Apple has Won Two 'Project Titan' Patents covering an Exterior Lighting and Warning System + Occupant Safety Systems
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple two patents that relates to Project Titan, their electronic vehicle project. The first patent covers a new exterior lighting system conveying various warnings to surrounding vehicles in the form of different exterior lighting systems and those with actual text. The second granted patent covers an occupant safety system with inflatable restraints deployable from lap portions and more.
Exterior Lighting and Warning System
Apple's granted patent relates to a future autonomous vehicle that may have vehicle controls that are used in steering, braking, and accelerating the vehicle. The vehicle may have sensors that gather information on vehicle speed, orientation, and position. The sensors may also gather information on relative speed between the vehicle and a following vehicle, information on risks of a collision between a vehicle and an external object, and other vehicle status information and vehicle operating environment information.
Control circuitry may use light-based devices to display braking information, information on vehicle speed, the relative speed between a vehicle and a following vehicle, autonomous driving mode status information, custom brake light information or other user-selected information, or other information on vehicle status and the operating environment of a vehicle.
The light output may include large areas of a single color, may include text, icons, or other visual content, may include moving content, may include light of multiple colors, and may include other patterns of light.
Apple's patent FIGS. 11-13 illustrates a more communicative manner in which to convey the different levels of breaking being applied to the vehicle at any point in time; FIGS. 25 and 26 present side views of an illustrative vehicles with exterior lighting, one with added text; FIG. 27 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in operating a vehicle and associated systems while producing light-based warnings and other output.
In addition to displaying brake light information on the rear of the vehicle, it may be desirable to display associated information such as vehicle speed, the relative speed between a vehicle following the vehicle (sometimes referred to as a closing speed), or other information related to the status of the vehicle. If desired, vehicle speed or relative vehicle speed may be displayed textually.
In the example of FIG. 16 below, vehicle light region #110 on the rear of the vehicle has the shape of a gauge (e.g., a speedometer). The speed of the vehicle or the relative speed between a following vehicle and vehicle #10 may be displayed by arm #116 of the gauge.
Arrangements of the type shown in FIGS. 14, 15, and 16 may be used in displaying vehicle speed, closing speed, position information, and/or other information (e.g., information in addition to or instead of braking information).
The example of FIG. 21 shows how a lighting region for the vehicle such as region #126 may include icons and/or text. Text (e.g., alphanumeric characters) may contain static text information (e.g., "stopping" to indicate that the vehicle is stopping) or may contain information that is continuously updated (e.g., "current speed is 22 mph").
Non-vehicular information may also be displayed (e.g., "tornadoes in area," "fog ahead on roadway," "traffic congestion in 1 mile," etc.). Icons in region 126 may include warning symbols (e.g., warning triangles, icons that include warning information within triangular boundaries, etc.).
Apple's patent FIG. 22 above is a diagram of illustrative vehicle light output from a light-based device that displays current vehicle speed; FIG. 23 is a diagram of illustrative vehicle light output from a light-based device that displays the difference in speed between a vehicle and a following vehicle; FIG. 24 is a diagram of different illustrative user-selectable vehicle light output patterns that may be associated with a customizable vehicle light.
The lighting systems are primarily for future autonomous vehicle, though it could apply to semi-autonomous vehicles as well.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,104,267. A few of the inventors are listed below:
Chris Child: Product Design Engineer – Special Projects Group. Chris came to Apple via Toyota where he worked as an Engineering Manager – Multimedia, Audio and Electrical (Lexus and Scion).
Clarisse Mazuir: Lighting and sensors lead at Apple SPG
Bivin Varghese: Manager, Special Projects Engineering Program Manager
Albert Golko: Product Development Engineering Director
Arthur Zhang: System Architecture / Technologies
Occupant Safety Systems
In May 2020 Patently Apple posted a granted patent report titled Apple Wins a Project Titan Patent illustrating Next-Gen Seat belt systems that includes Roof and Lapbelt Airbags. You could review our previous report for details about the general overview of the invention, here.
Apple was granted a second patent for this invention based on adding 20 new patent claims to further protect the patent from patent trolls and competition. Below is a sampling of the new patent claims that Apple has added:
New Patent Claim #1: "An occupant safety system, comprising: a sensor that provides an output signal indicative of an imminent collision; a roof airbag deployable from a location on a roof of a vehicle that is forward of location of a seat in the vehicle into a vehicle cabin based on the output signal; and a tether, comprising: a first end coupled to a bottom corner of the roof airbag at a first anchor location configured to be positioned in front of an occupant secured in the seat during the imminent collision; and a second end coupled to the vehicle at a second anchor location positioned behind the seat during the imminent collision, wherein a top of the roof airbag is configured to decouple from and become spaced from the roof of the vehicle upon deployment and move downward into the vehicle cabin to a position configured to restrain a head and a torso of the occupant during the imminent collision."
New Patent Claim #4: "The system of claim 1, further comprising: a seatbelt comprising a lap portion configured to secure the occupant to the seat of the vehicle; and a lapbelt airbag deployable from the lap portion of the seatbelt into the vehicle cabin based on the output signal, wherein the lapbelt airbag is configured to deploy at a position in the vehicle between the location of the occupant secured to the seat and the location of the roof airbag, and wherein the roof airbag is configured to serve as a reaction surface for the lapbelt airbag and the lapbelt airbag is configured to serve as a reaction surface for a head and torso of the occupant."
New Patent Claim #11: "An occupant safety system, comprising: a sensor that provides an output signal indicative of an imminent collision; a roof airbag configured to deploy from a location on a roof of a vehicle forward of a location of an occupant into a vehicle cabin based on the output signal; a seatbelt comprising a lap portion configured to secure the occupant to a seat of the vehicle; and a lapbelt airbag configured to deploy from the lap portion of the seatbelt into the vehicle cabin and toward the roof based on the output signal, wherein the lapbelt airbag is configured to deploy at a position in between the locations of the occupant and the roof airbag, wherein the roof airbag is configured to serve as a reaction surface for the lapbelt airbag during the imminent collision, and wherein the lapbelt airbag comprises at least one of: horizontally-extending chambers allowing for variable pressures along a height of the lapbelt airbag and variable heights of deployment of the lapbelt airbag; or vertically-extending chambers allowing for variable stiffness along a width of the lapbelt airbag."
To review the other 17 new patent claims for this invention, review granted patent 11,104,291.