A Series of Apple Patents cover exterior Vehicle lighting and warning systems, recycling scrap aluminum for products & more
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a wide variety of patent applications from Apple and in this report, we cover exterior lighting and warning systems that will be integrated into autonomous vehicles, recycling aluminum for new devices, Apple Watch and more.
Exterior Lighting and Warning System
Apple's granted patent relates to a future autonomous vehicle that may have vehicle controls that are used in steering, braking, and accelerating the vehicle. The vehicle may have sensors that gather information on vehicle speed, orientation, and position. The sensors may also gather information on relative speed between the vehicle and a following vehicle, information on risks of a collision between a vehicle and an external object, and other vehicle status information and vehicle operating environment information.
Control circuitry may use light-based devices to display braking information, information on vehicle speed, the relative speed between a vehicle and a following vehicle, autonomous driving mode status information, custom brake light information or other user-selected information, or other information on vehicle status and the operating environment of a vehicle.
The light output may include large areas of a single color, may include text, icons, or other visual content, may include moving content, may include light of multiple colors, and may include other patterns of light.
Apple's patent FIGS. 11-13 illustrates a more communicative manner in which to convey the different levels of breaking being applied to the vehicle at any point in time; FIGS. 25 and 26 present side views of an illustrative vehicles with exterior lighting, one with added text; FIG. 27 is a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in operating a vehicle and associated systems while producing light-based warnings and other output.
In addition to displaying brake light information on the rear of the vehicle, it may be desirable to display associated information such as vehicle speed, the relative speed between a vehicle following the vehicle (sometimes referred to as a closing speed), or other information related to the status of the vehicle. If desired, vehicle speed or relative vehicle speed may be displayed textually.
In the example of FIG. 16 below, vehicle light region #110 on the rear of the vehicle has the shape of a gauge (e.g., a speedometer). The speed of the vehicle or the relative speed between a following vehicle and vehicle #10 may be displayed by arm #116 of the gauge.
Arrangements of the type shown in FIGS. 14, 15, and 16 may be used in displaying vehicle speed, closing speed, position information, and/or other information (e.g., information in addition to or instead of braking information).
The example of FIG. 21 shows how a lighting region for the vehicle such as region #126 may include icons and/or text. Text (e.g., alphanumeric characters) may contain static text information (e.g., "stopping" to indicate that the vehicle is stopping) or may contain information that is continuously updated (e.g., "current speed is 22 mph").
Non-vehicular information may also be displayed (e.g., "tornadoes in area," "fog ahead on roadway," "traffic congestion in 1 mile," etc.). Icons in region 126 may include warning symbols (e.g., warning triangles, icons that include warning information within triangular boundaries, etc.).
Apple's patent FIG. 22 above is a diagram of illustrative vehicle light output from a light-based device that displays current vehicle speed; FIG. 23 is a diagram of illustrative vehicle light output from a light-based device that displays the difference in speed between a vehicle and a following vehicle; FIG. 24 is a diagram of different illustrative user-selectable vehicle light output patterns that may be associated with a customizable vehicle light.
The lighting systems are primarily for future autonomous vehicle, though it could apply to semi-autonomous vehicles as well.
This is Apple's third patent relating to this invention. As a side note: In 2019 Apple acquired an autonomous vehicle startup by the name of Drive.ai. Their autonomous vehicles had displays attached to the body of the vehicle that would communicate different messages to pedestrians as required – similar to Apple's patent. One such display and message is illustrated below.
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It was rumored in mid-November that Apple's first Project Titan vehicle would be fully automated. Whether that will translate to commercial autonomous shuttles or taxis or a consumer car is unknown at this time.
Chris Child: Product Design Engineer – Special Projects Group. Chris came to Apple via Toyota where he worked as an Engineering Manager – Multimedia, Audio and Electrical (Lexus and Scion).
Clarisse Mazuir: Lighting and sensors lead at Apple SPG
Bivin Varghese: Manager, Special Projects Engineering Program Manager
Albert Golko: Product Development Engineering Director
Arthur Zhang: System Architecture / Technologies
Other Patents Published today
Today, the U.S. Patent Office also published a long string of Apple patent applications relating to Apple Watch and two others that may interest those interested in one of Apple's recycling initiatives and HomeKit as linked to below.
01: Titled "High Strength Recycled Aluminum from Manufacturing Scrap…"
09: Titled "Lighting User Interfaces" which relates to HomeKit UIs for controlling different lighting throughout a user's home.
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