C13/00Details; Accessories
    • A45C13/30Straps; Bands
    • A45C2013/306Straps; Bands for attaching auxiliary articles to luggage, e.g. piggyback

Abstract

A steerable carriage apparatus for manually transporting a payload across a surface, the apparatus including a frame having a first end portion and a second end portion, further included is a plurality of arms each having a pivotal attachment to the first end portion. Wherein each pivotal attachment having a pivotal axis that is at an obtuse angle in relation to the surface, further each pivotal attachment is operational to allow a pivotal movement about each pivotal axis of each arm in relation to the first end portion. Also included in the apparatus is a plurality of first rotating elements that are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, each of the plurality of first rotating elements forming a contact on the surface, wherein each obtuse angle is adjacent to each contact on the surface, also each of the first rotating elements is operational to be steerable.

Description

    TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present invention relates generally to an apparatus for transporting an article across a surface. More specifically, the present invention relates to a steerable carriage apparatus for selectively moving a payload on a surface that includes a selectably detachable piggy back structure that the luggage type apparatus can move in a combined balanced operational state, wherein the luggage apparatus has a plurality of rolling elements disposed upon the surface with a counterbalanced center of gravity design to facilitate the combination piggyback structure to automatically position itself upright with or without the piggyback structure.
  • BACKGROUND OF INVENTION
  • Current day travel typically requires several pieces of luggage for most travelers both business and personal or for vacation, wherein usually a traveler has a larger checked bag with their clothes, shoes, toiletries, and the like, then the traveler also has a smaller piece of luggage termed a carry-on bag, which they take with them into the passenger cabin. This carry-on bag typically contains smaller high value items such as electronic devices; laptops, phones, music and video players, keys, watches, jewelry, and other items that the traveler can work with during their travel time in the passenger cabin.
  • When the passenger completes their travel and departs from the passenger cabin, they typically hand carry their carry-on luggage to the checked baggage pick-up point, wherein they re-unite with their larger heavier checked piece of luggage. After this the traveler will typically continue to hand carry their smaller carry-on bag and then with their other hand pull the larger heavier checked luggage behind them until they go to where their surface transportation is located, noting also that the traveler also typically uses both hands to carry these two pieces of luggage when they depart from surface transportation to their luggage check in point when departing for travel, and as anyone who travels much knows, once you get to check your larger heavier bag, it is quite a relief to only have to only carry a single item, thus occupying only one hand, wherein the travelers free hand can open doors, carry food or drink, hold a phone, carry a purchased item, or anything else. This arrangement is satisfactory of carrying or pulling one bag in each hand, however, not preferable, as having both hands tied up in carry luggage is inconvenient in any case. As this is a well recognized problem, numerous attempts have been made to attach the carry-on bag to the larger checked bag so they both can be moved across a surface, thus freeing up one hand on the traveler for the previous stated desirable reasons above.
  • The major reason for wanting to attach the carry-on bag to the larger bag is to potentially make a combined carry-on bag/larger bag unit that can be taken into the passenger cabin wherein the potential hassles of checking baggage could be avoided, which include extra time for both bag check-in and when departing the destination airport and increased risk of loss and/or damage to the checked luggage. Further, another advantage of the combined carry-on bag/larger bag unit is to simplify security for x-ray/scanning a single unit, thus an easily attachable/detachable carry-on bag and larger bag combination that is well balanced and easy to pull or push whether the larger bag has the carry-on bag attached or not would be desirable attributes of the combined carry-on bag/larger bag unit. In other instances, a passenger may be allowed to have a carry-on bag plus a “personal” item such as a briefcase or purse, wherein the “carry-on” could become the personal item and the larger bag could become the “carry-on” bag, thus still maintaining the advantage of the scenario of not having to check a bag and the attendant hassles previously described.
  • However, many of these attempts are often ad-hoc in that they are attempts at merely strapping on the carry-on bag to the larger piece of luggage, wherein the carry-on bag can shift position, knock the larger luggage off balance where it can tip over, or the carry-on can slide off the larger piece of luggage and possibly damage the valuable contents of the carry-on bag. Another issue is that frequently occurs, is that the traveler will wait in line for check-in, to purchase food or drink, or another reason, thus setting the ad-hoc combined larger luggage and carry-on bag upon the surface in a static manner, where the combined larger luggage and carry-on are unbalanced and tip over, thus adding the inconvenience and hassle of potentially harming the bags contents, especially the high value contents of the smaller carry-on bag.
  • Further issues that exacerbate the dynamic stability problem with the larger piece of luggage trying to carry the ad-hoc attached smaller carry-on bag is that the smaller bag is typically quite dense in mass, meaning that if it is full of electronic devices, it is quite heavy, especially due to the laptop and battery, chargers, and so on, thus this denser high weight carry-on bag is placed in the worst possible position being the typically on top of the larger lower weight density luggage, meaning that the top heavy weight instability is made worse, that is especially noticeable when the traveler is making a turn and the larger bag on the bottom wants to tip over. In addition, the stability of the combination low weight density lower larger bag is made worse by this larger bag typically having a two wheel setup typically puts the ad-hoc attached heavy carry-on bag at a greater distance from the surface due to the hypotenuse effect of angling the larger bag on two wheels (as opposed to a four wheel arrangement), that does not have the hypotenuse effect of increasing the distance of the carry-on bag weight from the surface.
  • Thus the greater the distance that the carry-on bag is from the surface the more unstable the combination large bag and carry-on bag is, thus one goal is to minimize the distance above the surface that the carry-on bag is positioned at. Another issue is the pacing cadence or stride of the traveler when they are walking and pulling the two wheeled tilted or angled luggage behind them, as when an individual normally walks, their arms naturally move in a counterbalancing pendulum effect, which results in the two wheeled bag tending to oscillate back and forth as an individual pulls the angled two wheeled bag forward across a surface, this can effectuate a pendulum effect upon causing the highest movement of the oscillating motion to occur at the carry-on bag, as it is the furthest from the pivot point, being the two wheels and surface interface. What this results in is the high density mass weight of the carry-on experiences the maximum movement leading to an ever higher potential dynamic instability of the combination larger bag and the ad-hoc placed on top of the carry-on bag while being pulled across the surface by the traveler, leading potentially to increased potential for tip over's.
  • Thus, for a number of reason a four wheel larger bag is desirable, especially for piggybacking a carry-on bag, as there is no hypotenuse effect on instability, and no cadence or stride effect caused oscillating pendulum effect, furthermore when the combination large bag and carry-on are “parked” i.e. placed statically upon the surface and just standing up on its own, the four wheel large bag system has an inherent stability that the two wheel bag does not.
  • The prior art has recognized the importance and the need for the aforementioned piggybacking on the carry-on to the larger bag and has offered a number of solutions that are described below; starting with U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,086 to Waddell, et al., disclosed a wheeled upright luggage case of the type described whose generally parallelepiped body has a depth dimension and a width dimension, each of which is less than its height dimension, at least a pair of wheels spaced long the width dimension normally located along a back corner portion of the bottom of the body, and a pull handle mounted at an upper end of the body for moving the case on the wheels along a supporting surface. The Waddell et al., luggage case has a center of gravity about in the geometric center of the body, and at least one other wheel mounted on the bottom of the body at a distance along the depth dimension forward of the pair of wheels, the other wheel mounted on the case such that the major axis of the body, when the body is resting on the other wheel and the pair of wheels, tilts at an angle from vertical. In Waddell et al., a vertical line passing through the center of gravity falls between the pair of wheels and the other wheel, whereby the case can stand unattended on the wheels and pushed or pulled by the handle on at least some of the wheels.
  • Preferably, this angle in Waddell et al., from the vertical is from about nine degrees to about twelve degrees and the handle preferably comprises a handle grip and is mounted on at least one elongated rod to place the handle grip in a convenient position for the user. This elongated rod preferably extends from the body at an angle from the vertical from about forty degrees to about forty-five degrees. The elongated in Waddell et al., rod may be mounted to extend in parallel relationship with the major axis of the body, but is preferably mounted on the body to selectively pivot to a use position forming an angle with the vertical of about forty-two degrees when the major axis of the body is tilted at the most preferred angle of about ten degrees from the vertical, furthermore disclosed alternative handles and body configurations are within the scope of the invention, see Column 2, lines 31-63.
