Microcom | 326M | Vehicle drive system controller

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US 20040107031A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2004/0107031 A1
Ichikawa et al.
(43) Pub. Date:
(54) VEHICLE DRIVE SYSTEM CONTROLLER
(30)
Jun. 3, 2004
Foreign Application Priority Data
Nov. 28, 2002
(75) Inventors: Takashi Ichikawa, Aichi (JP);
Terumasa Suyama, Aichi (JP)
(JP) .................................... .. 2002-344979
Publication Classi?cation
(51)
Int. Cl.7 ................................................... .. G06F 19/00
Correspondence Address:
(52)
US. Cl. ......................................... .. 701/36; 340/4261
CROMPTON, SEAGER & TUFTE, LLC
(57)
1221 NICOLLET AVENUE
SUITE 800
MINNEAPOLIS, MN 554034420 (Us)
(73) Assignee; Kabushiki Kaisha Tokai Rika Denki
Seisakusho
ABSTRACT
Adrive system controller that improves the level of security
for a vehicle. A main microcomputer activates an image
recognizer When Wireless communication is established With
a portable device. The image recognizer images a vehicle
occupant to generate image data and uses the image data to
verify Whether the vehicle occupant is an authorized user.
The main microcomputer enables the starting of the engine
When Wireless communication With the portable device is
(21) Appl, No;
10/723,006
(22)
Nov. 26, 2003
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occupant is an authorized user.
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Switch
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ID, Code
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 3, 2004 Sheet 1 0f 6
US 2004/0107031 A1
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 3, 2004 Sheet 2 0f 6
US 2004/0107031 A1
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 3, 2004 Sheet 4 0f 6
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 3, 2004 Sheet 5 0f 6
US 2004/0107031 A1
Fig.6
Regular mode
Engine stopped.
Operate engine switchNSil
door locked, and
~51
ID codes not matched in
passenger compartment
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Illuminate
J,
instrument panel
N812
Transmit request signal
out of vehicle
N52-
ID Code
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ID Code
slgnal
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5
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switch functional N813
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Unlock doors
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in passenger compartment?”S6
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and closed
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817
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Verify ID code
87
in passenger compartment
User recognition
88
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Drive cover
drive circuit
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N318
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out of vehicle
ID code signal
received
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Lock doors
Cb
N822
Patent Application Publication
Jun. 3, 2004 Sheet 6 0f 6
US 2004/0107031 A1
Fig.7
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door locked, and
N831
ID codes not matched
‘
in passenger compartment
g
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Transmit request
Illuminate
signal out of vehicle N832
instrument panel
ID code not received N833
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Unlock door' with
position
mecharical key
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.
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Open door
N542
N843
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transponder‘ Code
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N538
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drive circuit
@548
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circuit to expoge
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N839
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mechanical key
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N843
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Jun. 3, 2004
US 2004/0107031 A1
VEHICLE DRIVE SYSTEM CONTROLLER
user, and enabling starting of the engine When the vehicle
occupant is veri?ed as the authoriZed user.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0001] The present invention relates to a method for
improving the level of security in a vehicle, and more
particularly, to a controller for controlling the starting and
stopping of an engine.
[0008]
Afurther aspect of the present invention is a system
for controlling an engine of a vehicle having a passenger
compartment. The system includes an authoriZed key
capable of Wireless communication. A key receiver is
arranged in the passenger compartment of the vehicle to
receive the authoriZed key. A recogniZer is arranged in the
passenger compartment to image a vehicle occupant and
[0002] A conventional vehicle key is inserted in a key
cylinder, Which is arranged on a steering column. A driver
turns the vehicle key and moves the key cylinder betWeen
functional positions to start and stop the engine. HoWever, in
such prior art mechanical key systems, the engine may be
started or stopped by using a copied key or by picking the
lock of the key cylinder. Accordingly, there is a demand for
communication circuit performs Wireless communication
With the authoriZed key. A microcomputer is connected to
the recogniZer and the communication circuit. The micro
computer activates the recogniZer When Wireless communi
cation is established betWeen the authoriZed key and the
a device that improves the security level of a vehicle.
communication circuit, enables starting of the engine When
[0003] Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication Nos. 2001
the recogniZer veri?es that the vehicle occupant is an
authoriZed user, and disables starting of the engine When
Wireless communication is not established betWeen the
authoriZed key and the communication circuit unless a
289142 and 2001-311333 describe an engine drive control
system that performs electronic veri?cation to enable the
starting of the engine. This improves the security level of the
vehicle. The engine drive control system includes a portable
device, Which is provided With a communication function,
and an engine drive controller, Which is installed in the
vehicle. The starting of the engine is enabled under the
condition that communication is properly established
betWeen the portable device and the engine drive controller.
When an engine starting sWitch is operated to start the
engine, the engine must be in the state in Which starting is
verify Whether a vehicle occupant is an authoriZed user. A
predetermined condition is satis?ed.
[0009] Other aspects and advantages of the present inven
tion Will become apparent from the folloWing description,
taken in conjunction With the accompanying draWings,
illustrating by Way of eXample the principles of the inven
tion.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
enabled. This prevents a third person, Who is not carrying the
portable device, from starting the engine. This also simpli
[0010] The invention, together With objects and advan
?es the operations for starting the engine since the engine
may be started just by operating the engine starting sWitch.
tages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the
folloWing description of the presently preferred embodi
ments together With the accompanying draWings in Which:
[0004] HoWever, in such an engine control system, anyone
carrying the portable device may start the engine. Thus,
When the driver loses the portable device and a third person
?nds the portable device, the third person Would be able to
start the engine.
[0011]
and a key holder according to a preferred embodiment of the
present invention;
[0012]
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 1 is a perspective vieW shoWing a passenger
compartment including a drive system operation apparatus
FIG. 2 is a front vieW shoWing the drive system
operation apparatus of FIG. 1;
[0005] Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention
to provide a vehicle controller that improves the security
[0013] FIGS. 3A and 3B are perspective vieWs shoWing
the drive system operation apparatus of FIG. 1;
level of a vehicle.
[0006] To achieve the above object, the present invention
[0014] FIGS. 4A and 4B are perspective vieWs shoWing
the key holder of FIG. 1;
provides a controller of a vehicle having an engine for use
With an authoriZed key having a communication function.
