New Project Titan Inventions Surface covering a Camera System for Autonomous Cab/Ride-Sharing Services & more
Last week Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple's Most Advanced Project Titan Invention Surfaces Detailing Gesture Controls for a Heads-Up Display." Last week's patent was not only impressive, it was only one of six patent applications published to demonstrate the depth and range of thinking that has to go into the creation of an advanced autonomous vehicle. Last June Tim Cook stated that their work on an autonomous vehicle was the mother of all AI projects and over time we'll be able to see why that statement was made.
Last week the U.S. Patent Office published a total of 6 autonomous vehicle related patent filings from Apple and our cover graphic partly covers one of the patent filing titled "Traffic Direction Detection Recognition" as covered further below.
Another of Apple's autonomous vehicle inventions covers a camera system that can apply to ride-sharing and cab services. Considering that Apple invested one billion dollars in China's ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing in 2016, this specific patent may be of particular interest to some.
Traffic Direction Detection Recognition
In summary Apple's Patent covers sensors implemented as part of a vehicle that may collect data about an environment, surrounding a vehicle, such as the locations of pedestrians and other obstacles or the existence of an unexpected situation such as a traffic diversion. A sensor fusion module may collect and process data from various sensors. A traffic direction gesture recognition system be implemented for a vehicle in response to traffic diversion signals in the vehicles vicinity. Sensor data may be combined and analyzed to identify a traffic diversion condition, including identifying a traffic director directing traffic using gestures or signs.
Gestures of a traffic director may be interpreted and understood by the vehicle as commands to perform maneuvers related to the traffic diversion, including stopping, slowing, or turning onto a detour route. The vehicle may be equipped with a command acknowledgement device for acknowledging the to a traffic director the vehicle's understanding of the traffic diversion condition or maneuver commands. Information, such as traffic diversion and detour information, may be shared with other vehicles and devices, or stored in a database. For more, see patent application 20180082134.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 presented above shows us an example of a traffic direction gesture database including several examples of traffic direction gestures.
Vehicle Video System (Includes Autonomous Cab/Ride Sharing Camera System)
In summary, Apple's patent application covers systems and methods for obtaining, maintaining, and distributing vehicle video (i.e., a video obtained with one or more cameras mounted on a vehicle). In some implementations, a user situated in a vehicle could use this interactive interface to indicate or select a location from surroundings of the vehicle, for example, a desired drop-off location, selecting a parking spot, or indicating an object to avoid.
In some implementations, a user is enabled to remotely view or share their vehicle video. For example, a remote user may be enabled to view the surroundings of the vehicle, as if they were an occupant of the vehicle. The vehicle video may be remotely viewed or shared in a variety of ways.
For example, a still panoramic image from the vehicle video may be viewed as a traditional image or in an interactive panorama viewer, allowing the viewer to look around the scene.
For example, a still image showing a view from a perspective selected by a first user (e.g., the sharer) may be presented to a second user.
For example, vehicle video (e.g., panoramic vehicle video) may be interactively viewed, allowing the viewer to freely look around the scene.
For example, vehicle video (e.g., panoramic vehicle video) may be interactively shared, allowing the sharer to control the perspective seen by another user.
For example, video, derived from vehicle video, showing a fixed view from a perspective selected by the sharer may be displayed to another user.
For example, video, derived from vehicle video, showing an automatically controlled video perspective (e.g., tracking an external object) may be displayed to another user. Sharing of portions of vehicle video may be initiated by, for example, choosing to share vehicle video through a messaging app, switching to vehicle video during an in progress video conferencing call (e.g., in the same way you chose front or rear facing cameras on a smartphone), or by permanently or temporarily sharing vehicle video through a social networking interface.
For vehicles that are traveling to drop off or pick up a passenger [think taxi service], in particular an autonomously driving vehicle, it would be helpful for the vehicle to share its camera video with the passenger as it approaches a drop off or pick up location.
Viewing portions of vehicle video may help the passenger have a better sense for where the vehicle is, understand the cause for any delays, and/or direct the vehicle to alter its current course or rendezvous location to facilitate pickup.
For example, a passenger, viewing vehicle video and noticing the vehicle is approaching door 1 in the "arrivals" lane at an airport, may use the interactive interface to direct the vehicle to adjust its configured rendezvous location to a different location instead, such as door 3.
Apple's patent application # 20180082135 was filed in Q3 2017 and published by USPTO last Thursday. One of the inventors listed on the patent filing is Yingen Xiong, Senior Software Engineer for Special Projects Group. As noted below, Xiong is experienced in real time surround view system and applications and many aspects to cameras Apple is working on including dual camera HDR systems for perception pipelines, pinhole and wide angle cameras for field of view cameras.
The remaining autonomous vehicle patents published on Thursday include:
04: Enabling Lidar Detection
05: Motion Minimization Systems and Methods
06: Enabling LIDAR Detection
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