  • Continuing in the luggage prior art area in U.S. Pat. No. 7,478,711 to Liang, disclosed an ergonomic wheeled baggage case comprises a case body, a set of front wheels, a set of rear wheels, and a handle attached to the case body. The case body in Liang includes a top side, a bottom side, and front, rear, left and right panels interconnecting the top and bottom sides. The bottom side in Liang has front and rear ends connected respectively to the front and rear panels with the front and rear panels are spaced apart from each other at a first distance. The left and right panels in Liang are spaced apart from each other at a second distance which is longer than the first distance, with the front and rear wheels are attached respectively to the front and rear ends of the bottom side, and have bottommost ends which are substantially coplanar on a plane. The bottom side is oblique to the plane in Liang and the front, rear, left and right panels are substantially perpendicular to the plane, with the top side being substantially parallel to the plane and the front end of the bottom side has a height from the plane higher than that of the rear end of the bottom side, see Column 1, lines 58-67, and Column 2, lines 1-8.
  • Next in the luggage prior art area, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,802,409 to Tiramani, et al., disclosed a luggage article includes a storage compartment and first rolling means projecting from the storage compartment. A wheeled panel mechanism in Tiramani, et al. is provided which includes a pivotably mounted panel, the panel having second rolling means. Operatively associated with the wheeled panel mechanism in Tiramani, et al. is a handle which is movable between a retracted position and an extended position. The luggage article in Tiramani, et al. finally includes means for selective deployment or nondeployment of the second rolling means when the handle is moved from the retracted position to the extended position. In this way, the user has a choice to use or not use the second rolling means even when the handle is in an extended position; see Column 1, lines 39-51.
  • Yet further in the luggage prior art, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,792,025 to Thomas disclosed a suitcase is modified to have wheels at the bottom corners of the rear face of the suitcase, a retractable handle with an offset to secure stacked luggage against the offset, and a spring actuated folding shelf which can grip adjacent luggage items. The offset handle in Thomas can be used for normal lifting when retracted and pulling when extended and an offset allows the extension structure to be placed in the rear wall of the suitcase while the handle is placed in the normal central location. The offset in Thomas also lowers the center of gravity of the combination, especially when other items of luggage are stacked on the extensible handle and the shelf is incorporated into the front wall, and can be folded out and down to support adjacent luggage. The shelf in Thomas is spring loaded towards the closed (flush with suitcase) position, in order to secure the shelf when not in use and to grip adjacent luggage when the shelf is deployed. Wheels are placed in recessed corners using a single bracket and axle component which provides added structural integrity with minimum added weight. Note that in Thomas, all of the previously mentioned instability issues are present, being the two wheeled design, placing the high weight density items at the furthest distance from the surface, and the cadence oscillating pendulum issue.
  • Continuing, in the luggage prior art area, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,377,795 to Berman, disclosed a two way towable luggage case comprising a generally parallelepiped body portion having a bottom wall, a top wall, a front wall, a rear wall, and two side walls; with the bottom wall having a predetermined longitudinal axis and a predetermined width axis perpendicular to said longitudinal axis; the longitudinal axis defining a first towable direction and said width axis defining a second towable direction; a pair of longitudinally spaced first wheels mounted in fixed axle casters adjacent a first edge of said bottom wall and proximate to said front and rear walls; the first wheels rotating about caster axes parallel to said width axis. Also included in Berman is a pair of longitudinally spaced second wheels mounted in swivelable casters mounted adjacent a second edge of said bottom wall opposite said first edge; the swivelable casters having swivelable caster axes, whereby the second wheels may rotate on axes parallel to either of the predetermined longitudinal and the predetermined width axes. In Berman a telescopic handle associated with said first edge and deployable from a retracted position to a fully extended position; said body being towable by said handle on both the first and second wheels in the longitudinal direction or being towable on the second wheels alone in said width direction with the bottom wall canted from a horizontal plane.
  • What is needed is a steerable carriage apparatus that is adaptable to being functional in accommodating the carry-on bag in a stable manner both dynamically and statically “parked” that is also having the carry-on bag easily selectably attached and removed to the larger bag. As per the prior review of the statics and dynamics involved in the piggyback luggage type combination with the carry-on high weight density bag and the larger lower weight density bag, there some desirable goals would include a four wheel design, minimizing the distance from the surface to the carry-on bag, and designing the combination carry-on bag and larger luggage piece to be in a balanced state both statically and dynamically.
  • SUMMARY OF INVENTION
  • Broadly, the present invention is a steerable carriage apparatus for manually transporting a payload across a surface, with the steerable carriage apparatus including a frame having a frame first end portion and a frame second end portion, further included is a plurality of arms each having a pivotal attachment to the frame first end portion. Wherein each pivotal attachment having a pivotal axis that is at an obtuse angle in relation to the surface, further each pivotal attachment is operational to allow a pivotal movement about each pivotal axis of each arm in relation to the frame first end portion. Also included in the steerable carriage apparatus is a plurality of first rotating elements that are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, each of the plurality of first rotating elements forming a contact on the surface, wherein each obtuse angle is adjacent to each contact on the surface, also each of the first rotating elements is operational to be steerable.
  • These and other objects of the present invention will become more readily appreciated and understood from a consideration of the following detailed description of the exemplary embodiments of the present invention when taken together with the accompanying drawings, in which;
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the steerable carriage apparatus or more specifically a base housing with a removably engagable auxiliary housing, a plurality of arms that are pivotally attached to the base housing, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, wherein operationally the combination of the base housing and auxiliary housing are free standing upon the surface;
  • FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the steerable carriage apparatus or more specifically a base housing with the removably engagable auxiliary housing removed, also the plurality of arms that are pivotally attached to the base housing, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements that are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, wherein operationally the base housing is free standing upon the surface;
  • FIG. 3 shows a side elevation view of the steerable carriage apparatus or more specifically a base housing with a removably engagable auxiliary housing, a plurality of arms that are pivotally attached to the base housing, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, wherein operationally the combination of the base housing and auxiliary housing are free standing upon the surface, further shown is the centroid of the base housing, the moved centroid of the base housing with the optional mass as shown in FIG. 4, and the composite centroid of the base housing, mass, and auxiliary housing combined;
  • FIG. 4 also shows a side elevation view of the steerable carriage apparatus or more specifically a base housing with the removably engagable auxiliary housing removed, also the plurality of arms that are pivotally attached to the base housing, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements that are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, wherein operationally the base housing is free standing upon the surface, further the mass is shown that is disposed within the base housing interior, the centroid of the base housing, the moved centroid of the base housing with the optional mass, and a payload also disposed within the base housing interior;
  • FIG. 5 shows an expanded side elevation view of view 5-5 as depicted in FIG. 4, also the plurality of arms that are pivotally attached to the base housing, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements that are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, further shown is a pivotal axis for each arm, wherein each pivotal axis is at an obtuse angle in relation to the surface, with the obtuse angle adjacent to a surface contact of each rotational element, also shown is a trail distance from the surface contact to the intersection of the pivotal axis to the surface, in addition the base housing having a longitudinal axis that is at a third obtuse angle also in relation to the surface, with the third obtuse angle adjacent to a second plane formed from the second pivotal axis;
  • FIG. 6 shows a cross section view of FIG. 5, as taken at view 6-6 from FIG. 1, also the plurality of arms that are pivotally attached to the base housing, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements that are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, further shown is a pivotal axis for each arm, wherein each pivotal axis is at an obtuse angle in relation to the surface, with the obtuse angle adjacent to a surface contact of each rotational element, also shown is a trail distance from the surface contact to the intersection of the pivotal axis to the surface, also shown is a means for automatic selectable conditional substantial restriction of rotational element rotation, a means for selectable manual substantial restriction of pivotal movement about the pivotal axis, further shown in addition is the base housing having a longitudinal axis that is at a third obtuse angle also in relation to the surface, with the third obtuse angle adjacent to a second plane formed from the second pivotal axis;
  • FIG. 7 is based upon FIG. 5, showing the expanded side elevation view of view 5-5 as depicted in FIG. 4, also the plurality of arms that are pivotally attached to the base housing, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements that are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, further shown are a pivotal axis for each arm, wherein each pivotal axis is at an obtuse angle in relation to the surface, with the obtuse angle adjacent to a surface contact of each rotational element, also shown is a trail distance from the surface contact to the intersection of the pivotal axis to the surface, wherein the arms and rotational elements are partially pivotally rotated via the pivotal movement to show the reduction in the trail distance that also results in a elevation increase of the base housing, in addition the base housing having a longitudinal axis that is at a third obtuse angle also in relation to the surface, with the third obtuse angle adjacent to a second plane formed from the second pivotal axis;
  • FIG. 8 is based upon FIG. 2, with a cut-away to more clearly show the first plane formed form the first pivotal axis and the second plane formed form the second pivotal axis, with the base housing having the removably engagable auxiliary housing removed for pictorial clarity, also the plurality of arms that are pivotally attached to the base housing, wherein additionally the plurality of rotational elements that are each rotationally attached to each of the arms, wherein operationally the base housing is free standing upon the surface; and
  • FIG. 9 shows a perspective use view of the steerable carriage apparatus based upon FIG. 3, with the user specifically pulling a luggage apparatus across the surface with the user walking in a normal cadence pace across the surface, further shown in the pendulum type motion of the user's arm that is effectuated into the luggage apparatus from the user's normal cadence pace across the surface, wherein operationally an inadvertent wandering movement of the luggage apparatus across the surface while being pulled by the user is minimized.
