File this to Ford's growing list of obscure patents the American automaker has moved to protect over the past few years. It looks like Ford may be interested in ensuring drivers' beverages arrive intact with a self-leveling cupholder.
Ford moved to protect the self-leveling cupholder with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which shows the traditional design placed at the center of a gimbal. From there, the gimbal moves with any external forces it encounters, which could be acceleration, braking, turning, you get the idea. A weight at the bottom of the cupholder also helps the gimbal provide the proper corrections.
Additionally, the patent also describes a lip guard to work as protection against any dirt or debris that may become trapped and interfere with the gimbal. It also acts as a safeguard to keep the the cupholder from moving too far in one direction. Or, you could not drive around with liquids that aren't secured with a lid, but this works too.
Ford has filed patents for many intriguing innovations in the past few years. There's the retractable bike rack, strange steering-wheel mounted gear selectors, a cockpit with removable steering wheel and pedals, and even heat graphics. Automakers regularly move to protect various products and processes, but there's no guarantee they'll ever come to market.
In the meantime, keep your beverages secure in place the old-fashioned way—with a lid at all times. No one likes cleaning up hot coffee or sticky residue from soda pop.