[0015] FIG. 5 is a block diagram shoWing a vehicle drive
control system according to a preferred embodiment of the
The controller includes a microcomputer for controlling the
engine. The microcomputer is capable of communicating
With the authoriZed key. A recogniZer is activated When
predetermined conditions, including establishment of com
munication betWeen the microcomputer and the authoriZed
key, are satis?ed to verify Whether a vehicle occupant is an
authoriZed user. The microcomputer enables the starting of
the engine When communication is established With the
authoriZed key and the recogniZer veri?es the vehicle occu
pant as being the authoriZed user.
[0007] Another aspect of the present invention is a method
for controlling a vehicle having an engine and a door. The
method includes transmitting a request signal to a predeter
mined area de?ned around the vehicle, unlocking the door
When receiving a response signal in response to the request
signal, verifying Whether a vehicle occupant is an authoriZed
present invention;
[0016]
FIG. 6 is a ?oWchart for a regular mode; and
[0017]
FIG. 7 is a ?oWchart for an irregular mode.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
[0018] A drive system operation apparatus 3 according to
a preferred embodiment of the present invention Will noW be
discussed.
[0019] As shoWn in FIG. 1, an instrument panel 2, Which
is arranged in a passenger compartment of a vehicle 1,
includes a vehicle drive system operation apparatus 3 and a
key veri?cation unit 4, Which receives an authoriZed key, or
a portable device 5 (refer to FIG. 5). It is preferred that the
Jun. 3, 2004
US 2004/0107031 A1
drive system operation apparatus 3 and the key veri?cation
operate the operation board 11 When the operation board
unit 4 be arranged betWeen the driver seat and the passenger
cover 12 is located at the closed position. When predeter
seat.
mined conditions are satis?ed, the cover drive circuit 13
moves and opens the operation board cover 12 in the
direction indicated by the arroWs F1. As shoWn in the states
[0020] With reference to FIGS. 2, 3A, 3B, and 5, the drive
system operation apparatus 3 includes an operation board
11, a shutter, or a movable operation board cover 12, and a
cover drive circuit 13. The operation board 11 has an
external surface facing toWards the driver, and includes a
gearshift operator 14, an engine operator, or engine sWitch
15 for starting and stopping the engine, and a range indicator
16. The gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15 are
located near each other.
[0021] The gearshift operator 14 includes a parking sWitch
14a and a gearshift sWitch 14b. It is preferred that the
parking sWitch 14a be a momentary type push button sWitch.
Further, it is preferred that the gearshift sWitch 14b be a lever
sWitch that is normally located at a neutral position, moved
to an upWard position or doWnWard position from the neutral
position, and returned to the neutral position from the
upWard or doWnWard position. The driver operates the
parking sWitch 14a or the gearshift sWitch 14b to sWitch the
of FIGS. 2 and 3B, the operation board cover 12 is retained
in a retaining space 17 located above the operation board 11.
This exposes the operation board 11. When the operation
board cover 12 is located at this opened position, the driver
may operate the operation board 11. The operation board
cover 12 returns to the closed position from the opened
position When predetermined conditions are satis?ed.
[0026] With reference to FIGS. 1, 3A, 3B, and 4, the key
veri?cation unit 4 is located under the drive system opera
tion apparatus 3. As shoWn in FIG. 4B, the key veri?cation
unit 4 includes a holder 21 for receiving the authoriZed key
(portable device) 5, and a movable key cover 22, Which
functions as a shutter for the holder 21.
transmission betWeen gearshift ranges (gearshift ranges P, R,
N, and D). For example, When the parking sWitch 14a is
[0027] The holder 21 is movable betWeen a position in
Which it is accommodated in the instrument panel 2 as
shoWn in the state of FIG. 4A and a position in Which it is
projected from the instrument panel 2 as shoWn in the state
of FIG. 4B. Referring to FIG. 4B, the holder 21 includes a
operated, the gearshift range of the transmission shifts to the
parking (P) range. When the gearshift sWitch 14b is oper
key receiver 02141, which has a key slot 21b. The portable
device 5 is inserted in the key slot 21b. The portable device
ated, the gearshift range of the transmission is shifted to one
of the P range, the reverse (R) range, the neutral (N) range,
5 is, for example, card-like shaped.
and the drive (D) range. More speci?cally, if the parking
sWitch 14a is operated When the vehicle velocity is Zero and
the engine is running, the transmission shifts to the P range
regardless of Which one of the R, N, and D ranges the
transmission is in. When the gearshift sWitch 14b is pushed
doWnWard, the gearshift range is shifted in a sequential
manner in the order of the P range, R range, N range, and D
range. When the gearshift range is pushed upWard, the
[0028]
As shoWn in the state of FIG. 4A, the key cover 22
covers the holder 21 When the holder 21 is accommodated
in the instrument panel 2. The key cover 22 is moved to
expose the key receiver 21a When the holder 21 is projected
from the instrument panel 2, as shoWn in the state of FIG.
4B. In the preferred embodiment, the key cover 22 may be
manually moved. More speci?cally, in the state of FIG. 4A,
the key cover 22 is pushed toWard the instrument panel 2 in
the direction indicated by arroW F2. This opens the key
gearshift range is shifted in a sequential manner in the order
of the D range, N range, R range, and P range. Shifting from
the R range to the P range is enabled only When the vehicle
velocity is Zero.
projects from the instrument panel 2. In the state of FIG. 4B,
the key cover 22 is pushed toWard the instrument panel 2.
[0022] A light emitting device, such as an LED, is
accommodates the holder 21 in the instrument panel 2.
arranged in the parking sWitch 14a. The light emitting
[0029] Referring to FIG. 5, the holder 21 includes a key
controller 23, Which controls the retraction and projection of
device is illuminated When the transmission is in the P range
to highlight the sWitch 14a.
[0023]
Referring to FIG. 2, the letters R, N, and D are
marked on the surface of the range indicator 16. A light
emitting device, such as an LED, is arranged next to each
letter. When the transmission is in the R range, the N range,
or the D range, the light emitting device corresponding to the
present gearshift range is illuminated to indicate the present
gearshift range. The light emitting device may also illumi
nate the corresponding letter.