  • REFERENCE NUMBERS IN DRAWINGS
    • 30 Steerable carriage apparatus
    • 35 Steerable apparatus
    • 40 Luggage apparatus
    • 45 Carriage
    • 50 Surface
    • 55 Payload
    • 60 Manual directional movement in transporting the payload 55 across the surface 50 via the steerable carriage apparatus 30, the steerable apparatus 35, or the luggage apparatus 40
    • 65 Frame
    • 70 First end portion of the frame 65
    • 75 Second end portion of the frame 65
    • 80 Structure
    • 85 Primary end portion of the structure 80
    • 90 Secondary end portion of the structure 80
    • 95 Base housing
    • 100 Proximal end portion of the base housing 95
    • 105 Distal end portion of the base housing 95
    • 110 Longitudinal axis of the base housing 95
    • 115 Centroid of the base housing 95
    • 116 Composite centroid of the base housing 95 with added mass 375 combined
    • 117 Composite centroid of the base housing 95, added mass 375, and auxiliary housing 335 all combined
    • 120 Surrounding sidewall of the base housing 95
    • 125 Interior of the base housing 95
    • 130 Plurality of arms
    • 135 Pivotal axis
    • 140 Pivotal attachment of each arm 130
    • 145 Pivotal movement about the pivotal axis 135 resulting from movement 60 across the surface 50 acting at the rotating element 190 contact 205 via trail distance moment arm 415 or 420 that manifests in pivotal movement 145
    • 150 Plurality of smaller arms
    • 155 First pivotal attachment of each smaller arm 150
    • 160 First pivotal axis of the first pivotal attachment 155
    • 165 First plane
    • 170 Co-planar position of each first pivotal axis 160 forming the first plane 165
    • 175 Obtuse angle
    • 180 First obtuse angle
    • 185 First pivotal movement about each first pivotal axis 160 resulting from movement 60 across the surface 50 acting at the smaller rotating element 215 contact 225 via trail distance moment arm 415 and that manifests in pivotal movement 185
    • 190 Plurality of first rotating elements
    • 200 Rotational attachment and axis of each first rotating element 190 to each arm 130
    • 201 Rotational movement of each first rotating element 190
    • 205 Contact on the surface 50 of each first rotating element 190
    • 210 Steerable operation of each first rotating element 190
    • 215 Plurality of smaller rotating elements
    • 220 Rotational attachment and axis of each smaller rotating element 215 to each smaller arm 150
    • 221 Rotational movement of each smaller rotating element 215
    • 225 Minor contact on the surface 50 of each smaller rotating element 215
    • 230 Steerable operation of each smaller rotating element 215
    • 235 Plurality of larger arms
    • 240 Second pivotal attachment of each larger arm 235
    • 245 Second pivotal axis of the second pivotal attachment 240
    • 250 Second plane
    • 255 Co-planar position of each second pivotal axis 245 forming the second plane 250
    • 260 Second obtuse angle
    • 265 Second pivotal movement about each second pivotal axis 245 resulting from movement 60 across the surface 50 acting at the larger rotating element 270 contact 280 via trail distance moment arm 420 and that manifests in pivotal movement 265
    • 270 Plurality of larger rotating elements
    • 275 Rotational attachment and axis of each larger rotating element 270 to each larger arm 235
    • 276 Rotational movement of each larger rotating element 270
    • 280 Major contact on the surface 50 of each larger rotating element 270
    • 285 Steerable operation of each larger rotating element 270
    • 290 Adjacent position of each obtuse angle 175 by the contact 205 on the surface 50
    • 295 Adjacent position of each first obtuse angle 180 by the minor contact 225 on the surface 50
    • 300 Adjacent position of each second obtuse angle 260 by the major contact 280 on the surface 50
    • 305 Third obtuse angle
    • 310 Adjacent position of the third obtuse angle 305 by the larger rotating elements 270
    • 315 Non-turning mode of each arm 130
    • 320 Means for urging each arm 130, 150, or 235 into the non-turning mode 315 or 395
    • 325 Inadvertent wandering movement of the frame 65 on and across the surface 50
    • 330 Inadvertent wandering movement of the structure 80, carriage 45, or luggage apparatus 40 on and across the surface 50
    • 335 Auxiliary housing
    • 340 Inadvertent wandering movement of the combination of the base 95 and the auxiliary 335 housings on and across the surface 50
    • 345 Dampener for dampening the pivotal movement 145
    • 350 Dampener for dampening the first 185 and second 265 pivotal movement
    • 355 Means for manual selectable substantial restriction of the pivotal movement 145
    • 360 Means for manual selectable substantial restriction of the first 185 and second 265 pivotal movements
    • 365 Means for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the first rotational element 190 rotational movement 201
    • 370 Means for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the smaller 215 or larger 270 rotational elements from rotational movement 221 and 276 respectively
    • 375 Mass disposed within the base housing 95 interior 125
    • 380 Displacement distance of the base housing 95 centroid 115 toward the proximal end portion 100 from mass 375
    • 381 Displacement distance of the base housing 95 centroid 115 toward the proximal end portion 100 from mass 375 and the auxiliary housing 335
    • 382 Displacement distance of the base housing 95 centroid 115 toward the second plane 250 from mass 375 and the auxiliary housing 335
    • 385 Adjacent positioning of the auxiliary housing 335 to the second plane 250
    • 390 Removable engagement of the auxiliary housing 335 to the base housing 95
    • 395 Non-turning mode of each arm 130, each smaller arm 150, and each larger arm 235
    • 400 Means for urging each smaller arm 150 and each larger arm 235 into the non-turning mode 395
    • 405 Pivotal axis 135 and 160 intersection with the surface 50
    • 410 Pivotal axis 135 and 245 intersection with the surface 50
    • 415 Trail distance from intersection 405 to surface contact 205 and minor surface contact 225
    • 420 Trail distance from intersection 410 to surface contact 205 and major surface contact 280
    • 425 Movement in relation to surface 50 along axes 135 and 160
    • 430 Movement in relation to surface 50 along axes 135 and 245
    • 435 Pivoting shaft about axes 135 and 160
    • 440 Pivoting shaft about axes 135 and 245
    • 441 Threaded outside diameter washer adjacent to the resilient element 460
    • 445 Receptacle for pivoting shaft 435
    • 450 Receptacle for pivoting shaft 440
    • 455 Spring for means 320 for urging each arm 130, 150, or 235 into the non-turning mode 315
    • 460 Resilient element for damper 345 for dampening the pivotal movement 145 and damper 350 for dampening the first 185 and second 265 pivotal movements
    • 465 Spring for means 365 for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the first rotational element 190 rotational movement 201 and means 370 for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the smaller 215 or larger 270 rotational elements from rotational movement 221 and 276 respectively
    • 470 Pad for means 365 for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the first rotational element 190 rotational movement 201 and means 370 for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the smaller 215 or larger 270 rotational elements from rotational movement 221 and 276 respectively to selectively contact rotating elements 190, 215, or 270
    • 475 Cable for placing means 365 for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the first rotational element 190 rotational movement 201 and means 370 for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the smaller 215 or larger 270 rotational elements from rotational movement 221 and 276 respectively into a restricted rotational operational state or a free rotational operational state for rotating elements 190, 215, or 270
    • 480 Surface 50 liftoff distance of rotating element 190 or 215 due to pivotal movement 145 or 185
    • 485 Surface 50 liftoff distance of rotating element 190 or 270 due to pivotal movement 145 or 265
    • 500 Individual user
    • 505 User's arm
    • 510 Pendulum type movement of the user's 500 arm 505
    DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • With initial reference to FIG. 1 shown is a perspective view of the steerable carriage apparatus 30 or more specifically a base housing 95 with a removably engagable 390 auxiliary housing 335, a plurality of arms 130 that are pivotally attached 140 to the base housing 95, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements 190 are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130, wherein operationally the combination of the base housing 95 and the auxiliary housing 335 are free standing upon the surface 50. Next, FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the steerable carriage apparatus 30 or more specifically a base housing 95 with the removably engagable 390 auxiliary housing 335 removed, also the plurality of arms 130 that are pivotally attached 140 to the base housing 95, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements 190 that are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms, wherein operationally the base housing 95 is free standing upon the surface 50.
