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Apple has Won Two Project Titan Patents covering Systems for next-gen safety belts and Real-Time Depth sensing

1 cover Project Titan ToF SYSTEM

 

As the buzz of rumors about Apple's Project Titan possibly coming to life over the next five to seven years continues to hit the news, Apple's patents continue to show us the projects that their teams are actually working on.

 

Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple two Project Titan patents relating to semi and fully autonomous vehicles. The first covers a next-gen safety belt system with multiple controls to provide users with the ability to find the ultimate fit. The second patent relates to an advanced real-time depth sensing system that could be hidden in the vehicle's headlight box. Images from the sensors could be superimposed on the windshield.

 

Existing occupant safety systems for traditional, one- two- or three-row vehicles, such as restraints including safety belts, can reduce the risk of injury during a collision.

 

Safety belts typically include one or more anchors that secure the safety belts to the vehicle seat and that provide directional guidance for positioning the strap on the occupant's body as the latch is inserted into the receiver.

 

The one or more anchors are typically stationary and disposed at predetermined positions on the vehicle seat. Accordingly, if the safety belt secures the occupant to the vehicle seat in an undesirable manner, the occupant cannot adjust the location or position of the one or more anchors in order to adjust how the strap is positioned on the occupant's body.

 

Additionally, it may be difficult to locate the latch. For example, the latch may become lodged between portions of the vehicle seat and may be difficult to locate or retrieve in order to operate the safety belt. Accordingly, new approaches to safety belt positioning and presentation systems are desirable.

 

Next-Gen Safety Belt System

 

Apple's granted patent provides an improved safety belt positioning and presentation systems that includes selectively positionable safety belt anchors and a safety belt presenter.

 

The safety belt anchors are selectively positionable vertically and horizontally relative to a seat back of a vehicle seat. Additionally, or alternatively, the safety belt anchors are jointly positionable and independently positionable with respect to one another.

 

The use of these features allows for an occupant of the vehicle to adjust a position of a safety belt strap such that the safety belt strap is desirably positioned on the occupant's body when the safety belt is in operation.

 

The safety belt presenter is adapted to retain a safety belt latch and to transition the safety belt latch from a first position to a second position such that the safety belt latch is presented to the occupant of the vehicle for use in operating the safety belt.

 

The use of these features allows for an occupant of the vehicle to adjust a position of a safety belt strap such that the safety belt strap is desirably positioned on the occupant's body when the safety belt is in operation and to consistently and easily locate the safety belt latch for use in operating the safety belt.

 

Apple's patent FIGS. 1A and 1C generally illustrate a motion diagram of a safety belt positioning system.

 

2 Project Titan next-gen seatbelt system

 

Review Apple's granted patent 10,889,261 for finer details.

 

Vehicle Real-Time Depth Sensing

 

Apple's second Project Titan granted patent relates to a hybrid system with a structured-light stereo device and a time-of-flight (ToF) device for real-time depth sensing.

 

High resolution, range and reflectance measurement is valuable for a wide range of applications. A number of remote sensing methodologies can be used to gather depth information using various sensors and measurements but the resolution of the sensors and measurements over varying distances and varying conditions impact accuracy.

 

Apple's invention provides a hybrid system with a structured-light stereo device (also referred to as a device that provides laser triangulation or structured-light pattern projection) and a time-of-flight device for real-time depth sensing that can determine more accurate range and reflectance measurements.

 

The hybrid system provides high resolution, real-time depth sensing that can be used by automated systems for a wide range of applications including but not limited to autonomous vehicles, robotics, and industrial manufacturing.

 

For example, the real-time depth sensing of the hybrid system can by an automated system to make a control decision that affects operation of the automated systems, such as a control decision to start operation of the automated system, a control decision to stop operation of the automated system, or a control decision that affects motion of the automated system (e.g., by accelerating, decelerating, or turning. The hybrid system enables the enhanced measurement of range/depth and reflectivity of a scene and associated objects through simultaneous application of multiple modalities (i.e., depth measurements/pixels are determined using the structured-light stereo device and time of flight measurements/pixels are determined using the time-of-flight device).

 

The hybrid system can be incorporated into the space typically occupied by each headlight on the front of a vehicle (e.g., manually operated, semi-autonomous, fully autonomous, or any combination thereof).

 

Placing the hybrid system into the headlight space allows for the incorporation of less noticeable apertures that are still large by leveraging the lens systems of the headlights of current vehicles.

 

These headlight lens systems are less noticeable in comparison to systems mounted on the top of the vehicle, so there is less of a need to hide the system compared with other placement options such as on the vehicle's roof.

 

The hybrid system can be incorporated into the common aperture headlight system of the vehicle to take advantage of Helmholtz reciprocity in which the reflective/scattering properties do not depend on the directionality of the incident light.

 

Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a diagram illustrating an example of a vehicle using real-time depth sensing; FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating a display of a superimposed combination of the depth measurements and the time-of-flight measurements.

 

3 Project Titan ToF SYSTEM

 

For more details, review Apple's granted patent 10,891,745.

 

10.52FX - Granted Patent Bar

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