[0024] A further light emitting device is arranged in the
engine sWitch 15. The engine sWitch 15 is preferably a
momentary type push button sWitch. The engine sWitch 15
is operated under predetermined conditions to start and stop
the engine and to perform shifting betWeen functional posi
tions for an electric system of the vehicle.
[0025]
The operation board cover 12 covers and exposes
the operation board 11. As shoWn in FIG. 3A, the operation
board cover 12 is normally arranged at a closed position
Where it covers the operation board 11. The driver cannot
cover 22 to expose the key receiver 21a as the holder 21
This moves the key cover 22 to close the holder 21 and
the holder 21, a key sensor 24, a cover sensor 25, and a
moving mechanism 26, Which moves the holder 21. The key
sensor 24 detects Whether or not the portable device 5 is
inserted in the key receiver 21a. The cover sensor 25 detects
Whether the key cover 22 is covering the holder 21. The
moving mechanism 26 moves the portable device 5, in a
state inserted in the key receiver 21a, into the holder 21
(retraction) and out of the holder 21 (projection).
[0030]
The key controller 23 is a microcomputer, Which
includes a CPU, a ROM, and a RAM, and controls the
moving mechanism 26 in accordance With control signals
from the key sensor 24, the cover sensor 25, and a main
microcomputer 31 of a vehicle controller 6. More speci?
cally, When the key sensor 24 detects the insertion of the
portable device 5 in the key receiver 21a, the key controller
23 provides the moving mechanism 26 With a retraction
drive signal to retract the portable device 5 into the holder
21. If the portable device 5 is in the retracted state and the
holder 21 is not covered When the key controller 23 receives
an engine stop signal from the main microcomputer 31, the
Jun. 3, 2004
US 2004/0107031 A1
key controller 23 provides the moving mechanism 26 With
a projection drive signal to project the portable device 5
from the holder 21.
[0031]
Referring to FIGS. 4A and 4B, an indicator 27,
Which is formed by a light emitting device such as an LED,
is arranged on an eXternal surface 22a of the key cover 22.
The indicator 27 is electrically connected to the key con
troller 23, as shoWn in FIG. 5. The key controller 23 has the
indicator 27 indicate that the portable device 5 is in a state
held in the holder 21 or inserted in the key receiver 21a. In
the preferred embodiment, the indicator 27 is continuously
illuminated if the portable device 5 is held in the holder 21
When the engine is running. If the portable device 5 is held
in the holder 21 or inserted in the key receiver 21a When the
engine is not running, the indicator 27 ?ashes and a buZZer
(not shoWn) goes off.
[0032] The key veri?cation unit 4 performs transponder
communication With the portable device 5 When the portable
device 5 is held in the holder 21. More speci?cally, the
portable device 5 includes a transponder driver (not shoWn),
and the holder 21 includes a transponder communicator (not
shoWn). When the portable device 5 is held in the holder 21,
the transponder communicator, Which is located in the key
With an electric signal provided from the main microcom
puter 31. More speci?cally, the door lock driver 44 drives
the actuators to unlock the doors When provided With an
unlock command signal from the main microcomputer 31
and drives the actuators to lock the doors When provided
With a lock command signal from the main microcomputer
31. The SBW circuit 45 sWitches the connection of the
transmission in accordance With an electric signal provided
from the main microcomputer 31. More speci?cally, the
transmission includes an actuator that sWitches the connec
tion of the transmission. The SBW circuit 45 drives the
actuator in accordance With the electric signal (drive control
signal) from the main microcomputer 31 to sWitch the
connection of the transmission. The image recogniZer 46
images the vehicle occupant (e.g., driver) With an imaging
device, such as an infrared camera, that is arranged on a
rearvieW mirror (not shoWn) to generate image data. The
image recogniZer 46 then determines Whether the image data
matches reference image data, Which is stored beforehand,
to perform image recognition. When the image data match,
the vehicle occupant is veri?ed as the authoriZed user. It is
preferred that the image recogniZer 46 verify the vehicle
occupant as the authoriZed user using distinctive and physi
cal features, such as the face, eyes, hands, and ?ngerprints
controller 23, performs communication With the transponder
of the authoriZed user.
driver of the portable device 5. As a result, a transponder
code stored in the transponder driver is compared With a
transponder code stored in the key controller 23. When the
[0036] The image recogniZer 46 is activated in response to
an activation signal provided from the main microcomputer
tWo transponder codes match, the key controller 23 provides
the main microcomputer 31 With an electric signal indicating
veri?cation.
[0033] Referring to FIG. 5, the operation board 11 of the
drive system operation apparatus 3 and the key veri?cation
unit 4 are electrically connected to the vehicle controller 6,
Which is installed in the vehicle 1. The vehicle controller 6
includes the vehicle control main microcomputer 31, Which
incorporates a gearshift control circuit, an engine control
31 and provides the veri?cation result to the main micro
computer 31. The engine driver 47 starts and stops the
engine in accordance With an electric signal from the main
microcomputer 31. More speci?cally, When a predetermined
starting operation is performed after the engine driver 47
receives a start enabling signal from the main microcom
puter 31, the engine driver 47 drives a self-starter motor (not
shoWn) and performs fuel injection and ignition to start the
engine. The engine driver 47 detects the drive state of the
engine in accordance With an ignition pulse and an alternator
circuit, and a communication control circuit. The vehicle
output. When the engine is running, the engine driver 47
controller 6 also includes a transmission circuit 32 and a
provides the main microcomputer 31 With a combustion
signal. When the engine driver 47 is provided With a stop
receiving circuit 33. In the operation board 11, the cover
drive circuit 13, the gearshift operator 14, and the engine
sWitch 15 are electrically connected to the main microcom
puter 31. In the key veri?cation unit 4, the key controller 23
is electrically connected to the main microcomputer 31.
When the gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15 are
operated, electric signals indicating the operation states of
command signal from the main microcomputer 31, the
engine driver 47 stops fuel injection and ignition to stop the
engine. Further, the engine driver 47 stops the output of the
combustion signal. The illumination device 48 illuminates
the headlights, the taillights, the room light, and an instru
ment panel light for illuminating a combination meter 8
the gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15 are
provided to the main microcomputer 31.