  • Continuing, FIG. 3 shows a side elevation view of the steerable carriage apparatus 30 or more specifically a base housing 95 with a removably engagable 390 auxiliary housing 335, a plurality of arms 130 that are pivotally attached 140 to the base housing 95, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements 190 are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130, wherein operationally the combination of the base housing 95 and auxiliary housing 335 are free standing upon the surface 50. Further shown in FIG. 3 is the centroid 115 of the base housing 95, the moved centroid 116 of the base housing 95 with the optional mass 375 as shown in FIG. 4, and the composite centroid 117 of the base housing 95, mass 375, and auxiliary housing 335 combined.
  • Next, FIG. 4 also shows a side elevation view of the steerable carriage apparatus 30 or more specifically a base housing 95 again with the removably engagable 390 auxiliary housing 335 removed, also the plurality of arms 130 that are pivotally attached 140 to the base housing 95, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements 190 that are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130. Wherein operationally in FIG. 4, the base housing 95 is free standing upon the surface 50, further the mass 375 is shown that is disposed within the base housing 95 interior 125, the centroid 115 of the base housing 95, the moved centroid 116 of the base housing 95 with the optional mass 375, and a payload 55 also disposed within the base housing 95 interior 125.
  • Yet further in FIG. 5 shown is an expanded side elevation view of view 5-5 as depicted in FIG. 4, also the plurality of arms 130 that are pivotally attached 140 to the base housing 95, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements 190 that are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130, further shown is a pivotal axis 135 for each arm 130, wherein each pivotal axis 135 is at an obtuse angle 175 in relation to the surface 50, with the obtuse angle 175 adjacent to a surface contact 205 of each rotational element 190. Also shown in FIG. 5 is a trail distance 415 and 420 from the surface 50 contact 205, 225, or 280 to the intersection 405 and 410 of the pivotal axis 135 to the surface 50, in addition the base housing 95 having a longitudinal axis 110 that is at a third obtuse angle 305 also in relation to the surface 50, with the third obtuse angle 305 adjacent 310 to a second plane 250 formed from the second pivotal axis 245.
  • Continuing, FIG. 6 shows a cross section view of FIG. 5, as taken from view 6-6 from FIG. 1, also the plurality of arms 130 that are pivotally attached 140 to the base housing 95, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements 190 that are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130, further shown is a pivotal axis 135 for each arm 130, wherein each pivotal axis 135 is at an obtuse angle 175 in relation to the surface 50, with the obtuse angle 175 adjacent 290 to a surface 50 contact 205 of each rotational element 190. Also shown in FIG. 6, is a trail distance 415 and 420 from the surface 50 contact 205, 225, or 280 to the intersection 405 and 410 of the pivotal axis 135 to the surface 50, further shown is a means 365 for automatic selectable conditional substantial restriction of rotational element 190 rotation 201, a means 355 for selectable manual substantial restriction of the pivotal movement 145 about the pivotal axis 135. Further shown in FIG. 6, is the base housing 95 having a longitudinal axis 110 that is at a third obtuse angle 305 also in relation to the surface 50, with the third obtuse angle 305 adjacent 310 to a second plane 250 formed from the second pivotal axis 245.
  • Next, FIG. 7 is based upon FIG. 5, showing the expanded side elevation view of view 5-5 as depicted in FIG. 4, also the plurality of arms 130 that are pivotally attached 140 to the base housing 95, wherein additionally a plurality of rotational elements 190 that are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130, further shown is a pivotal axis 135 for each arm 130, wherein each pivotal axis 135 is at an obtuse angle 175 in relation to the surface 50, with the obtuse angle 175 being adjacent 290 to a surface 50 contact 205 of each rotational element 190. Also shown in FIG. 7 is a trail distance 415 and 420 from the surface 50 contact 205, 225, or 280 to the intersection 405 and 410 of the pivotal axis 135 to the surface 50. Wherein FIG. 7 shows the arms 130 and rotational elements 190 are partially pivotally rotated via the pivotal movement 145, 265, or 285 to show the reduction in the trail distance 415 and 420 that also results in a elevation increase movement 425 and 430 of the base housing 95 in relation to the surface 50. In addition FIG. 7 shows the base housing 95 having a longitudinal axis 110 that is at the third obtuse angle 305 also in relation to the surface 50, with the third obtuse angle 305 adjacent 310 to the second plane 250 formed from the second pivotal axis 245.
  • Continuing further, FIG. 8 is based upon FIG. 2, with a cut-away to more clearly show the first plane 165 formed form the first pivotal axis 160 and the second plane 250 formed form the second pivotal axis 245, with the base housing 95 having the removably engagable 390 auxiliary housing 335 removed for pictorial clarity. Also in FIG. 8, the plurality of arms 130 are shown that are pivotally attached 140 to the base housing 95, wherein additionally the plurality of rotational elements 190 are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130, wherein operationally the base housing 95 is free standing upon the surface 50. Yet further FIG. 9 shows a perspective use view of the steerable carriage apparatus 30 based upon FIG. 3, with the user 500 specifically pulling a luggage apparatus 40 across the surface 50 with the user 500 walking in a normal cadence pace across the surface 50, further shown in the pendulum type motion 510 of the user's 500 arm 505 that is effectuated into the luggage apparatus 40 from the user's 500 normal cadence pace across the surface 50 wherein operationally an inadvertent wandering movement 325, 330, or 340 of the luggage apparatus 40 across the surface 50 while being pulled by the user 500 is minimized.
  • Broadly the present invention, as best shown in FIGS. 1 through 9, is a steerable carriage apparatus 30 for manually transporting a payload 55 across a surface 50. Although FIGS. 1 through 9, specifically show a luggage apparatus 40, the steerable carriage apparatus 30 could be interpreted as any type of manually pushed or pulled cart for generally carrying a payload 55, such as computer equipment, food, small appliances, or any article that is of a size and weight that would lend itself to being manually pushed or pulled across a surface 50, by an individual 500.
