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GM Trucks And SUVs Could Soon Have Inflatable & Deployable Ramps

Key Takeaways

  • GM patent showcases deployable ramp for truck & SUV applications.
  • Ramp stored in compartment, deploys automatically supported by inflatable arms for rigidity.
  • Possible uses beyond cargo loading include shade, table, and structure building.

CarBuzz has discovered a new patent filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office detailing designs for a deployable ramp developed by the R&D division of General Motors. The idea focuses on the basic construction of a roll-out ramp that can deploy from either the tailgate of a truck like the Chevrolet Silverado or the base of a sliding side door of an SUV like the Suburban.

The idea has potential benefits for those loading cargo into truck beds and vans but could also be used to enable easier ingress for disabled individuals confined to wheelchairs. Beyond this, the basic idea behind this patent has other possible applications, but we’ll get to those ideas once we’ve discussed how the deployable panel would work.

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GM Deployable Ramp Design

The rolled-up ramp would be stored in a small compartment at the end of a truck’s tailgate or the bottom of an SUV or van’s sliding door when not in use, keeping it out of the way but easily accessible. A similar motivation lies behind a recent Ford patent for deployable roof racks. While a regular ramp would need to be stored elsewhere and manually fitted to the truck, van, or SUV when needed, this roll-up ramp would be permanently attached to the vehicle and would deploy automatically. Presumably, the reverse process would also be an automatic exercise.

To do this and to ensure the ramp can support the loads required, the patent describes “rigidizing elements” (support arms) that run along the length of the deployed ramp. These would also need to fold, so they would be made of an inflatable bladder. When injected with an unspecified fluid, these elements become rigid. Withdrawing this fluid would make it possible to fold the ramp again. The patent doesn’t go into much more detail, but in a nutshell, the ramp rolls up into a neat compartment when stowed and is deployed and supported by inflatable arms designed to maintain the structural rigidity of the ramp.

“Multiple rigidizing elements and connectors are bulky and easily lost, making construction difficult if not impossible. Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a deployable panel with rigidizing elements that may provide structural support without the need for complicated connection schemes and multiple components.”

– GM Global Technology Operations.

Multiple Potential Benefits For GM’s Patented Ramp

The patent was written with the deployable ramp as its focus, but it also calls attention to other possible applications, noting that similar principles could be applied to provide shade or to create temporary tables. Room dividers are also mentioned, which suggests that this sort of tech could be used for easy construction of tents. These ideas would require slightly more complex components, but the basic elements would be the same: stowable inflatable supports can create a structure for various applications and remain out of sight when not in use. GM already has great truck-focused ideas like the Multi-Flex tailgate, but there’s always room for further improvement, and if this tech can be constructed in a sturdy and cost-effective manner, it could someday make loading much easier.

Patent filings do not guarantee the use of such technology in future vehicles and are often used exclusively as a means of protecting intellectual property. Such a filing cannot be construed as production intent.

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#Trucks #SUVs #Inflatable #Deployable #Ramps

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