Like a Science Fiction Novel, Apple reveals how Your Personal Driving Profile will Control your Autonomous Car
To date Patently Apple's 'Autonomous Vehicle Technology' archive holds a dozen patents covering such inventions as a guidance system, a neural network system controlling realtime vehicle functions, a realtime heads-up display, in-vehicle entertainment and much more. Earlier today Patently Apple discovered yet another autonomous vehicle patent filing in Europe, this time covering personal comfort profiles for autonomous vehicles.
The rise of interest in autonomous navigation of vehicles, including automobiles, has resulted in a desire to develop autonomous navigation systems which can autonomously navigate (i.e., autonomously "drive") a vehicle through various routes, including one or more roads in a road network, such as contemporary roads, streets, highways, etc. Such autonomous navigation systems can control one or more automotive control elements of the vehicle to implement such autonomous navigation. Such control by the autonomous navigation system in a vehicle can be referred to as autonomous driving control of the vehicle.
Apple's invention is specifically focused on providing an autonomous navigation system which can navigate a vehicle through an environment according to a selected comfort profile, where the comfort profile associates a particular set of occupant profiles and a particular set of driving control parameters, so that the vehicle is navigated based on the particular set of driving control parameters.
The comfort profile is selected based on a determined correlation between the occupants detected in the vehicle interior and the occupants specified by the set of occupant profiles included in the comfort profile. The driving control parameters included in a comfort profile can be adjusted based on monitoring occupants of the vehicle for feedback when the vehicle is being autonomously navigated according to the comfort profile.
Some embodiments provide an apparatus which includes an autonomous navigation system which can be installed in a vehicle and autonomously navigates the vehicle through an environment in which the vehicle is located based on a selected comfort profile. The autonomous navigation system selects a comfort profile, from a set of comfort profiles, based on a determined correlation between a set of detected occupant profiles, generated based on a set of occupants detected within an interior of the vehicle, and a set of occupant profiles included in the particular comfort profile; and generates a set of control element signals which, when executed by a set of control elements included in the vehicle, cause the vehicle to be autonomously navigated along a driving route according to the selected comfort profile, based on a set of driving control parameters included in the selected comfort profile.
Some embodiments provide a method which includes autonomously navigating a vehicle through an environment in which the vehicle is located based on a selected comfort profile. The autonomously navigating includes determining a correlation between a set of detected occupant profiles, generated based on a set of occupants detected within an interior of the vehicle, and a set of occupant profiles included in a comfort profile, wherein the comfort profile includes the set of occupant profiles and a corresponding set of driving control parameters; and causing the vehicle to be autonomously navigated along a driving route according to the comfort profile, based on one or more driving control parameter values included in the corresponding set of driving control parameters.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a schematic block diagram of a vehicle which comprises an autonomous navigation system (ANS) which is configured to autonomously navigate the vehicle (car, truck, van) through an environment according to a selected comfort profile; FIGS. 2A-B illustrate a block diagram schematic of a vehicle which includes an interior which further includes a set of interior positions in which various occupants can be located, and at least one sensor device which can monitor one or more of the occupants in the vehicle interior.
A vehicle interior may include one or more user interfaces, including one or more manual driving control interfaces (e.g., steering device, throttle control device, brake control device), display interfaces, multimedia interfaces, climate control interfaces, some combination thereof, or the like.
Advanced Sensors & Navigation Systems
Vehicle #100 noted in FIG. 1 includes a set of one or more external sensor devices which can monitor one or more aspects of an external environment relative to the vehicle. Such sensors can include camera devices, video recording devices, infrared sensor devices, radar devices, depth cameras which can include light-scanning devices including LIDAR devices, precipitation sensor devices, ambient wind sensor devices, ambient temperature sensor devices, chemical sensors which monitor the atmosphere of the vehicle interior for the presence of one or more chemical substances, position-monitoring devices which can include one or more global navigation satellite system devices (e.g., GPS, BeiDou (Chinese satellite navigation system), DORIS, Galileo, GLONASS, etc.), some combination thereof, or the like.
