Apple won 2 Project Titan patents this week relating to 'Retractable' Pedals & Steering Wheel when in Autonomous Vehicle Mode+
Yesterday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple two new Project Titan patents covering "Retractable Input Devices" and an in-vehicle "Video System. In the first patent, Apple had designed a vehicle with hybrid controls between manual drive with a driver and an autonomous system that drives the car automatically. In this mode the vehicle's physical pedals retract and are not readily available to use until a driver changes the vehicle mode to manual for city driving. The steering wheel also retracts when in autonomous mode. The second patent relates to a video system for vehicles.
Retractable Input Devices
In an implementation of this granted patent, a passenger vehicle includes a vehicle body, a drive system, a steering system, a manual control system, and an autonomous control system. The vehicle body defines a passenger compartment. The drive system is coupled to the vehicle body and configured to propel the passenger vehicle. The steering system is coupled to the vehicle body and configured to steer the passenger vehicle.
The manual control system includes one or more user input devices for receiving a user input from a user and is configured to control the drive system and the steering system according to the user input when the passenger vehicle is operated in a manual drive mode.
The autonomous control system includes a sensor for sensing an external condition and a controller that autonomously controls the drive system and the steering system according to the external condition when the passenger vehicle is operated in an autonomous drive mode. The one or more user input devices are movable between a first configuration to receive the user input by being physically manipulated by the user, and a second configuration in which the user input is not receivable.
The passenger vehicle may include two user input devices that include a steering input device for receiving the user input of a steering input and a drive input device for receiving another user input of a drive input.
The steering input device may be mechanically coupled to the vehicle body and may be rotatable by the user to receive the steering input in the first configuration.
A physical separator may be arranged between the steering input device and the user in the second configuration. The drive input device may be a foot pedal that is mechanically coupled to the vehicle body and may be pressable by the user to receive the drive input in the first configuration. The foot pedal is retracted into a recess of an interior surface that defines the passenger compartment in the second configuration. The user input devices may be in the first configuration in the manual drive mode and in the second configuration in the autonomous drive mode. In the second configuration, the user input devices are configured to not be physically manipulated by the user.
In an implementation, a passenger vehicle includes a vehicle body, a seat, a steering input device, and a movable fascia component. The vehicle body defines a passenger compartment. The seat is in the passenger compartment for supporting a user. The steering input device is mechanically coupled to the vehicle body and is rotatable by the user to receive steering inputs to steer the vehicle.
The movable fascia component forms a visible surface inside the passenger compartment. The steering input device and the movable fascia component are movable between a first configuration in which the movable fascia component is rearward of the steering input device and a second configuration in which the movable fascia component is forward of the steering input device.
The passenger vehicle may further include a fixed fascia component that is fixed relative to the vehicle body and forms another visible surface inside the passenger compartment. The movable fascia component may be movable relative to the fixed fascia component between the first configuration and the second configuration, and may be adjacent the fixed fascia component in the second configuration. At least one of the movable fascia component and the fixed fascia component includes an electronic display. The steering input device may be in a retracted position in the first configuration and an extended position in the second configuration. In the first configuration, the steering input device may be in the retracted position in a compartment that is selectively closed by the movable fascia component.
In an implementation, a passenger vehicle includes a vehicle body, a foot pedal, and an interior surface. The vehicle body defines a passenger compartment for a user. The foot pedal is mechanically coupled to the vehicle body and pressable by the user to receive a user input to control a speed of the passenger vehicle. The interior surface defines the passenger compartment and includes a recess. The foot pedal is movable between an extended position extending into the passenger compartment and a retracted position in the recess of the interior surface. The foot pedal being is configured to receive the user input in the extended position.
An outer periphery of the foot pedal may be complementary to an inner periphery of the recess. In the retracted position, an outer surface of the foot pedal may be substantially flush with the interior surface. The interior surface may be a floor of the passenger compartment. The foot pedal may be pivotable relative to the floor to both receive the user input and to move between the extended position and the retracted position.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic view of an embodiment of a passenger vehicle with FIG. illustrating a dual manual and autonomous driving systems coexisting; FIG. 3A is a forward-looking view from within a passenger compartment of the passenger vehicle of FIG. 1; FIG. 3B is a partial cross-sectional view of the passenger compartment of the vehicle in FIG. 1.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11738795.
In-Vehicle Video System
Apple's second Project Titan granted patent relates generally to processing and use of video generated by one or more cameras.
In Apple's patent background they note that some people have difficulty seeing out of a vehicle, because their view is obstructed by their positioning within the vehicle or because of vision. Some people wish to update friends or loved ones about their progress on a trip, e.g., when they are traveling in a vehicle to meet someone. Conventional facilities for sharing current location include providing coordinates on a map. But, map data may not tell the whole story.
In some implementations, a portion of the vehicle video may be selected for presentation to a user based on a time or location that is of interest. Vehicle video stored in a video buffer and frames of the vehicle video are associated with a time and with a location at which those frames where obtained. Vehicle video in the buffer is searched and identified using time and/or geolocation parameter to find relevant frames.
In some implementations, a user may view portions of a vehicle video on a personal device (e.g., a smartphone, a tablet, a head-mounted display). The user can also interact with how the video is displayed by, for example, orienting their personal device (that is displaying the video) to select a viewing angle from within the field of view of the vehicle video. In some implementations, the orientation of a personal device relative to the vehicle is used to determine viewing angle. For example, if the user orients the personal device such that the person device faces the rear of the vehicle, the personal device can proceed to display video from the perspective of someone who is looking out the rear of the vehicle. This allows a user situated in the vehicle to intuitively view the surroundings of the vehicle even in cases where their natural view is obstructed or otherwise impaired.
In some implementations, vehicle video may be shared between vehicles to explore conditions along a route that has been previously traveled by another vehicle (but is not yet traveled by this vehicle). This feature is useful, for example, in route planning.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 is an illustration of an exemplary system for sharing video of a path traversed by a vehicle; FIG. 6 is a flowchart of an exemplary process for sharing video of a path traversed by a vehicle.
For more details review Granted Patent 11743526.