A newly published Project Titan Patent relates to an advanced seat belt system primarily for commercial vehicles using Radar Sensors
Impatient Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently stated that "The development of the Apple Car seems to have lost all visibility at the moment." Because Kuo lost "visibility" of Project Titan, doesn't mean that it has slowed down in the least. Behind the scenes, Apple continues to file patents on an ongoing basis for various vehicle systems and components.
This week, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that once again focuses on Project Titan. This time it appears that the invention relates to a possible wide range of commercial vehicles such as larger autonomous vehicles like buses, or in aircraft (airplanes+) and vehicles using gas, diesel or electric batteries.
More specifically, the invention would appear to apply to commercial vehicles that has many passengers. The reason I suggest this is because the patent is about a safety belt system that is far too complicated for a simple personal vehicle. Today, most drivers console will present an alert via an led that a passenger isn't wearing a safety belt. In today's patent, the alert system is designed to use a sophisticated radar-based system to ensure that seatbelts are being worn and/or worn correctly. That would seem to be more applicable to vehicles with larger cabins and a larger number of passengers.
Overall, Apple's invention relates to devices, systems, and methods that can detect whether a vehicle restraint (safety belt) is being misused by an occupant in a vehicle. Detecting whether a restraint is being misused can be accomplished using one or more sensors to detect and determine a three-dimensional shape of a restraint within a cabin of a vehicle. The three-dimensional shape of the restraint is compared to an expected shape to determine whether the restraint is being misused.
Upon determining that the restraint is being misused, notification of the misuse can be provided, and an operating state of the vehicle can be changed.
Technically, in one aspect, Apple's invention covers a system that includes a radar sensor positioned in a cabin of a vehicle and configured to transmit radar waves into the cabin and receive a first group of reflected radar waves and a second group of reflected radar waves.
A restraint (safety belt) includes a material that causes the transmitted radar waves to reflect off the restraint to generate the first group of reflected radar waves, and the second group of radar waves is reflected off objects other than the restraint.
A controller is configured to determine a shape of the restraint based on the first group of reflected radar waves.
Another aspect of the invention covers a system that includes a sensor positioned in a cabin of a vehicle and configured to transmit a first electromagnetic wave into the cabin and receive a second electromagnetic wave, where the first electromagnetic wave includes first angular orientation. A material is located inside the cabin and is configured to cause the first electromagnetic wave to reflect off the material to generate the second electromagnetic wave with a second angular orientation. An angular difference between the first angular orientation and the second angular orientation is less than a threshold value.
Yet another aspect of the invention covers a radar sensor that transmits radar waves toward an occupant restraint and receives reflected radar waves from the occupant restraint.
A controller is configured to determine a shape of the occupant restraint based on the reflected radar waves and that the shape of the occupant restraint indicates the occupant restraint is being worn incorrectly by an occupant. The controller is configured to provide a notification to the occupant via an output component that the occupant restraint is being worn incorrectly.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a side view of a cabin of a vehicle. The cabin is equipped with a sensor / infrared camera that could capture 3D images of the cabin and passengers that could detect if safety belts are being worn and/or worn correctly.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 above is a schematic illustration of electromagnetic waves propagating in the cabin of the vehicle; FIG. 8 is a flowchart that shows a process for determining a shape of a restraint.
To review the technicalities of this invention, review Apple's U.S. patent application #20230350018.
The Key Inventor listed on this patent is Jeff Sewell, Global System Engineering Manager. He's currently developing confidential technologies to support autonomy systems.