(FIG. 1).
[0034]
the portable device 5 form a vehicle drive control system 7.
When receiving a request signal from the vehicle controller
6, the portable device 5 modulates an ID code signal
A gearshift range sensor 41, a door courtesy sWitch
42, a brake sWitch 43, a door lock driver 44, a transmission
driver, or a shift by Wire (SBW) circuit 45, an image
[0037]
Referring to FIG. 5, the vehicle controller 6 and
recogniZer 46 for recogniZing Whether the vehicle occupant
(response signal), Which includes a predetermined ID code,
is the authoriZed user, an engine driver 47, and an illumi
nation device 48 are electrically connected to the main
to a radio Wave having a predetermined frequency (e.g., 300
MHZ) and automatically transmits the radio Wave. In other
Words, the portable device 5 is provided With a function for
communicating With the vehicle controller 6.
microcomputer 31.
[0035]
The gearshift range sensor 41 is arranged in the
transmission (not shoWn) to detect the present gearshift
[0038]
range of the transmission. The door courtesy sWitch 42 is
arranged in each door of the vehicle 1 to detect the state
nected to the transmission circuit 32 and the receiving circuit
33. When predetermined conditions are satis?ed, the main
(opened state and closed state) of the corresponding door.
microcomputer 31 provides the transmission circuit 32 With
a request signal. The transmission circuit 32, Which includes
The brake sWitch 43 detects depression of a foot brake. The
door lock driver 44 includes actuators for locking and
unlocking the doors and drives the actuators in accordance
The main microcomputer 31 is electrically con
an eXterior transmission antenna 32a and an interior trans
mission antenna 32b, modulates the request signal from the
Jun. 3, 2004
US 2004/0107031 A1
main microcomputer 31 to a Wireless signal having a pre
determined frequency (134 kHZ) and outputs the Wireless
request signal from the exterior transmission antenna 32a
and the interior transmission antenna 32b. The exterior
transmission antenna 32a transmits the Wireless request
signal to a predetermined ?rst area around the vehicle 1. The
interior transmission antenna 32b transmits the Wireless
request signal to a predetermined second area that includes
at least the driver seat in the passenger compartment. In
accordance With certain output conditions, the main micro
computer 31 transmits the Wireless request signal from
either the exterior transmission antenna 32a or the interior
transmission antenna 32b.
[0039]
The receiving circuit 33 includes a receiving
controller 6 receives the ID code signal, the main micro
computer 31 veri?es the ID code in step S7. If the ID code
is veri?ed, the vehicle controller 6 performs user recognition
With the image recogniZer 46 in step S8. More speci?cally,
the main microcomputer 31 provides the image recogniZer
46 With an activation signal to perform user recognition With
the image recogniZer 46. When the authoriZed user is
con?rmed through the user recognition process, the vehicle
controller 6 activates the cover drive circuit 13 to expose the
operation board 11 in step S9. In other Words, When the main
microcomputer 31 is provided With an electric signal indi
cating that the driver has been veri?ed as being the autho
riZed user, the main microcomputer 31 provides the cover
drive circuit 13 of the drive system operation apparatus 3
antenna 33a for receiving an ID code signal returned from
the portable device 5 in response to the request signal. When
the receiving circuit 33 receives the ID code signal, the
receiving circuit 33 demodulates the ID code signal to
generate a received signal and provides the main microcom
3B). This enables the operation of the gearshift operator 14
and the engine sWitch 15. Thus, in the regular mode, the
operation board 11 is exposed and the operations of the
puter 31 With the received signal.
[0040] The main microcomputer 31 includes a central
processing unit (CPU), a read only memory (ROM), and a
gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15 are enabled
When the conditions of communication being properly per
formed betWeen the portable device 5 and the vehicle
With a drive signal to move the operation board cover 12 and
expose the operation board 11 (as shoWn in the state of FIG.
random access memory (RAM), and a non-volatile memory
controller 6 in the passenger compartment and the autho
31a. A predetermined ID code is recorded in the memory
31a. When the receiving circuit 33 receives the ID code
riZed user being veri?ed are satis?ed. In this manner, the
signal from the portable device 5, the main microcomputer
31 compares the ID code of the ID code signal With the ID
code recorded in the memory 31a to perform ID code
veri?cation. Under the condition that the ID codes match,
the main microcomputer 31 controls the cover drive circuit
13, the door lock driver 44, the image recogniZer 46, and the
illumination device 48. Based on the processing performed
by the main microcomputer 31, the vehicle 1 enters modes
that Will noW be discussed With reference to the ?oWcharts
of FIGS. 6 and 7.
[0041] 1. Regular Mode
[0042] In step S1 of FIG. 6, the engine is stopped, the
vehicle controller 6 enters a state in Which engine starting is
enabled in step S10.
[0045] When the gearshift operator 14 is operated in this
state, a corresponding operation signal is provided to the
main microcomputer 31. In response to the operation signal
from the gearshift operator 14, the main microcomputer 31
provides the SBW circuit 45 With a drive control signal for
sWitching the connection of the transmission to the corre
sponding gearshift range. Then, the SBW circuit 45 sWitches
the connection of the transmission in accordance With the
drive control signal. Thus, the connection of the transmis
sion is sWitched to a state corresponding to the operation of
the gearshift operator 14.
doors are locked, and the ID codes are not matched in the
passenger compartment. In this case, in step S2, the vehicle
controller 6 transmits the request signal out of the vehicle 1.
When the portable device 5 receives the request signal, the
portable device 5 transmits the ID code signal. In step S3,
the vehicle controller 6 veri?es the ID code With the main
microcomputer 31. When the ID code of the ID code signal
matches the ID code recorded in the memory 31a of the
main microcomputer 31, the main microcomputer 31 pro
vides the door lock driver 44 With an unlock drive signal
(step S4). Thus, as long as a user is carrying the portable
device 5, the user only has to approach the vehicle 1 and
does not have to perform any operations to unlock the doors.
[0043] When any of the door courtesy sWitches 42 detects
the operation (opening and/or closing) of the corresponding
door in step S5, the vehicle controller 6 outputs the request
signal in the passenger compartment in step S6. In other
Words, When communication With the portable device 5 is
established and the doors are unlocked, the vehicle control
ler 6 determines that communication has been established
With the portable device 5 and enters a regular mode. Then,
When a door is operated (opened and/or closed), the vehicle
controller 6 outputs a request signal in the passenger com
partment.
