U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
- A pair of patent applications filed by Ford with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office appear to involve features for the upcoming Bronco’s roof.
- The first patent is for a removable roof structure that gets rid of the B-, C-, and D-pillars as well as roof rails and crossbeams, providing a true open-air experience.
- The second patent is for roof-rail-mounted airbags that can be repacked to retain driver visibility after an accident.
Trust us: We’re just as sick and tired of having to wait for the upcoming Ford Bronco as you are. It seems like at least once a week, we find out a new detail or see more spy shots of the highly anticipated SUV that will soon be revealed by Ford. This week is just like any other in that regard, because we found two more patents that seem like they belong on the Bronco.
Both patents have to do with a removable roof, which will be a key feature of the new Bronco. The first patent covers a single-piece removable roof structure that includes the upper portions of of the B-, C-, and D-pillars. With this design, a portion of the upper B-pillar would slide into the permanent lower B-pillar. It’s unclear if this structure permanently carries the roof and upper body panels, or if those panels would be removed separately. We also don’t know if this frame is the only rollover protection, or if it requires a secondary roll-cage-like structure similar to the Jeep Wrangler’s. The patent does claim that structural rigidity of the vehicle is minimally affected by this roof design, which makes sense for a body-on-frame vehicle like the Bronco.
The second patent is for side curtain airbags that can be repacked after deployment. In the text of the patent, Ford notes that side curtain airbags can obstruct the driver’s view after firing, which could be a problem in an off-road environment or isolated area in which emergency assistance is not readily available. The idea is that once the airbags are deployed, they could be manually put back into the cover, and the driver could maneuver the vehicle to a spot where emergency vehicles could assist.
The airbag covers are hinged strategically to open in a manner that doesn’t damage them in the event of an airbag deployment. Ford also wanted the covers to be weatherproof, so the patent calls for them to be constructed out of a durable material like polypropylene. Since the Bronco will have removable doors, these roof-rail-mounted airbags will not only protect occupants from impacts, but also help keep their limbs inside the vehicle.
The two Ford patents received approval in the past week. We’ll know if they make it into the production Bronco when the truck is unveiled this spring.