Apple Wins Patent for Vehicle side mirrors that could Project Surrounding road imagery onto Side Windows & Windshield
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 61 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's Project Titan related patent titled "Systems for improving side-mirror functionality of a vehicle." The invention covers both driver and autonomous driving modes and side mirrors that could project images of the surrounding driving environment either on a side window or windshield. The advanced system is designed to also read important movements of the drivers face to know when to have the mirror in retracted or extended modes.
Apple's patent wasn't made public before and so we're treating this as a new patent in that the report is longer with more details.
Apple notes in their patent background that vehicles for transportation often contain side mirrors for enhancing a field of view of an operator. These side mirrors supplement the field of view by allowing the operator to access an additional field of view that encompasses a side environment of a vehicle, a rear environment of a vehicle, or combinations thereof.
Apple's invention that relates to Project Titan takes the traditional side mirror of vehicles and takes it to the next level by providing the side mirror that will provide future drivers with an adjustable profile.
The mirror is coupled to a side of a vehicle. An actuator is coupled to the mirror and configured to move the mirror between a retracted position and an extended position.
A sensor is coupled to the vehicle, and oriented to capture a facial feature of a driver. A control unit is in communication with the actuator and the sensor. The mirror is configured to be in the retracted position when the facial feature is not oriented towards the mirror.
The actuator is configured to move the mirror into the extended position when the sensor, during operation of the vehicle, captures the facial feature oriented towards the mirror.
In another aspect, the systems involve an integrated side mirror. The integrated side mirror includes a first aperture on an exterior surface of a portion of a vehicle.
The integrated side mirror also includes a second aperture on an interior surface of the portion of the vehicle. The interior surface is exposed to a cabin of the vehicle.
The integrated side mirror includes a first transmissive optic disposed in the first aperture and a second transmissive optic disposed in the second aperture. The second transmissive optic is visible to a driver.
At least one optical element is disposed along an optical path between the first transmissive optic and the second transmissive optic. The optical element(s), in combination with the first transmissive optic, has a field of view encompassing a side environment of the vehicle, a rear environment of the vehicle, or combinations thereof.
In an additional aspect, the systems involve a display system for integrating side-mirror functionality into a display image. The display system includes a sensor (e.g., a camera) having a field of view and capability for imaging at least visible light.
The field of view encompasses a side environment of a vehicle, a rear environment of the vehicle, or combinations thereof. The display system also includes an image-processing unit in communication with the sensor. The image processing unit processes images from the sensor to compile the display image. A display unit is in communication with the image-processing unit and forms the display image at a location visible to a driver.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic view of a side mirror with an adjustable profile.
Apple notes that in some embodiments, the control unit (#122 above) signals the actuator (#106) to move the mirror (#102) into the extended position (#108) when the vehicle changes lanes. In these embodiments, the vehicle may be functioning in autonomous mode, i.e., an occupant is in the vehicle but not actively controlling or driving the vehicle. In autonomous mode, such signaling by the control unit may be conducted in anticipation of a lane change, a turn, brake, or other change.
In other embodiments, the facial feature (#118) includes an eye of the driver (#120). In these embodiments, the control unit signals the actuator to move the mirror towards the extended position when a direction of gaze is oriented towards the mirror.
In other embodiments, the facial feature includes a nose of the driver. In such embodiments, the control unit signals the actuator to move the mirror towards the extended position when the nose is pointing towards the mirror.
In some embodiments, the side mirror additionally includes a proximity sensor coupled to the vehicle and positioned thereon to detect objects proximate to the side of the vehicle and/or proximate to a side-rear of the vehicle. Such objects could include other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, signposts, parking meters, and fire hydrants. Other objects are possible.
In further embodiments, the proximity sensor is selected from a group consisting of an ultrasonic sensor, a radar sensor, a LIDAR sensor, or other suitable sensor.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a schematic view, with a portion shown in cross-section, of an integrated side mirror; FIG. 3 is a schematic view of a display system for integrating side-mirror functionality into a display image.
The display system shown in FIG. 3 as #300 also includes a display unit (#320) in communication with the image-processing unit (#314). The display unit forms the display image (#302) at a location (#322) visible to the driver (#304), which may include receiving signals that represent data compiled by the image-processing unit. The location may be distinct from the display unit and the display image may be split across multiple locations.
For example, and without limitation, the display unit may be a heads-up display unit that projects the display image onto a driver's side window of the vehicle.
In a further non-limiting example, the heads-up display projects the display image onto the driver's side window and/or a front window of the vehicle.
Apple's granted patent 10,486,600 was originally filed in Q3 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Clarisse Mazuir: Apple Special Projects Group, Lighting and sensors lead
Johnny (Hyungryul) Choi: Engineering Manager
David Havskjold: Product Design Engineer. David previously worked for HP and the WebOS Project
Matthew Last: Worked at Apple as an Engineering Manager and Senior Silicon Sensing Engineer and is currently working at Waymo as a Hardware Engineer.