Off the Rails: Ford's Idea for a Roof Mounted Chair for the Bronco
I check out Ford's patent filings every once in a while on the USPTO's (United States Patent and Trademark Office) website to see what the Ford engineers have come up with. It's safe to say that Ford files dozens of patent applications every year with the USPTO.
It's pretty cool to see the innovative ideas that the company is exploring, and how they are using technology to improve vehicle safety, performance, and user experience. Along those lines, here's an application I just stumbled across - "Roof Chair Systems for Motor Vehicles with Removal Roof Panels (Publication No. 20220089067)" published March 24, 2022.
It's obvious from the included illustrations that this idea is meant for the new Bronco. But just to be clear, this isn't a rooftop seat to drive your Bronco from, just a place to lounge.
From Ford's application:
"This disclosure details exemplary roof chair systems for vehicles equipped with removable roof panels. A mounting assembly of a roof chair system may be mounted to a roof rail after removing the removable roof panels. The roof chair system may be secured to the roof rail using the same openings used to secure the removable roof panels to the roof rail. The roof chair system may include various accessory features, such as lighting, speakers, chargers, heated seats, etc., for providing an enhanced user experience. The roof chair systems may be integrated with vehicle charging and lighting systems for providing a vehicle integrated accessory system."
Did you get that? Basically, Ford wants to mount seats onto the roof rails of a Bronco using the same holes that the roof panels use. This "roof chair system" might incorporate features like lights, speakers, chargers, and heated seats.
The application continues:
"The vehicle owner/user may desire to leverage the space afforded by the roof after removing the roof panels, such as when using the vehicle as a social gathering spot during outdoor activities (e.g., camping, tailgating, etc.)...Each arm of the seat may also be equipped with one or more illuminated cupholders. The illuminated cupholders are configured to receive and hold a beverage container of the user..."
"A canopy may be utilized in conjunction with the roof chair system for providing protection from the sun, rain, or other outdoor elements. The canopy may include poles that can be positioned within the openings formed in the top surfaces of the first roof rail and the second roof rail. The canopy may include one or more light sources, such as LEDs, for providing additional functional/decorative lighting effects individually of or in combination with the light sources of the roof chair system."
Translation into normal speak:
"Bronco owners might want to hang out and drink beer and sit on the roof of their Bronco under a tent. They might also want some fancy lights."
It's obvious that Ford knows its target market. But then again, maybe not. The one thing I didn't see in the application was a sensor in the seats that locks the vehicle in park if someone is sitting on the roof.