UPDATE AUG. 10, 2016 4:15 A.M. PST: APPLE LAW FIRM CLAIMS THEY MADE AN ERROR IN FILING. SEE THE FULL UPDATE HERE.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 80 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. This is Apple's first patent clearly indicating that they are inventing some kind of future vehicle. This particular invention covers a steering device for an articulated vehicle. The invention also relates to an articulated vehicle. An articulated vehicle is a vehicle which has a permanent or semi-permanent pivoting joint in its construction, allowing the vehicle to turn more sharply. There are many kinds of articulated vehicles, from heavy equipment to buses, to military vehicles, trams and trains. Apple is the assignee of this invention from BAE Systems Hägglunds AB designs Sweden. The company manufactures and markets military vehicle systems. The company's primary products are infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), armored all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and turret systems. It's unknown at present what Apple has in mind for this specific technology and it's a far cry from a dreamy popcorn for your mind iCar that we're all hoping to see in a future patent, but at least it's proof that Apple has a an automotive division that needed this IP for something that they're working on related to vehicles.
The patent filing states that steering members for an articulated vehicle, particularly an articulated tracked vehicle, comprising a front vehicle unit and a rear vehicle unit steerably interconnected by means of the steering member are known. The front and rear vehicle units are interconnected over a link mechanism of the steering member comprising link shafts about which both vehicle units are mutually pivotable by means of hydraulic cylinders.
Articulated vehicles with such steering member comprises a driveline for operation of front and rear vehicle units, wherein the driveline is arranged to run from the front to the rear vehicle units in connection to the steering member/through the steering member for drive of the rear vehicle unit. Further, according to a variant of such steering members, electricity, fuel, brake fluid and fluid for air-conditioning device are arranged to be transferred in conduits between the vehicle units in connection to/through the steering device.
Due to the fact that the steering member is exposed between the vehicle units it constitutes a weak point of the articulated vehicle. A problem with such a steering member is consequently that it is subjected to external impact, e.g. effective fire in a war situation, such that e.g. the steering of the vehicle or other sensitive function such as braking, drive function, electricity is put out of operation.
Granted Patent: Steering Device for an Articulated Vehicle
Apple's newly granted patent covers an invention relating to a steering device for an articulated vehicle. The invention also relates to an articulated vehicle. More specifically, the invention is to provide a steering device for an articulated vehicle which improves the reliability during drive.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below schematically illustrates a side view of an articulated vehicle with a protection device; FIG. 2 schematically illustrates a plan view of a part of the articulated vehicle in FIG. 1.
According to the invention the objects are achieved by a steering device comprising a steering member for mutually steering a first vehicle unit and a second vehicle unit of an articulated vehicle comprising means for mutually pivot said vehicle units, wherein the steering device comprises a housing configuration arranged to form a supply space between said vehicle units, comprising means arranged for removal of stuff in the supply space incoming from the surrounding. Hereby the risk of stuff in the housing configuration affecting the steering is avoided/reduced, wherein the reliability thus is improved.
According to an embodiment of the steering device said means comprises a heating device arranged to heat air intended to stream through the housing configuration. Hereby removal of snow and/or ice introduced from the surrounding if facilitated through heating of said snow/ice by means of the air streaming through the housing configuration and/or prevention of ice formation in that the space is kept warm by means of the air streaming through the housing configuration. Thereby the risk of snow and/or ice in the housing configuration affecting the steering is avoided/reduced, wherein the reliability thus is improved.
According to an embodiment of the steering device said means comprises an air intake arranged in a vehicle unit, a radiator arranged downstream of the air intake, wherein air heated by means of heat exchange downstream of the radiator is arranged to stream through the housing configuration.
According to an embodiment of the steering device air intake and radiator are arranged in connection to the first vehicle unit, which constitutes the front vehicle unit. Hereby efficient stream of air through the housing configuration during drive is obtained.
According to an embodiment of the steering device said steering member comprises an essentially vertical link shaft about which said vehicle units are pivotable. Hereby easy and efficient pivoting of the vehicle units is facilitated. According to an embodiment of the steering device said means for mutually pivoting said vehicle units comprises a first and second steering element. Hereby efficient steering of the vehicle is obtained in that the steering is facilitated by two steering elements. The steering elements are preferably constituted by steering cylinders which preferably are hydraulic.
According to an embodiment of the steering device said means comprises the bottom part of the housing configuration, which comprises two mutually movable protective elements arranged to, in a non-pivoting state of the vehicle, partly overlap each other, and, in a pivotable state of the vehicle, provide a drainage opening of the bottom part. Hereby removal of stuff such as rocks, gravel or the corresponding introduced from the surrounding is facilitated. Thereby is avoided that rocks, gravel or the corresponding in the housing configuration affects the steering and drive shaft through the steering device, wherein the reliability is thus improved.
At this time it's unknown what Apple's application for this invention is for. One of the applications for this technology could relate to a double bus as noted in the patent figure below. Considering that Apple loves the word Magic, as in Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, perhaps their working on a Magic Bus. I can hear the Who's tune now as part of the ad for Apple's fantasy bus. Okay, it's just a joke, but Apple has surely captured our curiosity with this newly granted patent and we hope that more are on the way. Hopefully one that's a little more dreamy, like the design that popped up in a new Korean report this morning about Apple signing a deal for a next generation car battery that has a completely new design than anything on the market today. The concept iCar design found in that same article looks like a suped-up Magic Mouse on wheels.
Apple's granted patent 9,409,599 was originally filed in 2015 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Below are photos of 'articulated vehicles' found on BAE Systems website.
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