Patent Number: 6,253,143

Title: Safety limiter for powered vehicles

Abstract: A vehicle control unit is disclosed which can be coupled between a tachometer sensor and an electronic ignition system on a vehicle. The unit is also coupled to a speedometer sensor to measure the vehicle's speed. The vehicle control unit limits the vehicle speed by modifying the tachometer signal from the tachometer sensor and providing the modified tachometer signal to the ignition system. The tachometer signal is a pulse train which is used by the electronic ignition system to determine ignition timing. The vehicle control unit limits both ground speed and engine speed by suppressing pulses from the original tachometer signal to prevent the combustion of fuel and thereby reduce engine power when the ground or engine speeds exceed predetermined limits. The vehicle control unit is microcontroller-based and preferably includes a logging function and an acceleration sensor. The microcontroller is coupled to the acceleration sensor to detect the peak accelerations experienced by the vehicle. The microcontroller stores peak accelerations above a predetermined limit, along with excessive ground and engine speeds, as part of a fault record a nonvolatile memory. The records can be examined by management personnel to identify reckless vehicle operators. Corrective action can then be taken to protect personnel and equipment. A handheld programming unit is also disclosed herein for programming the predetermined limits and for retrieving fault records. The programming unit can display and summarize fault records, and can be used to transport the fault information to a central computer system for archiving and more extensive analysis.

Inventors: Silvernagle; Darin (Airdrie, CA), Lafont; Don (Calgary, CA)

Assignee: Veritas DGC, Inc.

International Classification: B60K 31/02 (20060101); B60K 31/04 (20060101); F02P 9/00 (20060101); F02P 5/15 (20060101); B60T 008/32 (); G06F 007/00 ()

Expiration Date: 06/26/2018