[0044] In response to the request signal, the portable
device 5 transmits the ID code signal. When the vehicle
[0046] The main microcomputer 31 does not provide the
SBW circuit 45 With the drive control signal When the
operation board 11 is in a state covered by the operation
board cover 12. The main microcomputer 31 does not
provide the SBW circuit 45 With the drive control signal
even if an operation signal is received from the gearshift
operator 14 unless the main microcomputer 31 outputs the
drive signal for exposing the operation board 11. In other
Words, When the main microcomputer 31 is not providing
the cover drive circuit 13 With the drive signal that exposes
the operation board 11, the main microcomputer 31 invali
dates the operation signal received from the gearshift opera
tor 14. Thus, even if the gearshift operator 14 is operated in
a state in Which the operation board 11 is forcibly exposed,
such as When the operation board cover 12 is broken, the
connection (gearshift range) of the transmission cannot be
sWitched. This improves the antitheft security of the vehicle
1.
[0047] In step S11, if the engine sWitch 15 is operated in
the state in Which engine starting is enabled, the correspond
ing operation signal is provided to the main microcomputer
31. When receiving the operation signal from the engine
sWitch 15, the main microcomputer 31 provides the illumi
nation device 48 With an activation signal and illuminates
the instrument panel in step S12.
Jun. 3, 2004
US 2004/0107031 A1
[0048] In the preferred embodiment, if the brake switch 43
is activated When the engine switch 15 is operated, the
engine is started in step S13. More speci?cally, if the main
microcomputer 31 is provided With a signal from the brake
sWitch 43 indicating that the brake is being depressed When
the engine sWitch 15 is operated, the main microcomputer 31
provides the engine driver 47 With a start signal. In response
to the start signal, the engine driver 47 starts the engine.
[0049] If the brake sWitch 43 is not activated indicating
that the brake is not being depressed When the engine sWitch
15 is operated, the functional positions of the electric system
in the vehicle 1 is sWitched in step S13. In other Words, if the
main microcomputer 31 is not provided With a signal from
the brake sWitch 43 indicating that the brake is being
depressed When the engine sWitch 15 is operated, the func
tional position is sWitched in the order of OFF, ACC, and ON
passenger compartment. In step S32, the vehicle controller
6 transmits the request signal out of the vehicle 1. When the
ID code signal from the portable device 5 is not received in
response to the request signal in step S33, the vehicle
controller 6 keeps the doors locked. When a door is
unlocked, for eXample, by a mechanical key in step S34 and
the door is then operated (opened and/or closed) in step S35,
the vehicle controller 6 does not transmit the request signal
in the passenger compartment. This differs from the regular
mode. That is, if the door is unlocked When communication
With the portable device 5 is not established, the vehicle
controller 6 enters an irregular mode and does transmit the
request signal in the passenger compartment even if the door
is opened.
starting of the engine and the sWitching of functional posi
[0055] The portable device 5 is inserted in the holder 21 of
the key veri?cation unit 4 in step S36. Then, in step S37,
transponder communication is performed betWeen the por
table device 5 and the key veri?cation unit 4, and the key
controller 23 performs transponder code veri?cation. When
the transponder code is veri?ed, the vehicle controller 6
tions are performed only When the operation board 11 is
performs user veri?cation With the image recogniZer (step
(ignition ON). The starting of the engine and the sWitching
of functional positions are performed only When the gear
shift range is in the P range or the N range. Further, the
eXposed. That is, in the same manner as the gearshift
S38). When the user is veri?ed, the vehicle controller 6
operator 14, the starting of the engine and the sWitching of
drives the cover drive circuit 13 to eXpose the operation
functional positions are not performed When the operation
board 11 of the drive system operation apparatus 3 (step
S39). This enables the operation of the gearshift operator 14
and the engine sWitch 15. In the irregular mode, the opera
board 11 is covered by the operation board cover 12 even if
the engine sWitch 15 is operated. In other Words, the main
microcomputer 31 invalidates the engine sWitch 15 When the
cover drive circuit 13 is not provided With the drive signal
that exposes the operation board 11.
[0050] Subsequently, in step S14, if the vehicle velocity is
Zero and the gearshift range is in the P range or the N range,
When the engine sWitch 15 is operated in step S14, the
engine is stopped in step S15. If a door is opened and closed
after the engine is stopped in step S16, the vehicle controller
6 transmits the request signal in the passenger compartment
in step S17. If the ID code signal cannot be received in
response to the request signal in step S18, the vehicle
controller 6 drives the cover drive circuit 13 to cover the
operation board 11 in step S19. That is, When the main
microcomputer 31 does not receive the ID code signal, the
main microcomputer 31 provides the cover drive circuit 13
of the drive system operation apparatus 3 With the drive
signal that moves the operation board cover 12 and covers
the operation board 11 (as shoWn in the state of FIG. 3A).
[0051] This disables the operation of the gearshift operator
14 and the engine sWitch 15. In the regular mode, When
communication betWeen the portable device 5 and the
vehicle controller 6 is not established in the passenger
compartment of the vehicle 1, the operation board 11 is
covered and the operation of the gearshift operator 14 and
the engine sWitch 15 are disabled.
tion board 11 is eXposed to enable the operation of the
gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15 only When the
portable device 5 is received in the key veri?cation unit 4.
In step S40, the vehicle controller 6 enables the starting of
the engine. In the same manner as in the regular mode, When
the gearshift operator 14 is operated in this state, the
connection of the transmission is sWitched accordingly.
[0056] When the engine sWitch 15 is operated in a state in
Which the starting of the engine is enabled in step S41, the
vehicle controller 6 illuminates the instrument panel in step
S42.
[0057] In the preferred embodiment, if the brake sWitch 43
is activated When the engine sWitch 15 is operated, the
engine is started. If the brake sWitch 43 is inactivated When
the engine sWitch 15 is operated, functional positions of the
electric system in the vehicle 1 is sWitched (step S43).
