Auto manufacturers file patents for various ideas every single day, and sometimes, you come across one that's actually interesting. It seems Toyota is thinking inside the box on this one.
Patent number US 11,858,408 B1 was originally filed back in June 2022 but published early this year. In essence, it's an air mattress stuck to the bottom of a pickup bed cover. Flip a switch and it inflates downward into the bed, pushing into and surrounding otherwise loose items, holding them neatly in place until you flip another switch to deflate it. Or until a sharp corner of the steel shelves you're hauling punctures the bladder. Presumably, Toyota assumes this wouldn't be used with items that have the potential to rip through plastic, vinyl, fabric, or whatever this big air bladder is made of.
As you might expect, it's inflated with an air compressor installed in the bed between the inner wall and outer sheet metal. The patent description says it could be hooked into the truck's computer brain, monitoring pressure on the bladder (or bladders) to keep things secure.
It does seem like a novel way to keep the groceries or that cool set of used golf clubs you scored at a garage sale from skidding around the bed while driving home. Toyota specifically uses the term "air mattress" in the patent's description. In fact, it's referenced as being used for camping, be it on the ground or in the bed of the truck.
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It's an intriguing idea, but is it a practical one? Offering a bed cover that inflates to become an air mattress is a neat idea for camping, but we wonder if the whole cargo-securing aspect was an afterthought that someone decided to patent. We're reminded of how many leaking inflatable mattresses we've thrown out at home after using them just to sleep, never mind holding the kids' bikes in place while on vacation.
What is your take on this idea? Jump into the comments and let us know.