Apple wins a Project Titan patent relating to a visibility system that assists drivers see important road signs in poor weather conditions
Earlier this morning Patently Apple posted a rumor report from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo regarding Project Titan. Today also happens to be Granted Patent day and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to Apple's Project Titan. More specifically, the patent covers a visibility system for vehicles designed to assist drivers in viewing key road signs in poor weather conditions such as snow, fog dust, smog.
Visibility of vehicles on the road is paramount to safety of drivers. In low visibility conditions (e.g., fog, dust, snow or smog), a driver's inability to see other vehicles or road hazards increases the risk of a collision. Vehicles can mitigate the risk of collision by utilizing additional systems such as radar systems, vision-based cameras and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) cameras. Certain road or weather conditions can affect the effectiveness of these systems, such as water vapor absorbing or scattering light, thereby reducing proper detection of vehicles. The effectiveness of these systems can be improved by improving detectability of the vehicles.
Apple's granted patent covers a retroreflector system that includes a plurality of retroreflectors is disclosed herein. The plurality of retroreflectors is configured to reflect a radar signal, a light, a lidar signal, or any other type of signal to a respective signal source. The plurality of retroreflectors may be at least partially embedded in an outer body panel of a vehicle. The outer body panel is configured to allow the radar signal to pass through to the plurality of retroreflectors.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below illustrates a plurality of retroreflectors configured to reflect a signal in low visibility conditions.
More specifically, FIG. 2 illustrates a retroreflector system (#200) having a road sign (#210) configured to provide information to a vehicle (#220). The retroreflector system may include an outer body panel (#202) and a plurality of retroreflectors (#204). The outer body panel may be coupled to or embedded in a landmark, such as a road sign. The plurality of retroreflectors may be at least partially embedded in the outer body pane.
The road sign may include text (#212 'Speed Limit 45') that indicates information that is useful to drivers, the information including, but not limited to, a speed limit, a stop sign, an advisory sign, a road condition warning, a distance marker, a restriction warning, a direction indicator, a street name, a route marker, a road identifier, a parking zone marker, an interest landmark, an emergency warning, a crosswalk sign, a school zone marker, a wildlife indicator, or any combination thereof.
In some embodiments, the signal source (#222) may include an optical sensor, such as a camera, to read the text on the road sign. However, the camera may not be able to read the text 212 when a low visibility condition 240, such as fog, rain, snow, ice, nighttime, dirt, mud, a dust storm, haze, smog or any other visibly obstructive condition.
The signal source 222 may include a radar device configured to emit the signal 224. The signal 224 may include a radar signal which may include a radio frequency component. The low visibility condition 240 may be transparent to the radar signal based on the radio frequency component being configured to permeate physical or visual obstructions with little to no signal degradation.
For finer details and more patent figures, review Apple's granted patent 10,908,328.
Another Project Titan related granted patent was published today under number 10,909, 389 titled "Traffic Direction Gesture Recognition." Patently Apple first covered this as a patent application back in March 2018 that you could review here. Below is one of the patent figures from that report.