Monitoring Occupant Stress Levels and Making Adjustments
In some embodiments, the Autonomous Navigation System (ANS) #110 of FIG. 1 can monitor stress levels of one or more occupants based on monitoring one or more observable features of one or more occupants, including one or more of occupant eye movement, occupant body posture, occupant body gestures, occupant pupil dilation, occupant eye blinking, occupant body temperature, occupant heartbeat, occupant perspiration, occupant head position, etc.
Based on monitoring a stress level of one or more occupants, also referred to herein as occupant feedback, the ANS can determine adjustments (or updates) of one or more comfort profiles according to which the ANS can generate control element signals to cause control elements (#112 of FIG. 1) to navigate the vehicle along a particular driving route.
Creating a "Driving Style"
Apple notes that based on the driving control parameters included in a selected comfort profile, module #124 of FIG. 1 is configured to navigate the vehicle according to a driving "style" which corresponds to a selected comfort profile.
Generating control element commands based on driving control parameters of a comfort profile can be referred to as navigating a vehicle according to a driving "style" specified by the parameter values of the various driving control parameters included in a selected comfort profile. The comfort profile can be selected based on the occupancy of the vehicle so that the driving "style" via which the vehicle is navigated by module #124 provides a personalized driving experience which is tailored to the specific occupancy of the vehicle, including the identities, occupant types, positions, and monitored feedback of the occupants.
Apple's Patent FIG. 1 also includes module #122 which is able to monitor one or more occupants of a vehicle interior, determine one or more of a position of an occupant within the vehicle interior, an identity of an occupant and a particular occupant type.
This particular module can determine an occupant identity based on facial recognition, which can include comparing one or more monitored features of a monitored occupant's face with a set of stored facial recognition data associated with a particular known occupant identity and determining a correlation between the monitored features and the stored facial recognition data associated with the known occupant identity.
The module can further determine an occupant type which can include one or more of a human adult occupant, a human occupant associated with a particular age range, an animal, a human male occupant, a human female occupant, some combination thereof, etc., based on correlating a sensor data representations of the occupant with one or more sets of stored occupant type data associated with one or more particular occupant types. As used herein, a sensor data representation of an occupant can include a captured image of one or more portions of the occupant.
Personal data can be used to determine a comfort profile via which to navigate a vehicle based on detecting an occupant and determining a comfort profile associated with the detected occupant. Accordingly, use of such personal data enables users to influence and control how a vehicle is navigated.
Entities responsible for the collection, analysis, disclosure, transfer, storage, or other use of such personal data should comply with established privacy policies and/or practices. Such entities should safeguard and secure access to such personal data and ensure that others with access to the personal data also comply. Such entities should implement privacy policies and practices that meet or exceed industry or governmental requirements for maintaining the privacy and security of personal data. For example, an entity should collect users' personal data for legitimate and reasonable uses, and not share or sell the data outside of those legitimate uses. Such collection should occur only after receiving the users' informed consent. Furthermore, third parties can evaluate these entities to certify their adherence to established privacy policies and practices.
Comfort Profile Database
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below illustrates a block diagram schematic of a comfort profile database, according to some embodiments. The comfort profile database #300 illustrated can be included in any of the embodiments of comfort profile modules including the comfort profile module #125 shown in FIG. 1.
A specified driving style includes a set of driving control parameters, each specifying a separate parameter value, which collectively specifies a style via which a vehicle is to be navigated. A navigation control module which autonomously navigates a vehicle according to a comfort profile can generate control element commands which cause the vehicle to be navigated along a driving route according to the various parameter values of the various driving control parameters included in the comfort profile, such that the vehicle is navigated according to the "driving style" specified by the comfort profile.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 illustrates monitoring occupancy of a vehicle interior and generating a comfort profile based on vehicle navigation concurrent with the monitored vehicle occupants.
And lastly, Apple notes that the comfort profile of a user could be set and stored on a user's computer which could range from an iPhone to a Mac and on through to a server.
Apple's patent application was originally filed with the European Patent Office back in Q1 2017 and published in Europe on July 18, 2018. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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