Apple Wins a 'Project Titan' Patent relating to an advanced Hazard Detection Sensor system for Vehicles
Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled "A Credible Report is claiming that Sources have seen Apple's Next-Gen Vehicle Battery Technology that is described as 'Radical.'" The report covered a new monocell battery technology that could distinguish the Apple Car from their competitors. Our report further noted that Apple's work on their possible future vehicle is ongoing with almost weekly revelations of new advancements for autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Once again, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple yet another "Project Titan" patent that relates to a vehicle having an advanced hazard detection sensor system built into both the front and rear of a vehicle.
Apple's granted patent first supplies the background of their patent so as to better understand what solution Apple's invention presents. Apple notes that road vehicles use external ultrasonic sensors for obstacle detection. These sensors provide a static acoustic detection field to identify obstacles within the field of view of the ultrasonic sensor.
Conventionally, the protection zone afforded (the volume within the field of view of the ultrasonic sensors and, thereby, the volume within which obstacles may be detected) by the external ultrasonic sensors may extend from a vehicle bumper outward to a few meters and from slightly below the bumper to a level typically about even with the tail lights or the bumper itself.
A conventional ultrasonic sensor that may provide such a protection zone has a field of view that is conventionally 45.degree. in the vertical plane and 75.degree. in the horizontal plane.
Such conventional sensor arrangements, however, are limited in range and limited in vertical coverage. Extending the range often comes at the cost of horizontal or vertical coverage.
Apple's solution covers a sensor that includes a housing supporting a first ultrasonic transceiver positioned adjacent a second ultrasonic transceiver. The sensors may be positioned in a vertical or horizontal orientation (relative to the intended mounted position of the sensor).
Additional sensors may be provided, as well, such as in a two.times.two sensor array. Returning to the example sensor with a first and a second transceiver, a waveform generator is coupled with the first ultrasonic transceiver and the second ultrasonic transceiver and configured to provide a waveform for driving the first ultrasonic transceiver and the second ultrasonic transceiver.
Further, an echo detector is coupled with the first ultrasonic transceiver and the second ultrasonic transceiver.
Further, the sensor includes a first controllable phase delay element positioned to receive the waveform from the waveform generator and provide a phase delayed waveform to the first ultrasonic waveform. It is also possible to provide a reference (no delay waveform) to the first transceiver, and to vary the phase delay of the common waveform to the second ultrasonic transceiver.
Further, the phase delay may be sequenced to sweep or step the ultrasonic signal through an arc, which may be vertical, horizontal, or otherwise depending on how the sensor is positioned and/or how the transducers are relatively positioned and how waveform is delayed or advanced between the transducers.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below is a side view of a vehicle having a hazard detection sensor at the front of the vehicle and at the back of the vehicle and configured to detect objects in the front and rear, the hazard detection sensor at the front of the vehicle operating with both transceivers in phase and the hazard detection sensor at the rear of the vehicle operating with the transceivers 180.degree. out of phase, in one embodiment.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 above is a side view of a vehicle operating with a hazard detection sensor at the front of the vehicle, the hazard detection sensor scanning through a vertical arc by sequencing the phase delay between two transceivers to steer the scanning beam upwardly and downwardly, in one embodiment; FIG. 8 is an example computing system that may implement various systems and methods of the presently disclosed technology.
Review Apple's granted patent 10,871,555 for finer details.