  • The steerable carriage apparatus 30 includes a frame 65 that has a frame first end portion 70 and a frame second end portion 75, with the frame first end portion 70 being adjacent to the surface 50 and the frame second end portion 75 being adjacent to the payload 55, in looking at FIGS. 1 though 4. Further included in the steerable carriage apparatus 30 is a plurality of arms 130 each including a pivotal attachment 140 to the frame first end portion 70, with each pivotal attachment 140 having a pivotal axis 135 that is at an obtuse angle 175 in relation to the surface 50, as best shown in FIGS. 5 through 7. Wherein, each pivotal attachment 140 is operational to allow a pivotal movement 145 about each pivotal axis 135 of each arm 130 in relation to the frame first end portion 70, as depicted in FIG. 7. Also included in the steerable carriage apparatus 30 is a plurality of first rotating elements 190 that are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130, wherein each of the plurality of first rotating elements 190 forming a contact 205 on the surface 50, wherein each obtuse angle 175 is adjacent 290 to each contact 205 on the surface 50, see FIG. 5, resulting in each of the first rotating elements 190 being operational to be steerable 210, see FIG. 7. The preferred angle of the obtuse angle 175 is about in the range of 95 to 120 degrees, of which the effect will be further explained below.
  • As an alternative embodiment to the steerable carriage apparatus 30, a steerable apparatus 35 that is adapted to attach to a carriage 45 for manually transporting a payload 55 across a surface 50, as best shown in FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, essentially including the steering and control portion of the present invention as follows that includes, a structure 80 having a structure 80 primary end portion 85 and a structure 80 secondary end portion 90 that is adapted to attach to the carriage 45, wherein the carriage 45 can be a trunk, a tool box, or any other article that needs to be manually moved across a surface 80.
  • Further included in the steerable apparatus 35 is a plurality of arms 130 each including a pivotal attachment 140 to the structure primary end portion 85, with each pivotal attachment 140 having a pivotal axis 135 that is at an obtuse angle 175 in relation to the surface 50, as best shown in FIGS. 5 through 7. Wherein, each pivotal attachment 140 is operational to allow a pivotal movement 145 about each pivotal axis 135 of each arm 130 in relation to the structure primary end portion 85, as depicted in FIG. 7. Also included in the steerable apparatus 35 is a plurality of first rotating elements 190 that are each rotationally attached 200 to each of the arms 130, wherein each of the plurality of first rotating elements 190 forming a contact 205 on the surface 50, wherein each obtuse angle 175 is adjacent 290 to each contact 205 on the surface 50, see FIG. 5, resulting in each of the first rotating elements 190 being operational to be steerable 210, see FIG. 7. The preferred angle of the obtuse angle 175 is about in the range of 95 to 120 degrees, of which the effect is further explained below.
  • Alternatively, on the steerable carriage apparatus 30, the steerable apparatus 35, or the luggage apparatus 40, can include a means 320 for urging each arm 130, 150, or 235 into a non turning mode 395, as shown in FIGS. 1 through 6, via the pivotal movement 145, 185, or 265 that is operational to prevent inadvertent omnidirectional wandering 325, 330, or 340 movement of the frame 65, structure 80, or base housing 95 across the surface 50, see the use FIG. 9. This is an important improvement in the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 for control and ease of use. As the latest concept in current or prior art luggage design for instance is the use of four conventional castered wheels, wherein the caster pivotal axes are oriented perpendicular to the surface, with the luggage free standing perpendicularly upright upon the surface, having the advantages of omnidirectional movement across the surface makes this design attractive. This being in comparison to the prior past luggage technology of just two co-axial fixed rotational wheels on the same rotational axis that required the user pulling the prior luggage to additionally have the user support the leaning weight of the entire piece of luggage with their arm adding to fatigue and hassle of pulling the luggage across the surface.
  • Further, the prior luggage two wheeled design would tend to follow a zigzag path across the surface in use from the user's normal walking cadence resulting in the normal pendulum movement of the user's arm moving the luggage handle laterally during walking. Thus causing the prior two wheeled leaning design to pivot about the wheel rotational axis quite dramatically, as the moment arm pivot movement is the distance from the extended handle to the wheels-which can be three to five feet, i.e. resulting in the zigzag path across the surface of the two wheeled leaning luggage that is pulled by the user. A further issue is when the user is walking fast especially for a top heavy or heavily loaded piece of luggage, this zigzag path could even cause the luggage to roll over or tilt on its side, similar to a heavily loaded tractor trailer truck taking a sharp turn on a road and potentially rolling over.
  • Wherein when the new design luggage with the previously mentioned four caster wheels, is pulled or pushed across the surface without leaning the luggage (i.e. the luggage stays perpendicularly upright in relation to the surface), thus the lateral movement acting through the previously discussed moment arm from the user's arm moving in a pendulum type movement is eliminated and further with four wheels instead of the prior design two wheels stability in relation to the surface is enhanced. However, all is not perfect with the new luggage design, as anyone who has pushed or pulled a cart with four casters knows that the cart tends to wander omni-directionally across the surface, as when the user pushes the cart it tends to go to the left and right without any forward movement biased stability, and this is where the new design luggage is defective, as a caster will tend to wonder across the surface, especially if all the wheels are castered, (this is why a grocery cart has two fixed rear wheels and two castered front wheels for manual pushing/pulling stability).
  • Also prior art casters have the bad habit of oscillating back and forth laterally in an annoying resonance about their pivotal axis as the walking speed increases, with the resonance being about the moment arm of the trail distance via the pivotal axis movement. Trail distance in a caster wheel being defined as the unchanging distance (as the caster wheel pivots about its pivotal axis) between the wheel outside diameter contact point on the surface (which is directly below the wheel rotational axis, which is parallel to the surface) and the pivotal axis theoretical perpendicular intersection with the surface as the wheel pivots about the pivotal axis. Wherein in normal operation rolling across a surface the wheel to surface contact is behind the pivotal axis theoretical intersection with the surface as the wheel is rolled forward. Thus, returning to the caster oscillation, which acts to swing the wheel straight ahead can over swing the wheel past going straight wherein the reverse moment arm will swing the wheel in an opposing direction again too far past going straight, thus setting up an oscillation or wheel flutter, as anyone who pushed a grocery shopping cart or for instance a wheel chair at a fast walk has experienced wherein the front caster wheels will oscillate.
  • This brings us back to the obtuse angle 175 of the pivotal axis 135, or in addition the first obtuse angle 180 of the first pivotal axis 160, the second obtuse angle 260 of the second pivotal axis 245, see FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, which equates to the present invention not using a conventional caster wheel, i.e. with the conventional caster wheel having the pivotal axis perpendicular to the surface and the trail distance never changing as the caster wheel pivots about its pivotal axis, i.e. exactly as the front two wheels operate in a typical four wheel grocery cart. On the present invention the obtuse angle 175, the first obtuse angle 180, or the second obtuse angle 260 completely changes the wheel (or rotating element 190, the smaller rotating element 215, or the larger rotating element 270) geometric effects of turning, i.e. movement 145, 185, or 265 about the pivotal axis 135, 160, or 245 respectively in a beneficial manner.
  • In the bicycle and motorcycle arts, angling the steering pivotal axis is used to improve the stability of steering of the front wheel; however for both bicycles and motorcycles the angled pivotal axis is angled into the normal direction of forward movement, hence the angling outward or forward toward the surface of the front fork that straddles the front wheel. Wherein for the bicycle and motorcycle, the pivotal axis is offset rearward to control the trail distance, wherein what's unique with the bicycle and motorcycle is that the trail distance equals the theoretical intersection of the angled pivotal axis to the surface that must be ahead or in-front of the front wheel contact on the surface to form the trail distance correctly, to make the proper correcting moment to bias the bicycle or motorcycle wheel to default to the straight ahead steering position, of course this trail induced bias only occurring when the wheel is in motion across the surface. In summary, the bicycle and motorcycle uses the angled pivotal axis offset to facilitate the proper trail distance due to the aspect that the steering fork is angled forward into the normal direction of travel from the pivotal connection of the frame on the bicycle or motorcycle to the wheel rotational connection with the front fork, thus as the operation of the bicycle or motorcycle is with the turning or steering initiated at the handle bar which is directly connected to the front fork moving or turning through the offset pivotal axis.
