Apple Car Details Exposed In Patent Filings – Report

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Details about Apple’s long planned electric car has been revealed after an investigation of it’s patent filings, which shows how Apple intends to differ its car from rivals by incorporating cutting-edge tech.

The investigation was carried out popular YouTube car review channel Carwow and its host Mat Watson, who trawled the patent office and found lots of “cool ideas and concepts that Apple has patented for its car.”

Last month Apple was reportedly seeking to bring its long touted electric car to market sometime in 2025.

Apple is also increasing its focus on full self-driving capabilities of the so called Apple Car.

self-driving automated vehicle Image credit: ARM
ARM

Bodywork display

The first noteworthy patent found by Watson concerned a major development with the bodywork of the car.

Apple has patented the idea of placing a OLED screen along the width of the car itself on both sides, creating a changeable display (or wallpaper) visible to people outside the vehicle.

Ideas include displaying the speedometer of the car on the bodywork.

Another patent image reveals various patterns on the bodywork screen, which suggests the ability to add customisable images, messages, patterns or other pictures down the side of the Apple car.

Although the patent diagram shows a relatively narrow strip of OLED screens down the side of the car, it would not take much to enlarge these screens to include most of the side of the car’s bodywork.

This ability to easily customise the look of a car could have a significant impact on many custom workshops and businesses around the world.

But this ability for the body of the Apple car to display particular images could also have a major safety benefit.

For example, if a driver made an emergency stop, the car’s entire body could flash emergency stop messaging to warn other drivers.

Lidar reflectors

The second patent shows Apple is working on a Lidar system, which is like radar, but instead of using soundwaves to identify objects in the distance, it uses light waves for improved accuracy.

Other manufacturers of self-driving cars are of course developing their own Lidar systems, so what Apple is proposing with its patent is nothing particularly new.

However, instead of just fitting a Lidar sensors to its car, Apple’s patent reveals it intends to fit Lidar reflectors to its car, which will mean that other cars with Lidar, can easily identity the Apple Car, making it thus safer.

Facial recognition access

A third patent reveals Apple is not going to opt for the usual keys or keyfobs to unlock and open the car doors, or start the engine.

Instead the patent reveals that a person’s iPhone or Apple Watch will be used to unlock and access the vehicle, by pairing these devices to the car itself.

This is not a new solution and would be expected from a device manufacturer such as Apple.

Indeed, many cars today can be opened by phones or even apps, or bespoke wristbands in certain cases, typically using NFC (near field communication) chips embedded in the phone or car.

But Apple is rumoured to be going one step further, Carwow reported.

Apple is reportedly working on facial recognition to allow a person to unlock and access the car, and start the ignition.

Climate control

Another patent concerns the climate controls typically found in all cars nowadays, governing the inside temperature of the vehicle.

These typically allow the creation of individual zones that can have different temperatures to other parts of the vehicle.

Apple wants to set the car cabin’s temperature to be set automatically, but will reportedly utilise a body part analyser to judge which parts of a person’s body needs to be heated or cooled.

For example fresh cool air for the driver’s face, coupled with warn air in the footwell if his feet is freezing, to ensure the driver is always at the optimal temperature.

Apple is also reportedly going to use reactive glass for its sunroof, windscreens and windows. Reactive glass is commonly found on modern eyewear or glasses.

The reactive glass in the sunroof will therefore be used to help heat up the car cabin, or indeed cool it down, depending on outside weather conditions.

And in a further step, part of the sunroof or windscreen, could be individually adjusted to ensure for example that the passenger’s temperature is maintain to their preferences, and not that of the driver.

It will also automatically adjust the windscreen to shade certain parts of the glass if an oncoming driver has left his fullbeams on and is dazzling the driver.

Swivel seating

One of the common concepts found in self-driving demonstrations over the years is the ability of the driver or front passenger to swivel their seat around to face passengers in the rear, whilst the car continues to drive itself.

Apple has filed a patent in this regard, namely how the car will react to changed seating positions in the advent of an accident.

To ensure the safety of the passengers, airbags will deployed from the roof itself, and not just side pillars, consoles or steering wheels.

Another Apple patent concerns adjustable seatbelt buckles, so that the seatbelt buckle can be individually moved sideways to cater for thinner or indeed larger body types.

This is a notable change from the one size fits all seatbelt buckle approach on existing cars.

Gesture driving

The next patent contains gesture controls, which is not new, as it found on many modern BMWs to govern infotainment systems.

Apple however intends to introduce gesture control for when the car is self-driving, so that a passenger can swipe left for example if they want the car to go left.

After all, who needs a steering wheel?

But the truth is that Apple is likely to face a sizeable challenge getting that approved by safety regulators, and this feature is some time away, until car’s host truly safe automous driving systems.

Connected charging

Another Apple patent concerns how an Apple car will connect automatically to a charging station, so the driver doesn’t have to exit the car and plug it in manually – handy when it is raining.

Tesla it should be noted has prototype for a similar system for its vehicles.

In a similar vein, another patent which other manufacturers have already developed concerns a way for an Apple car to charge another electric vehicle, for when there is no charging station available.

Typical existing ideas in this regard rely on the cars being stationary.

But Apple wants to introduce vehicle-to-vehicle charging whilst the cars are on the move, similar to the way fighter aircraft are refuelled from a tanker aircraft, whilst both are airborne.

Once again, regulators are sure to be all over this idea.

Changeable interiors

The final patent uncovered by Carwow concerns fabrics or materials with LEDs under the surface.

This would allow the car’s interior to be personalised.

For example, a driver could change their seat colour to bright orange, or change the pattern of the seat covering.

Or text could be displayed on the seat itself.

This could allow parents to assign a particular seat to a particular child before a journey, removing potential arguments between siblings.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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