[0058]
Subsequently, if the vehicle velocity is Zero and the
gearshift range is in the P range or the N range When the
engine is running in step S44, the engine is stopped When the
engine sWitch 15 is operated in step S45. When the engine
stops, the vehicle controller 6 causes the indicator 27, Which
is arranged on the key cover 22, to ?ash and the buZZer to
go off. More particularly, the vehicle controller 6 provides
the key controller 23 With an engine stop signal When the
engine is stopped. When receiving the engine stop signal, the
[0052] In step S20, the vehicle controller 6 transmits the
request signal out of the vehicle 1. If the ID code signal
cannot be received in response to the request signal in step
S21, the vehicle controller 6 locks the doors in step S22.
That is, When the main microcomputer 31 does not receive
the ID code signal, the main microcomputer 31 provides the
key controller 23 provides the indicator 27 With an activa
tion signal to ?ash the indicator 27. This informs the user
door lock driver 44 With a lock drive signal to lock the doors.
This returns the vehicle 1 to the state of step S1.
[0059] If the holder 21 of the key veri?cation unit 4 is
eXposed When the indicator 27 is ?ashing, the key controller
23 provides the moving mechanism 26 With a drive signal to
project the portable device 5 from the holder 21 in step S47.
More speci?cally, for eXample, if the holder 21 is already in
an eXposed state When the engine is stopped, the key
[0053] 2. Irregular Mode
[0054] In step S31 of FIG. 7, the engine is stopped, the
doors are locked, and the ID codes are not matched in the
that the portable device 5 is being received in the key
veri?cation unit 4 and prevents the driver from forgetting to
remove the portable device 5.
Jun. 3, 2004
US 2004/0107031 A1
controller 23 causes the indicator 27 to ?ash and the buzzer
to go off and immediately projects the portable device 5
from the holder 21. If the holder 21 is covered by the key
recogniZer Would be activated in an unnecessary manner and
unnecessary poWer Would be consumed.
cover 22 before the indicator 27 starts to ?ash, the key
controller 23 causes the indicator 27 to ?ash and the buZZer
[0066] (3) Subsequent to the opening of a door in the
regular mode, the main microcomputer 31 activates the
to go off. Then, the key controller 23 projects the portable
device 5 When the holder 21 becomes eXposed. Normally,
the predetermined area of the passenger compartment in the
the key cover 22 is opened to eXpose the holder 21 When
inserting the portable device 5 and When getting out of the
vehicle 1. Automatic projection of the portable device 5
When the driver Wishes to get out the vehicle 1 makes the key
veri?cation unit 4 more convenient.
[0060] When the portable device 5 is projected from the
holder 21, the vehicle controller 6 drives the cover drive
circuit 13 and covers the operation board 11 in step S48.
More speci?cally, When transponder communication can no
longer be established betWeen the portable device 5 and the
key controller 23, the main microcomputer 31 provides the
cover drive circuit 13 With a drive signal to close the
operation board cover 12 and cover the operation board 11
(as shoWn in the state of FIG. 3A). This disables the
operation of the gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch
15. In the irregular mode, under the condition that transpon
der communication is not established betWeen the portable
device 5 and the key controller 23, the operations of the
gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15 are disabled.
image recogniZer 46 When transmitting the request signal in
vehicle and receiving the ID code signal from the portable
device 5. Thus, the image recogniZer 46 is activated only
When the user enters the vehicle 1. This reduces the amount
of poWer consumed by the image recogniZer 46.
[0067] (4) The key cover 22 covers the holder 21. If the
key cover 22 is opened to eXpose the holder 21 When the
portable device 5 is held in the holder 21 and the engine is
stopped, the portable device 5 is automatically projected
from the holder 21. Normally, the key cover 22 is moved to
eXpose the holder 21 When inserting the portable device 5
and When getting off the vehicle 1. The automatic projection
of the portable device 5 When the user get out the vehicle 1
makes the key veri?cation unit 4 convenient and easy to
operate.
[0068] (5) When the portable device 5 is inserted in the
key receiver 21a of the holder 21, the portable device 5 is
automatically retracted into the holder 21. This ensures and
facilitates the retraction of the portable device 5 in the holder
21. Thus, the key veri?cation unit 4 is easy to operate.
described beloW.
[0069] (6) If the engine is stopped When the holder 21 is
in an eXposed state, the portable device 5 is automatically
projected from the holder 21 as the engine stops. In other
Words, even if the vehicle is driven Without closing the
holder 21 With the key cover 22, the portable device 5 is
[0063] (1) To operate the gearshift operator 14 and the
engine sWitch 15, communication betWeen the portable
makes the key veri?cation unit 4 easy to operate.
[0061] When the door is locked by a mechanical key or the
like in step S49, the vehicle 1 returns to the state of step S31.
[0062] The preferred embodiment has the advantages
device 5 and the vehicle controller 6 or the key veri?cation
unit 4 must be established. Further, the image recogniZer 46
must verify that the driver is the authoriZed user. That is, to
drive the vehicle 1, in addition to holding the portable device
5, the driver must have his or her image registered before
hand. This prevents a third person from driving the vehicle
1 even if he or she is carrying the portable device 5. Thus,
basically only the user can drive the vehicle 1.
[0064] (2) In the normal mode, that is, When the doors are
unlocked through communication betWeen the portable
device 5 and the vehicle controller 6, the image recogniZer
46 is activated When communication is established betWeen
the portable device 5 and the vehicle controller 6 in the
passenger compartment. In the irregular mode, that is, When
the doors are unlocked by a mechanical key or the like, the
automatically projected When the engine is stopped. This
[0070] (7) The operation board cover 12 covers the gear
shift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15, Which are
operated to drive the vehicle 1. This prevents a third person
from operating the gearshift operator 14 and the engine
sWitch 15. Further, the gearshift operator 14 and the engine
sWitch 15 cannot be seen from outside the vehicle 1. This
helps to lessen a third person’s incentive to break into the
vehicle 1 and improves the security level of the vehicle 1.
Further, the close location of the gearshift operator 14 and
the engine sWitch 15 facilitate their operations.
[0071] (8) The operation board cover 12 does not eXpose
the gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15 unless
communication is established betWeen the portable device 5
and the vehicle controller 6 or the key veri?cation unit 4.