  • On the present invention, the opposite is true, with the turning or steering initiated at the surface 50 and rotating elements 190, 215, or 270 contacts 205, 225, or 280 respectively interface, wherein the obtuse angles 175, 180, or 260 related to pivotal axes 135, 160, or 245 respectively, are angled away from the direction of travel 60, again see FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, thereby reversing the theoretical intersection 405 and 410 of the pivotal axes 135, 160, or 245 on the surface 50 and trail distances 415 and 420 to the rotating elements 190, 215, or 270 contacts 205, 225, or 280 respectively on the surface 50. Or in other words the obtuse angles 175, 180, or 260 from the pivotal attachments 140, 155, or 240 related to pivotal axes 135, 10, or 245 respectively toward the surface 50 theoretical intersections 405 and 410 are angled away from the direction of movement 60 being just the opposite of the bicycle or motorcycle wherein the pivotal axis is angled into the direction of movement. Thus, on the present invention, these obtuse angles 175, 180, and 260 has three very desirable effects related to the arms 130, 150 and 235 and rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 assemblies turning or moving 145, 185, and 265 about the pivotal axes 135, 160, and 245 respectively.
  • Firstly, as is best shown in FIG. 7, as movement 145, 185, and 265 occurs, the trail distance 415 and 420 changes (note that for a caster wheel assembly with the pivotal axis perpendicular to the surface the trail distance does not change as the wheel pivots about the rotational axis, wherein the rotational axis stays parallel to the surface), this change in the trail distance 415 and 420 in the present invention occurs as follows, in the non turning mode 395 (going straight ahead across the surface 50), as FIGS. 5 and 6 show, the trail distance 415 and 420 is at its maximum distance and as the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 assemblies turn or move 145, 185, and 265 about the pivotal axes 135, 160, and 245 away from the non turning mode 395 the trail distance 415 and 420 starts to reduce in distance, as shown in FIG. 7.
  • This reduction in trail distance 415 and 420 equates to that for a given speed across 60 the surface 50, the correcting moment being defined as pivotal movement 145, 185, and 265 toward non-turning mode 395 is maximized when the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 are at or near the non-turning mode 395 and minimized when the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 are moved 145, 185, and 265 further away from the non-turning mode 395, this helps in reducing the prior art caster wheel tendency toward oscillation or flutter as previously described. Thus, as the moment movement 145, 185, and 265 to bring the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 from being away from the non-turning mode 395 to the non-turning mode 395 starts gradually and increases when the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 move toward the non-tuning mode 395 as movement 60 across the surface occurs. This being in accordance to the trail distance 415 and 420 being reduced (lower moment pivotal movement 145, 185, and 265) when the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotation elements 190, 215, and 270 are turned away from the non-turning mode 395, see FIG. 7, and then the trail distance 415 and 420 gradually increasing (increasing moment pivotal movement 145, 185, and 265) as the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotation elements 190, 215, and 270 approaching the non-turning mode 395.
  • Secondly, as best shown in FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, another benefit of the obtuse angles 175, 180, and 260 in the present invention is that when the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 are in the non-turning mode 395, as in FIGS. 5 and 6, the movement 425 and 430 along the pivotal axes 135, 160, and 245 is at its closest to the surface 50 and as the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 are moved 145, 185, and 265 away from the non-turning mode 395 the movement 425 and 430 along the pivotal axes 135, 160, and 245 move toward being away from the surface 50. This benefit of the movement 425 and 430 means that through the effect of gravity, i.e. the weight of the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 (excluding the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 as being in a fixed relationship to the surface 50 along movement 425 and 430) tends to bias or urge as means 320 and 400 for the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 into the non-turning mode 395 whether the movement 60 is occurring or not, i.e. even when the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 is in the static state in relation to the surface 50.
  • Thus the combination with the induced movement 425 and 430 and the varying trail distance 415 and 420 either individually or in combination (wherein they would be in combination if movement 60 were occurring or gravity induced weight movement 425 and 430 only toward the surface 50 in the static state as defined above) are operational to effectuate the means 320 and 400 for urging each arm 130, 150, and 235 into the non turning mode 395 and also to help prevent the previously described wandering movement 325, 330, or 340, resulting in a more stable movement 60 across the surface 50 of the steerable carriage apparatus 30, the steerable apparatus 35, and luggage apparatus 40. The preferred trail distance 415 and 420 is between about one-sixteenth on an inch to one-half of an inch, as measured in the non-turning mode 395, wherein on the luggage apparatus 40 the preferred trail distance 415 is about one-quarter inch and for the trail distance 420 is about three-eighths on an inch.
  • Thirdly, as particularly noted in FIG. 7, as the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 move into the non-turning mode 395, one of the rotating elements 190, 215, and 270 lifts off of the surface 50 by a distance 480 and 485 to in effect half the frictional contact 205, 225, and 280 of the rotating elements 190, 215, and 270 upon the surface 50, thus further enhancing the means 320 and 400 for urging each of the arms 130, 150, and 235 into a non turning mode 395. This is accomplished because any of the rotating elements 190, 215, and 270 contacting 205, 225, and 280 a surface 50 when turning tends to “scrub” the surface 50 adding frictional resistance to movement 145, 185, and 265 (i.e. having a dynamic coefficient of friction), thus by reducing the contact 205, 225, and 280 with the surface 50, the scrubbing effect of additional surface 50 friction is minimized as the rotating element's 190, 215, and 270 ability to more freely move in and out of the non-turning mode 395 is enhanced, thereby making the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 easier to turn and to return to the non-turning mode 395.
  • The distances 480 and 485 are made possible by the rotational element 190, 215, and 270 “canting” or having camber angle as a function of pivotal movement 145, 185, and 265 about the pivotal axis 135, 160, and 245 that is at an obtuse angle 175, 180, or 260 respectively to the surface 50, away from the non-turning mode 395, wherein in the non-turning mode 395 the distances 480 and 485 disappear going to zero as there is no camber angle, with no camber angle defined as the rotational axes 200, 220, and 275 being parallel to the surface 50 and having a camber angle being defined as having an acute angle as between the rotational axes 200, 220, and 275 related to the surface 50, i.e. a non-parallel relationship. So, as shown in FIG. 7, with the dual rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 rotationally connected 200, 220, and 275 to arms 130, 150, and 235 moving away from the non-turning mode 395 one of the rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 lifts off of the surface 50 by a distance 480 or 485 of being in the range of about one-sixteenth inch to one-half inch.
  • Optionally, on the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 to help further enervate the undesirable effect of the previously described oscillation or lateral flutter of the arms 130, 150, and 235 with rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 movement 145, 185, and 265 about the pivotal axes 135, 160, and 245 during movement 60 of the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus, or luggage apparatus 40 across the surface 50, can further include a means 355 or 360 for manual selectable substantial restriction of the pivotal movements 145, 185, or 265 about the pivotal axes 135, 160, and 245 as best shown in FIG. 6. The means 355 or 360 can preferably be in the form of a dampener 345 or 350 that will make movement 145, 185, or 265 slower and more fluid in action thus adding stability in reducing the omni-directional wandering 325, 330, or 340 and the above described oscillation or lateral flutter. The dampener 345 or 350 can take the form of a resilient element 460 that is axially compressed about a pivotal shaft 435 and/or 440 via an outside diameter threaded washer 441 that is adjacent to the resilient element 460, being selectively adjustable by varying the axial compression as against the resilient element 460 that in turn compresses the resilient element 460 against the pivotal shaft 435 and/or 440 via turning the threaded washer 441 to have more axial compression for more dampening or less axial compression for less dampening. Alternative methods structures could be used for means 355 or 360 having like functional results.
