When it comes to the movie-industry’s biggest award night, the scientific and technical prizes are relegated to a separate, untelevised event that lacks the ritz and thrill of the main attraction. But it’s just the opposite when it comes to awarding technical innovation within the Chrysler Group. Believing genius doesn’t fall far from the tree, each year the Chrysler Group recognizes employee inventions patented during the year in the form of the Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award.
Finalists for the Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award are selected by the Chrysler Group Patent Review Committee, which evaluates each patent issued during the year. Then each voting member ranks the finalists. The Corporate Intellectual Property Office counts the votes and makes the final cut.
The Chrysler Group has presented patent awards since the early 1980s and the Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award has at its core the search for products and ideas that continue to give the Chrysler Group its competitive edge in all aspects of technology and business. Inventions that will improve quality, eliminate waste, reduce costs and speed up development are key to the selection process. Past Chrysler Group innovations have included four-wheel hydraulic brakes, electric window controls and electronic fuel injection. And a little something called the HEMI(R), now with Multi-Displacement System (MDS). Last year’s winner was a patent for the Evaporative Emissions System Integrity Module (ESIM), a simple design but with big cost-savings.
First place for the 2005 Walter P. Chrysler Technology Award was given to Louis A. Rhodes, Douglas J. Quigley, Joseph L. Salani, Carl Mather, John V. Keane, David J. Ewers and Robert W. Feldmaier for U.S. Patent No. 6,955,386, issued October 18, 2005 and titled “Underfloor Stowage of a Folding Seat in a Vehicle” — better known as a Stow ‘n Go(R) system — which allows a seat to be folded and put away, creating a completely flat floor surface.
Second place was awarded to Zhijian James Wu, Jyh-Laing Lin, Dean Marshall, Brad Schoeff, Mike Trumbo, John G. Hatfield, James Karlet and Yijun Tu for U.S. Patent No. 6,902,319, issued June 7, 2005, titled “Vehicular Battery Temperature Estimation.” It focuses on software within the engine controller that already measures coolant and ambient temperatures, as well as vehicle and engine speeds, to estimate the internal temperature of the battery at any given time, eliminating sensing hardware.
U.S. Patent No. 6,898,929, issued May 31, 2005 and titled “Method and Apparatus for Supplying a Reductant to an Engine Exhaust Treatment System” by Thomas W. Asmus nabbed third place. The goal behind this is for complying with the stricter emissions standards coming in 2007. Focus is on regeneration of an NOx absorber or trap via a mixture of diesel fuel and methanol or ethanol, resulting in vaporization of some of the alcohol in the fuel. Using the diesel fuel alone for the process can cause higher exhaust temperatures and extra fuel in the exhaust.
Sean A. Bannon, inventor of U.S. Patent No. 6,916,044 issued July 12, 2005 for the “Steering Column/Airbag Tunable Impact Absorption System” was awarded fourth place. This functions as an active steering column that allows for real-time tuning of the column’s energy absorption based on sensed factors, such as driver size and position or the type of impact.
Honorable mentions were given to David J. Pietras, Nabil M. Issa and Majeed Kadi for their “Route Storage and Retrieval for a Vehicle Navigation System,” U.S. Patent No. 6,847,891, issued January 25, 2005 (the ability to record a route not in the system, such as a newly constructed street or off- road trail) and Mark S. Hannon and James R. Klotz for their “Internal Combustion Engine Having Three Valves per Cylinder,” U.S. Patent No. 6,895,925, issued May 24, 2005 (three-valve setup for pushrod-style engines).