This prevents someone other than the user from operating
image recogniZer 46 is activated When communication is
established betWeen the portable device 5 and the key
veri?cation unit 4. Accordingly, the image recogniZer 46 is
activated at different timings in the regular mode and the
the gearshift operator 14 and the engine sWitch 15 and
improves the security level of the vehicle 1.
irregular mode. The image recogniZer 46 is activated only
When necessary in each mode. This prevents unnecessary
14b operate the transmission, and the engine sWitch 15 starts
and stops the engine. In comparison With the mechanical
activation of the image recogniZer 46 and decreases the
gearshift operator and engine operator of the prior art such
poWer consumption of the image recogniZer 46.
[0065] If the activation timing of the image recogniZer 46
in the regular mode and the irregular mode Were the same,
for eXample, if the image recogniZer 46 Were to be activated
after unlocking the doors in both modes, the image recog
niZer 46 Would be activated regardless of Whether or not the
user gets into the vehicle 1. In such a case, the image
[0072] (9) The parking sWitch 14a and the gearshift sWitch
as a gearshift lever and an ignition key cylinder, the parking
sWitch 14a, the gearshift sWitch 14b, and the engine sWitch
15 have a more simple and compact structure. Further, the
positions of the sWitches 14a, 14b, and 15 may be deter
mined With a high degree of freedom.
[0073] (10) When the operation board 11 is covered by the
operation board cover 12, even if the vehicle controller 6
Jun. 3, 2004
US 2004/0107031 A1
receives an operation signal from the gearshift operator 14
or the engine sWitch 15, the vehicle controller 6 invalidates
system operation apparatus 3 may be arranged in a center
console 9, a portion 2a of the instrument panel 2 located near
the operation signal. That is, When the gearshift operator 14
the driver side door, or a steering column 10.
and the engine sWitch 15 are in a covered state, even if the
operation board cover 12 is broken and the sWitches 14a,
14b, and 15 are operated, such operation Would not sWitch
the gearshift range or start the engine. This further improves
the security level of the vehicle 1.
[0074] (11) The gearshift operator 14 includes the parking
sWitch 14a and the gearshift sWitch 14b. Each of the
sWitches 14a and 14b is associated With at least one gearshift
range of the transmission. More speci?cally, When the
parking sWitch 14a is operated, the gearshift range is
sWitched to the P range, and When the gearshift sWitch 14b
is operated, the gearshift range is sWitched to the P, R, N, or
D range. Thus, the operation of the sWitch associated With
the desired gearshift range easily and quickly sWitches the
gearshift range. Further, regardless of Whether the gearshift
range is in the R, N, or D range, the parking sWitch 14a may
be operated to immediately sWitch to the P range. This
facilitates the sWitching of gearshift ranges.
[0075] It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that
the present invention may be embodied in many other
speci?c forms Without departing from the spirit or scope of
the invention. Particularly, it should be understood that the
present invention may be embodied in the folloWing forms.
[0076] Either the parking sWitch 14a or the gearshift
sWitch 14b may be eliminated. For eXample, the parking
sWitch 14a may be eliminated and the gearshift sWitch 14b
may be used to sWitch the gearshift ranges betWeen the P, R,
N, and D ranges.
[0077]
The gearshift operator 14 is not limited to the tWo
sWitches, the parking sWitch 14a and the gearshift sWitch
[0081]
The gearshift range indicator 16 may be elimi
nated. In such a case, it is preferred that a gearshift range
indicator 51 be arranged in the combination meter 8 as
shoWn in FIG. 1 to indicate the gearshift range.
[0082] The cover drive circuit 13 may be eliminated, and
the operation board cover 12 may be moved manually. In
this case, it is preferred that movement of the operation
board cover 12 be disabled When communication is not
established betWeen the portable device 5 and the vehicle
controller 6 or the key veri?cation unit 4.
[0083] The key cover 22 may be driven by a cover driver
similar to the cover drive circuit 13 of the drive system
operation apparatus 3. For eXample, the key cover 22 may be
closed to cover the holder 21 When the portable device 5 is
either retained in the holder 21 or removed from the holder
21. This Would eliminate the need to manually cover the
holder 21 and make it further easier to operate the key
veri?cation unit 4. Further, this Would avoid situations in
Which the driver forgets to cover the holder 21 and guaran
tees a high security level.
[0084] The starting of the engine may be enabled When the
holder 21 of the key veri?cation unit 4 is eXposed. In other
Words, even if the holder 21 is eXposed, the key controller
23 provides the main microcomputer 31 With an electric
signal indicating that the transponder codes have matched
(electronic signal enabling the driving of the engine) When
transponder communication is established. HoWever, the
key controller 23 may prohibit the output of the electric
signal, Which enables the starting of the engine, until the key
14b, and may include three or more sWitches. For eXample,
cover 22 covers the holder 21 even if transponder commu
the gearshift operator 14 may include four push button
sWitches, each corresponding to one of the P, R, N, and D
ranges. This Would enable sWitching to the desired gearshift
nication is established With the portable device 5. This
Would enable the starting of the engine only When the
portable device 5 is inserted in the holder 21 and the key
range by operating the corresponding sWitch.
cover 22 covers the holder 21.
[0078] In addition to the parking sWitch 14a, an indepen
dent neutral sWitch for sWitching the gearshift range to the
neutral range may be arranged on the gearshift operator 14.
Operation of the neutral sWitch Would enable the gearshift
range to immediately be sWitched to the N range regardless
of the present gearshift range. An independent drive sWitch
[0085] The key veri?cation unit 4 does not have to be
arranged in the instrument panel 2 betWeen the driver seat
for sWitching the gearshift range to the D range or an
and the passenger seat as long as it is located near the driver
seat. For eXample, referring to FIG. 1, the key veri?cation
unit 4 may be arranged in the center console 9, the portion
2a of the instrument panel 2 located near the driver side
door, or the steering column 10.
independent reverse sWitch for sWitching the gearshift range
to the R range may be arranged on the gearshift operator 14.
This Would enable the vehicle 1 to be moved (forWard or
rearWard) immediately after the engine is started. Further,
erroneous operation resulting from forWard or rearWard
movement of the vehicle 1 Would be prevented. It is pre
ferred that the gearshift range not be sWitched When oper
ating the drive sWitch or the reverse sWitch unless the
vehicle velocity is Zero and the brake pedal is depressed.
