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Apple has been granted a patent for a next-gen Restraint Passenger System for a Future Driverless Vehicle

11. 1BX -Apple Project Titan - LARGE

Apple's Project Titan is a long-range project relating to future autonomous and semi-autonomous electric vehicles. We've been covering this trend for years and our archive houses 154 patents (including today's patent). We know the project is real because two ex-Chinese engineers Xiaolang Zhang and Weibao Wang were arrested and charged for stealing Project Titan trade secrets for companies in China. No one gets arrested for stealing trade secrets of vaporware.

Project Titan covers every part of future vehicles imaginable. One or more teams are working on safety belt & airbag passenger restraint systems. Various teams have come up with different possible systems that Apple could one day adopt for different types of possible vehicles. Here are a few past patents on this subject matter: 01, 02, 03 and 04.

On May 23, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent simply titled 'Restraint System.' On May 15, Patently Apple posted a patent report titled "Apple Invents a Large In-Vehicle Smart-Table with multiple Degrees of Freedom that could double as a Large Display and more. That was about an autonomous vehicle where the two rows of seats were designed with a built-in table between the rows in a private vehicle. Apple's recent granted patent could relate to a private autonomous vehicle or other types of vehicles such as an autonomous tax or shuttle bus where the two rows of seats face each other without a table.

This type of autonomous vehicle will force the car industry to rethink how to deploy an Airbag system. Conventional airbags are hidden in the steering wheel for the driver and part of the dashboard for passengers, which Apple describes as a "reaction surface." In vehicles where there's no driver and front and back seats face each other, there is no "reaction surface" to place airbags.

Apple's invention technically covers a vehicle that includes a vehicle body, seats, and a deployable restraint system. The vehicle body includes a floor, a roof, and two sides that cooperatively define a passenger compartment. The seats are positioned in the passenger compartment. At least one of the seats is arranged in a front row and faces rearward. At least one other of the seats is arranged in a rear row and faces forward toward the front row. The deployable restraint system includes a panel and a panel actuator that deploys the panel. The panel extends inboard along the roof when stored. The panel is placed in tension between one of the sides and the roof when deployed by the panel actuator.

The panel may, when deployed by the panel actuator, transfers force to and be placed in tension between upper tension locations at the roof and a lower outboard tension location at one of the two sides but not the other of the two sides.

The upper tension locations may include an upper inboard tension location that is further from the one of the two sides than the other of the two sides. An upper end of the panel may be fixedly coupled to the roof at the upper tension locations to transfer force thereto.

A lower end of the panel may be coupled to a tether that transfers force to the lower outboard tension location. The panel actuator may move the tether to pull the lower end of the panel downward.

The deployable restraint system may further include an inflatable cushion (Airbag) and a cushion actuator that deploys the inflatable cushion by inflating the cushion. The inflatable cushion may extend inboard along the roof when stored and/or may be deployed between the panel and a seat back of the at least one seat in the rear row. When both of the panel and the inflatable cushion are deployed, the inflatable cushion may extend below the panel.

Apple's patent FIG. 1A below is a side view of a passenger compartment of a passenger vehicle;  FIG. 3A is the side view of the passenger compartment of FIG. 1A with deployable restraint systems in deployed states; and FIG. 3B is the cross-sectional view of the passenger compartment of FIG. 1B with the deployable restraint systems in the deployed states. Click on the image below to enlarge so as to be able to read about the components broken down for you.

2 Apple inventions roof and side reaction panel deployment of airbags for future autonomous vehicle - Patently Apple IP report June 2023

Further to FIG. 3B: Prior to deployment, the inflatable cushion #250 is hidden from view, for example, behind trim panels or other covers associated with the roof #116 (e.g., the cross structure 116a) and/or one of the sides #118 (e.g., a middle one of the pillar structures #118a), such as those same covers or trim panels that hide the reaction panel #240 from view.

When stored, the inflatable cushion may be folded (e.g., pleated) and/or rolled to be in a compact elongated form that extends laterally at least partially across the roof, for example, being positioned rearward of the reaction panel.

The cushion actuator #270 may be any suitable inflator device, such as a pyrotechnic, that deploys the inflatable cushion 250 by inflating the inflatable cushion with a gas.

In operation, the restraint control system is configured to deploy the reaction panel prior to the inflatable cushion, such that the reaction panel is in position to transfer force from the inflatable cushion to the roof and the side #118 of the vehicle body to restrain the passenger during a high acceleration or deceleration event.

For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11654858. Apple's lead inventor listed is Adam Golman, Senior Team Lead R&D Engineer, Autonomous Technologies.

10.52FX - Granted Patent Bar


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