  • Also optionally, on the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40, to help secure a static state without movement 60 on the surface 50 of the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40, a means 365 or 370 can be added for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of the rotating elements 190, 215, and 270 rotational movement 201, 221, and 276. The preferred construction of the means 365 or 370 is best shown in FIG. 6, wherein a pad 470 would be urged to contact the rotational elements 190, 215, or 270 via a spring 465 to substantially restrict the rotational movement 201, 221, and 276, further a cable 475 could be used to manually remotely disengage the pad 470 from the rotational elements 190, 215, and 270 thus overcoming the spring 465 urging to allow rotational movement 201, 221, and 276. Other equivalents for the means 365 or 370 could be utilized for the same functional result.
  • It should be noted that the steerable apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage 40, initially calls for a plurality of rotating elements 190, 215, or 270 and in using just two rotating elements 190, 215, or 270 the aforementioned benefits of the obtuse angles 175, 180, and 260 with trail distances 415 and 420 can be realized, depending upon the angle 305 that the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 forms via the longitudinal axis 110 with the surface 50 as the obtuse angles 175, 180, and 260 will vary accordingly, with a larger obtuse angles 175, 180, and 260 lessening the trail distances 415 and 420 and its effects as previously described and smaller obtuse angles 175, 180, and 260 will increase the trail distances 415 and 420 moving toward a conventional prior art caster wheel arrangement also as previously described. Thus with three or more rotating elements 190, 215, or 270 the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 will work with fixed obtuse angles 175, 180, and 260 with trail distances 415 and 420 for the optimum control of the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 on the surface 50 to minimize the omnidirectional wandering 325, 330, or 340. Further, specifically on the luggage apparatus 40, the third obtuse angle 305 could be increased or decreased to such an extent that only the smaller 215 or the larger 270 rotating elements would contact 225 or 280 respectively the surface 50, wherein the above discussion of obtuse angles 180 and 260 would apply.
  • As a further optional enhancement to the steerable carriage apparatus 30, steerable apparatus 35, or luggage apparatus 40 to increase the means 320 for urging each arm 130, 150, or 235 into the non turning mode 395, as shown in FIG. 6, wherein the pivoting shafts 435 and 440 are received into receptacles 445 and 450 respectively, a coil type spring 455 can be added that circumferentially envelopes the shafts 435 and 440, wherein the spring 455 has one end affixed to the arms 130, 150, or 235 and the opposing end affixed to the first end portion 70, primary end portion 80, or proximal end portion 100, wherein the spring 455 will be operational to urge or bias the arms 130, 150, or 235 into the non turning mode 395, or a functional equivalent thereof.
  • Another embodiment of the present invention is in the form of a luggage apparatus 40, as shown in FIGS. 1 through 9, wherein the luggage apparatus 40 is for manually transporting a payload 55 across a surface 50, as best shown in FIGS. 4 and 9. The luggage apparatus 40 includes a base housing 95 that has a proximal end portion 100 and a distal end portion 105 wherein a longitudinal axis 110 spans therebetween the proximal end portion 100 and the distal end portion 105. The longitudinal axis 110 passing through a base housing 95 centroid 115, see FIGS. 3 and 4, the base housing 95 also includes a surrounding sidewall 120 that is about the longitudinal axis 110, wherein the surrounding sidewall 120 is disposed between the proximal end portion 100 and the distal end portion 105, wherein the proximal end portion 100, the distal end portion 105, and the surrounding sidewall 120 all act to define a base housing interior 125, see FIG. 4.
  • Further included in the luggage apparatus 40, in looking at particular at FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, is a plurality of smaller arms 150 each including a first pivotal attachment 155 to the proximal end portion 100, each first pivotal attachment 155 having a substantially co-planar 170 first pivotal axis 160 forming a first plane 165 that is at a first obtuse angle 180 in relation to the surface 50. Each first pivotal attachment 155 is operational to allow a first pivotal movement 185 about each first pivotal axis 160 of each smaller arm 150 in relation to the proximal end portion 100. Continuing in the luggage apparatus 40, a plurality of smaller rotating elements 215 each rotationally attached 220 to each of the smaller arms 150, each of the plurality of smaller rotating elements 215 forming a minor contact 225 on the surface 50, wherein each first obtuse angle 180 is adjacent 295 to each minor contact 225 on the surface 50, wherein each of the smaller rotating elements 215 is operational to be steerable 230.
  • Yet, again referencing FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, further included in the luggage apparatus 40 also is a plurality of larger arms 235 each including a second pivotal attachment 240 to the proximal end portion 100, with each second pivotal attachment 240 having a substantially co-planar 255 second pivotal axis 245 forming a second plane 250 that is at a second obtuse angle 260 in relation to the surface 50. Wherein the first plane 165 and the second plane 250 are substantially parallel to one another, see FIG. 8, each second pivotal attachment 240 is operational to allow a second pivotal movement 265 about each second pivotal axis 245 of each larger arm 235 in relation to the proximal end portion 100. Continuing, included in the luggage apparatus 40 is a plurality of larger rotating elements 270 each rotationally attached 275 to each of the larger arms 235, each of the plurality of larger rotating elements 270 forming a major contact 280 on the surface 50, wherein each second obtuse angle 260 is adjacent 300 to each major contact 280 on the surface 50, each of the larger rotating elements 270 is operational to be steerable 285.
  • Also, on the luggage apparatus 40, focusing specifically on FIGS. 3 through 7, the plurality of smaller arms 150, smaller rotating elements 215, larger arms 235, and larger rotating elements 270 are sized and configured such that the longitudinal axis 110 forms a third obtuse angle 305 in relation to the surface 50, wherein the third obtuse angle 305 is adjacent 310 to the plurality of larger rotating elements 270. The third obtuse angle 305 is preferably in the range of about ninety-five degrees to one-hundred and twenty degrees, wherein with the luggage apparatus 40 having the capability to be free standing upon the surface 50, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. The third obtuse angle 305 having several purposes, firstly as shown in FIG. 9 with the luggage apparatus 40 in use, the third obtuse angle 305 facilitates the use of the conventional pull handle grasped by the arm 505 by the user 500 pulled in forward movement 60. Secondly, the third obtuse angle 305 further facilitates the free standing nature of the luggage apparatus 40, by substantially centering the majority of the luggage apparatus 40 weight over the plurality of larger rotating elements 270 either with or without the removable 390 addition of the weight of auxiliary housing 335.
  • This further goes to the reason for distinguishing as between the larger rotating elements 270 and the smaller rotating elements 215, wherein the larger rotating element 270 has a longer trail distance 420 (as compared to the shorter trail distance 415) that equates to a larger second pivotal movement 265 force from the longer trail distance 420 that helps to overcome the higher surface 50 friction at the major contact 280 from the increased weight as previously described. Thus the more heavily loaded larger rotating element 270 has a stronger tendency or means for urging 400 the larger arm 235 (hence the larger rotating element 270) into the non-turning mode 395 than the smaller trail distance 415 or means for urging 400 the smaller arm 150 (hence the smaller rotating element 215) into the non-turning mode 395 via the smaller first pivotal movement 185 force. The preferred distance for the larger rotating element 270 trail distance 420 is about three-eighths of an inch, and the preferred distance for the smaller rotating element 215 trail distance 415 is about one-quarter of an inch. Further the larger rotating element 270 outside diameter is preferably about two and three-eighths inches and the smaller rotating element 215 outside diameter is preferably about two inches.
  • Looking at particular at FIGS. 3 and 4 for the luggage apparatus 40 as an option to better distribute the total weight of the luggage apparatus 40 substantially upon the larger rotating elements 270 according for the reasons previously described, the luggage apparatus 40 could further comprise a mass 375 disposed within the base housing 95 interior 125, as shown in FIG. 4. Noting that the luggage apparatus 40 can optionally further comprise an auxiliary housing 335 that is sized and configured to be removably engagable 390 to the base housing 95, wherein the auxiliary housing 335 is positioned adjacent to the second plane 250, such that a combination of the base housing 95 and auxiliary housing 335 are free standing on the surface 50, as shown in FIG. 3. The auxiliary housing 335 can be a briefcase, laptop bag, or similar appendage, (comprising a portion of the payload 55) that when attached to the base housing 95 (that typically has clothing and toiletries as a part of the payload 55) can form a “carry-on” bag combination of the auxiliary housing 335 and the base housing 95, thus avoiding checking in at the airport for instance of any luggage for the user 500. The other purpose is to have the luggage apparatus 40 be secure and stable upon the surface 50 with or without the auxiliary housing, this avoiding the prior art problem of an ad-hoc strapping on of the briefcase for instance to the larger wheeled piece of luggage, with the briefcase sliding around to one side or another, causing the larger wheeled piece of luggage to be unstable or fall to the side on the surface. Thus the concept of the third obtuse angle 305 and the mass 375 are to counteract these problems.
