An Apple patent reveals a Guidance System for Autonomous Vehicles that includes user precision gesturing on an iPhone
On Tuesday Patently Apple reported that Apple had hired a highly experienced Ford Motor Car Executive with 31 years' experience to join Project Titan, Apple's autonomous/semi-autonomous electric vehicle project. The report also pointed to a recent Bloomberg report stating that Apple was also trying to master autonomous driving as part of the project -- an auto-industry holy grail that tech companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo also have been grappling with.
On Wednesday, another Project Titan rumor emerged from Taiwan's United Daily News that the Pan-Hon Hai Group is expected to undertake Apple Car production. The rumor claims that Hon Hai's Mexican plant that currently supplies Tesla vehicle sunroofs, batteries and other components will be where the Apple Car will be manufactured. You could read more about this rumor here.
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to autonomous vehicles, and more specifically, an advanced "Guidance System" to fine tune final destinations.
Apple notes that vehicles which are capable of sensing their environment and navigating to destinations with little or no ongoing input from occupants are referred to as "autonomous" or "self-driving" vehicles. Given the multiplicity of choices that are typically available with respect to vehicle trajectories in real-world environments, occupant input or guidance with regard to selecting vehicle trajectories (without requiring traditional steering, braking, accelerating and the like) may be extremely valuable to the motion control components of such vehicles.
However, providing interfaces for such guidance which are intuitive and easy to use, especially within environments such as parking lots for which detailed and/or accurate mapping data may not be available, may present a non-trivial challenge.
Apple's patent covers various embodiments of methods and apparatus for guidance of autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles in destination vicinities using intent signals are described. In at least some embodiments, a method may comprise obtaining, at a navigation manager implemented using one or more computing devices, an indication of a destination of a vehicle (such as a large retail store, an office complex, a shopping mall or the like), where the vicinity of the destination comprises numerous vehicle stopping points (such as parking spaces).
A route towards the destination may be identified, and the vicinity of the destination may be reached. At this point, finer-grained guidance regarding the actual stopping point of the vehicle may be needed. The method may further comprise detecting, using one or more sensors, one or more signals generated by an individual authorized or permitted to provide guidance with respect to movements of the vehicle.
For example, in some cases, the individual may gesture towards an intended parking space in a parking area, and combine the gesture with the voice command "Park over there."
In another embodiment, the individual may use a touch-sensitive interface, such as a screen of a mobile phone or tablet device, to mark an intended stopping point, trace a path towards a particular area or stopping point, or indicate an intended direction of motion via a virtual joy-stick interface.
In some embodiments, the signals may comprise a voice command using Siri to indicate landmark or sign which may be visible from the vehicle, such as the equivalent of "Park near the gardening supplies entrance" or "Park near the cafeteria entrance."
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an example system environment in which movements of an autonomous vehicle in the vicinity of a destination may be guided at least partly by intent signals provided by an occupant of the vehicle.
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Apple's patent FIG. 2 illustrates an example parking lot within which navigation decisions may be made by components of an autonomous vehicle based on intent signals; FIG. 3 below illustrates an example interaction between a navigation manager of an autonomous vehicle and an occupant of the vehicle.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 below illustrates an example scenario in which a gesture made using a hand-held computing device or phone may be used to provide navigation guidance.
In Apple's patent FIG. 6 above, they clarify the user's gesture(s) made on an iPhone in patent FIG. 8 above. The FIG. illustrates an example touch-based virtual joystick interface which may be used by a vehicle occupant to indicate desired movements of the vehicle relative to its current position.
For more details, review Apple's patent application number 20220137625. While this is technically an updated patent, Apple completely scrapped their original patent claims and replaced them with all-new ones that better represents their invention.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.