Toyota Files Patent For An Inflatable “Air Bladder” Truck Bed Cover to Secure Cargo
When securing cargo down in the bed of a pickup truck, typically owners will use tie-down straps and bungee chords to hold everything in place. But when it comes to stabilizing cargo, they can’t always get the job done. However, a potential “air bladder” could be a feature in future Toyota trucks to prevent items from moving around while the vehicle is in motion.
What is an “Air Bladder” and How Would it Work?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released the patent to the public on January 2nd, 2024, and it was originally filed on June 8th, 2022. In the document, Toyota details its use of an air bladder located on the underside of a bed cover or tonneau cover to safely secure items in the truck. Through the use of an air compressor housed between the inside and outside walls of the bed, the air bladder would inflate and take up the negative space between objects to prevent them from shifting and vibrating.
As mentioned in the patent, “The bladder can be inflated while attached to the bed cover to extend down into a truck bed. The bladder can be used as a cargo stabilizer by impinging on the cargo and limiting the ability of the cargo to move around in the truck bed.”
Even though the focus on an air stabilizer is mainly on pickup trucks, Toyota mentions that this same application can be used in SUVs and other vehicles with large cargo areas. As a result, objects like construction equipment, luggage, furniture, etc., would remain safely secured without the use of any straps or chords.
There have been several other patents filed by automakers when looking for ways customers can take advantage of their trucks’ beds. Ford filed a patent that would feature built-in fold-out seats in the beds of its line of trucks. Ford also filed a patent for a reconfigurable tonneau cover by Ford that would give users freedom to shape it in any way they wanted for whatever purpose, including protecting cargo in the bed, to improving aerodynamics.