  • Wherein the mass 375 is oriented to displace the base housing 95 centroid 115 toward the second plane 250 a selected distance, being the hypotenuse of dimension 381 and dimension 382 resulting in the composite centroid 117, such that the base housing 95 is free standing on the surface 50 while at the third obtuse angle 305, as shown in FIG. 3. Also in looking at FIG. 4, without the auxiliary housing 335, the mass 375 will shift the centroid 115 to centroid 116 a distance of 380 to further promote surface stability of the luggage apparatus 40 upon the surface 50. Although it is difficult to predict with certainty the weight of the auxiliary housing 335 with its payload 55 and the base housing 95 with its payload 55 for the purpose of accurately determining the weight of the mass 375, so the weight of the mass 375 has a preferred weight of about three pounds, however, the weight of mass 375 could be more or less depending upon the payload 55 weight.
  • Conclusion
  • Accordingly, the present invention of a steerable carriage apparatus has been described with some degree of particularity directed to the embodiments of the present invention. It should be appreciated, though; that the present invention is defined by the following claims construed in light of the prior art so modifications or changes may be made to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention without departing from the inventive concepts contained therein.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A steerable carriage apparatus for manually transporting a payload across a surface, comprising:
    (a) a frame including a frame first end portion and a frame second end portion;
    (b) a plurality of arms each including a pivotal attachment to said frame first end portion, each said pivotal attachment having a pivotal axis that is at an obtuse angle in relation to the surface, each said pivotal attachment is operational to allow a pivotal movement about each said pivotal axis of each said arm in relation to said frame first end portion; and
    (c) a plurality of first rotating elements each rotationally attached to each of said arms, each of said plurality of first rotating elements forming a contact on the surface, wherein each said obtuse angle is adjacent to each said contact on the surface, each of said first rotating elements is operational to be steerable.
  2. 2. A steerable carriage apparatus according to claim 1 further including a means for urging each said arm into a non turning mode through said pivotal movement that is operational to prevent inadvertent omnidirectional wandering movement of said frame across the surface.
  3. 3. A steerable carriage apparatus according to claim 1 further including a dampener, wherein said dampener is operational to dampen each said pivotal movement.
  4. 4. A steerable apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said plurality of first rotating elements includes at least three first rotating elements each rotationally attached to at least each one of three arms, wherein each of said at least three first rotating elements simultaneously each form a contact on the surface.
  5. 5. A steerable carriage apparatus according to claim 1 further including a means for manual selectable substantial restriction of each said pivotal movement.
  6. 6. A steerable carriage apparatus according to claim 1 further including a means for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of a first rotating element rotational movement.
  7. 7. A steerable apparatus adapted to attach to a carriage for manually transporting a payload across a surface, comprising:
    (a) a structure including a structure primary end portion and a structure secondary end portion that is adapted to attach to the carriage;
    (b) a plurality of arms each including a pivotal attachment to said structure primary end portion, each said pivotal attachment having a pivotal axis that is at an obtuse angle in relation to the surface, each said pivotal attachment is operational to allow a pivotal movement about each said pivotal axis of each said arm in relation to said structure primary end portion; and
    (c) a plurality of first rotating elements each rotationally attached to each of said arms, each of said plurality of first rotating elements forming a contact on the surface, wherein each said obtuse angle is adjacent to each said contact on the surface, each of said first rotating elements is operational to be steerable.
  8. 8. A steerable apparatus according to claim 7 further including a means for urging each said arm into a non turning mode through said pivotal movement that is operational to prevent inadvertent omnidirectional wandering movement of said structure and carriage across the surface.
  9. 9. A steerable apparatus according to claim 7 further including a dampener, wherein said dampener is operational to dampen each said pivotal movement.
  10. 10. A steerable apparatus according to claim 7 wherein said plurality of first rotating elements includes at least three first rotating elements each rotationally attached to at least each one of three arms, wherein each of said at least three first rotating elements simultaneously each form a contact on the surface.
  11. 11. A steerable apparatus according to claim 7 further including a means for manual selectable substantial restriction of each said pivotal movement.
  12. 12. A steerable apparatus according to claim 7 further including a means for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of a first rotating element rotational movement.
  13. 13. A luggage apparatus for manually transporting a payload across a surface, comprising:
    (a) a base housing that includes a proximal end portion and a distal end portion wherein a longitudinal axis spans therebetween said proximal end portion and said distal end portion, said longitudinal axis passing through a base housing centroid, said base housing also includes a surrounding sidewall that is about said longitudinal axis, wherein said surrounding sidewall is disposed between said proximal end portion and said distal end portion, wherein said proximal end portion, said distal end portion, and said surrounding sidewall all act to define a base housing interior;
    (b) a plurality of smaller arms each including a first pivotal attachment to said proximal end portion, each said first pivotal attachment having a substantially co-planar first pivotal axis forming a first plane that is at a first obtuse angle in relation to the surface, each said first pivotal attachment is operational to allow a first pivotal movement about each said first pivotal axis of each said smaller arm in relation to said proximal end portion;
    (c) a plurality of smaller rotating elements each rotationally attached to each of said smaller arms, each of said plurality of smaller rotating elements forming a minor contact on the surface, wherein each said first obtuse angle is adjacent to each said minor contact on the surface, each of said smaller rotating elements is operational to be steerable;
    (d) a plurality of larger arms each including a second pivotal attachment to said proximal end portion, each said second pivotal attachment having a substantially co-planar second pivotal axis forming a second plane that is at a second obtuse angle in relation to the surface, wherein said first plane and said second plane are substantially parallel to one another, each said second pivotal attachment is operational to allow a second pivotal movement about each said second pivotal axis of each said larger arm in relation to said proximal end portion; and
    (e) a plurality of larger rotating elements each rotationally attached to each of said larger arms, each of said plurality of larger rotating elements forming a major contact on the surface, wherein each said second obtuse angle is adjacent to each said major contact on the surface, each of said larger rotating elements is operational to be steerable.
  14. 14. A luggage apparatus according to claim 13 wherein said plurality of smaller arms, smaller rotating elements, larger arms, and larger rotating elements are sized and configured such that said longitudinal axis forms a third obtuse angle in relation to the surface, wherein said third obtuse angle is adjacent to said plurality of larger rotating elements.
  15. 15. A luggage apparatus according to claim 14 further comprising a mass disposed within said base housing interior, wherein said mass is oriented to displace said base housing centroid toward said second plane a selected distance such that said base housing is free standing on the surface while at said third obtuse angle.
  16. 16. A luggage apparatus according to claim 15 further comprising an auxiliary housing that is sized and configured to be removably engagable to said base housing, wherein said auxiliary housing is positioned adjacent to said second plane, such that a combination of said base housing and said auxiliary housing are free standing on the surface.
  17. 17. A luggage apparatus according to claim 16 further including a means for urging each said plurality of smaller arms and said plurality of larger arms into a non turning mode through said first and second pivotal movements that are operational to prevent inadvertent omnidirectional wandering movement of said combination of said base housing and said auxiliary housing across the surface.
  18. 18. A luggage apparatus according to claim 17 further including a dampener, wherein said dampener is operational to dampen each said first and second pivotal movements.
  19. 19. A luggage apparatus according to claim 17 further including a means for manual selectable substantial restriction of each said first and second pivotal movements.
  20. 20. A luggage apparatus according to claim 17 further including a means for an automatic conditional substantial restriction of a smaller rotating element or a larger rotating from rotational movement.
US12687130 2010-01-14 2010-01-14 Steerable Carriage Apparatus Abandoned US20110168507A1 (en)

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