Apple Reinvents a Vehicle's Headlight System that Focuses on Illuminating Objects & Advances a Live Windshield
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to Project Titan. More specifically, the invention relates to the reinvention of a headlight system from a basic light bulb system to a smart, machine learning based system that could recognize specific object to highlight to provide drivers with better vision at night and especially during times of fog and/or rain. The system is also able to recognize humans at a distance by projecting dots of light onto subjects much like Apple uses a dot projector for Face ID but on a massive scale. Apple also notes that in some applications, a live Windshield system in the form of a HUD may be used instead of relying on a lighting system alone.
Apple's Patent Background
Many governing bodies require headlights to be installed and operational on many types of vehicles, such as automobiles, bicycles, trains, aircraft, and the like. Typically, the headlight is attached to the front of the vehicle and shines a uniform light onto the road or other surface in front of the vehicle. Many headlights utilize a light source (such as a light bulb) placed near the focus of a reflector of parabolic shape that reflects the lights through a forward-facing lens to guide the light beam to illuminate the road surface in front of the vehicle. Further, some headlight constructions may include a low beam setting and a high beam setting. However, traditional headlights often fail to properly illuminate the scene in front of the vehicle in particular circumstances, such as rural roads with little to no street light presence and in rainy or foggy conditions. It is with these and other issues in mind that various aspects of the present disclosure were developed.
Light and Image Projection System for Vehicles
A Project Titan Invention covers a method for illuminating a field of view for a vehicle. The method includes the operations receiving scene information of the field of view for the vehicle from one or more sensors in communication with a light controller, analyzing the scene information to detect the presence of an object in the field of view, and classifying the object using the scene information and a database of known object profiles. The method may also include the operations of predicting a location of the classified object within the field of view of the vehicle and projecting, utilizing the light controller, an illuminated indicator at the predicted location of the classified object in the field of view of the vehicle.
Another implementation of the present disclosure may take the form of a method for controlling a contrast in an illuminated scene.
Yet another implementation of the present disclosure may take the form of system for illuminating a field of view for a vehicle. The system comprises a projection system projecting light onto the field of view of the vehicle, a sensor to detect objects within the field of view of vehicle, and a computing device executing one or more instructions that cause the computing device to perform operations.
The projection may be utilized to highlight particular areas within the field of illumination of the headlight. For example, the light source may be oriented or otherwise controlled to highlight a detected object in or near the path of travel of a vehicle.
Such objects may include potential obstacles in the roadway in front of the vehicle, objects or beings off the road with the potential for entering the vehicle's path of travel, notable conditions of the road, and the like.
In another example, the headlight system may be controlled to adjust the contrast across the field of view of the headlight. For example, a particular portion within the field of view of the headlight, such as a reflective traffic sign or reflective tape on a roadway, may be illuminated brighter than other portions within the field of view. In other words, more light may be projected on certain objects in the scene than other objects in the scene.
In traditional headlight systems, a uniform light is projected from the headlight onto the scene. By controlling the contrast across the field of view of the headlight, portions of the field of view may be highlighted or have more light projected onto them than other portions in the field of view.
The portions of the field of view with a higher contrast or with more light projected onto them may be determined from information received about the field of view of the headlight from one or more sensors. Further, in one embodiment, the high contrast portions may also be selectable by a user of the vehicle based on the user's preferences. Through the control of the headlight system, an enhanced viewing experience for a user or driver of the vehicle may be obtained to increase the enjoyment and ease of the operation of the vehicle by the driver.
Apple's patent FIG. 14A presented above illustrates an example #1402 of the application of a contrast control illumination to a lane marker without the use of the Cornsweet effect. A graph #1406 of the intensity of the illumination of the scene #1402 is provided in FIG. 14A and an illustration of the effect of the contrast control illumination on a lane marker of a road. As shown in graph #1406, the illumination is low or zero on the portions of the road that are black and higher on the lane marker.
As shown in graph #1408, the illumination is low on the portions of the road that are black and higher on the lane marker.
Apple's patent FIG. 12 below is a diagram illustrating a second approach for a dynamic volumetric headlight utilizing a titled focal plane; FIG. 13 is a diagram illustrating a third approach for a dynamic volumetric headlight utilizing wavefront phase manipulation.
Apples patent FIG. 6 below is a diagram illustrating projecting an image with a contrast control feature on a plurality of portions of the field of view of the headlight.
Apple's patent FIG. 9 presented above is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary light control system.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 below is a diagram illustrating projecting an image into a field of view of a vehicle to aid a driver in operating the vehicle.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a flowchart of a method for adjusting a headlight of a vehicle based on information received from one or more sensors.
Lastly, Apple's new illumination headlight system may also utilize a future Heads-up-Display windshield, which Patently Apple first covered last month in a report titled "Apple Invents an Augmented Reality Windshield that will even Support FaceTime Calls between Different Vehicles."
In today's published patent application, Apple notes that the response to a detected object or other light projection circumstance described above may not involve a projected light or image from a headlight. Rather, an image or light may be projected onto a heads-up display (HUD) visible by the driver of the vehicle.
For example, images and other information may be projected onto the interior or exterior surface of the windshield of the vehicle.
In another example, the HUD may be a helmet or other wearable device that includes a surface onto which an image may be projected or shown. In this embodiment, when an object is detected by the system, the object may be highlighted on the HUD as the driver is looking through the HUD at the object. This aspect of the invention relates to a more in-depth patent application that we covered back in March titled "Patent of the Decade: Apple Reveals an Unbelievable VR Experience System for Next-Gen Autonomous Vehicles."
In another example, the projected image of the "next step" in a series of navigation instructions may be displayed or projected onto the HUD. Thus, the determined images or illuminations discussed herein as projected onto the road may also or otherwise be projected onto a HUD visible by the driver of the vehicle.
Apple's patent application was filed back in May 2018 and published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Some of Apple's inventors include: Clarisse Mazuir, Technology Development Leader, Sensors and Lighting; Ricardo (Silveira) Cabralm stationed in Canton of Zürich, Switzerland, Engineering Manager working in Special Projects Groups focusing on Computer Vision, Machine Learning, Robotics for Autonomous Systems; and Matisse Milovich, Technologist.
One More Thing: 'The AppleWorld.Today' blog covering this Apple patent today has this byline: "Apple patent filing involves Apple Car, Apple Bike, Apple Boat, Apple Plane headlights."
No, there's no mention of a plane except for the context of a "focal plane." No, there's no bike. The context is "pedestrian or biker." And for boat, the word doesn't even appear in the patent application at all.
The byline from AppleWorld.Today covering this patent was simply to attract clicks. It's dishonest and completely unprofessional to invent a misleading byline.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications and/or granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Those using abusive language or negative behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.