[0079] The gearshift sWitch 14b does not have to be a lever
sWitch and may be any kind of sWitch, such as a slide sWitch,
a seesaW sWitch, or a rotary sWitch.
[0086]
The combination meter 8 may indicate Whether or
not the portable device 5 is being held in the holder 21.
[0087]
The portable device 5 does not have to be provided
With a transponder function. In this case, a further key
provided With the transponder function is used in addition to
the portable device 5. The further key is retained in the key
veri?cation unit 4 to enable the vehicle 1 to be driven. In
other Words, the key veri?cation unit 4 does not have to hold
only the portable device 5 but may also hold a further key.
[0088] The image recogniZer 46 may be activated When
driver seat and the passenger seat as long as it is located near
communication With the portable device 5 is established and
the doors are operated (opened and/or closed) after they are
unlocked. The image recogniZer 46 may also be activated
When a seat sensor, Which is arranged in the driver seat,
the driver seat. For eXample, referring to FIG. 1, the drive
detects a person sitting on the seat. This Would eliminate the
[0080] The drive system operation apparatus 3 does not
have to be arranged in the instrument panel 2 betWeen the
Jun. 3, 2004
US 2004/0107031 A1
need for the vehicle controller outputting the request signal
in the passenger compartment.
[0089] The image of the authorized user must be regis
tered beforehand in the image recogniZer 46. In other Words,
When people other than the oWner uses the vehicle 1,
everyone must be registered in the image recogniZer 46 as an
4. The controller according to claim 1, Wherein the
recogniZer detects a distinctive feature of the vehicle occu
pant to verify that the vehicle occupant is the authoriZed
user.
5. The controller according to claim 1, Wherein the
recogniZer images the vehicle occupant to generate image
the authoriZed user, it is preferred that an imaging device,
data and compares the image data With reference image data
that is registered beforehand.
such as a camera, be arranged in the vehicle facing toWards
the passenger seat. When the passenger seat imaging device
images the same person a predetermined number of times,
transmitting a request signal to a predetermined area
authoriZed user. To register someone other than the oWner as
that person’s image may automatically be recorded in the
image recogniZer 46 and be registered as image data of the
authoriZed user. This Would register a person sitting on the
passenger seat a predetermined number of times as an
authoriZed user and simplify user registration.
6. A method for controlling a vehicle having an engine
and a door, the method comprising:
de?ned around the vehicle;
unlocking the door When receiving a response signal in
response to the request signal;
[0090] It is preferred that the image recogniZer 46 use
verifying Whether a vehicle occupant is an authoriZed
user; and
distinctive physical features of an authoriZed user, such as
enabling starting of the engine When the vehicle occupant
the face, eyes, hand, and ?ngerprints, to recogniZe an
authoriZed user.
[0091]
The present examples and embodiments are to be
considered as illustrative and not restrictive, and the inven
tion is not to be limited to the details given herein, but may
be modi?ed Within the scope and equivalence of the
appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A controller of a vehicle having an engine for use With
an authoriZed key having a communication function, the
controller comprising:
a microcomputer for controlling the engine, the micro
computer being capable of communicating With the
authoriZed key;
a recogniZer activated When predetermined conditions,
including establishment of communication betWeen the
microcomputer and the authoriZed key, are satis?ed to
verify Whether a vehicle occupant is an authoriZed user,
the microcomputer enabling the starting of the engine
When communication is established With the authoriZed
key and the recogniZer veri?es the vehicle occupant as
being the authoriZed user.
2. The controller according to claim 1, Wherein the vehicle
includes a passenger compartment, a door, and a key
receiver arranged in the passenger compartment to receive
the authoriZed key, the microcomputer transmits a request
signal to a predetermined ?rst area de?ned around the
vehicle, and the authoriZed key outputs a response signal in
response to the request signal, the microcomputer unlocking
the door When receiving the response signal and entering a
regular mode to activate the recogniZer When the door is
opened, the microcomputer entering an irregular mode to
keep the recogniZer inactivated When the door is unlocked
even though the response signal is not received, and the
microcomputer activates the recogniZer in the irregular
mode When communication is established With the autho
is veri?ed as the authoriZed user.
7. The method according to claim 6, Wherein said veri
fying includes detecting a distinctive feature of the vehicle
occupant and comparing the detected distinctive feature With
reference data that is registered beforehand.
8. The method according to claim 6, Wherein said veri
fying includes imaging the vehicle occupant to generate
image data and comparing the image data With reference
image data that is registered beforehand.
9. The method according to claim 6, Wherein said veri
fying is performed after the response signal is received and
the door is opened.
10. The method according to claim 9, Wherein said
verifying is not performed unless a predetermined condition
is satis?ed When the door is unlocked even though the
response signal is not received.
11. The method according to claim 10, Wherein the
vehicle includes a passenger compartment and the predeter
mined condition includes establishment of transponder com
munication With an authoriZed key located in a key receiver
that is arranged in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
12. Asystem for controlling an engine of a vehicle having
a passenger compartment, the system comprising:
an authoriZed key capable of Wireless communication;
a key receiver arranged in the passenger compartment of
the vehicle to receive the authoriZed key;
a recogniZer arranged in the passenger compartment to
image a vehicle occupant and verify Whether a vehicle
occupant is an authoriZed user;
a communication circuit that performs Wireless commu
nication With the authoriZed key;
a microcomputer connected to the recogniZer and the
communication circuit, the microcomputer activating
the recogniZer When Wireless communication is estab
lished betWeen the authoriZed key and the communi
cation circuit, enabling starting of the engine When the
riZed key received in the key receiver.
3. The controller according to claim 2, Wherein the
microcomputer transmits the request signal to a predeter
recogniZer veri?es that the vehicle occupant is an
mined second area de?ned in the passenger compartment
When Wireless communication is not established
after the door is opened in the regular mode, and the
microcomputer activates the recogniZer When receiving the
betWeen the authoriZed key and the communication
circuit unless a predetermined condition is satis?ed.
response signal from the authoriZed key in response to the
request signal.
authoriZed user, and disabling starting of the engine
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