Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,065,931) for an “active suspension system” for a vehicle.
About the patent
In the patent data, Apple notes that road vehicles include suspension systems that support a body of the vehicle on road surfaces over which the vehicles travel. The suspension system controls vertical movement of tire and wheel assemblies relative to the body due to road disturbances, so as to maintain contact of the tire and wheel assemblies with the road surface and to provide comfort to passengers in the vehicle body.
Vertical movements of the unsprung mass due to road disturbances generally occur in a low frequency (e.g., around 3 Hz), which may be referred to primary ride. Additional vertical movements of the unsprung mass may occur in a higher frequency range due to dynamic characteristics of the unsprung mass (e.g., stiffness of the tire), which may be referred to as secondary ride or wheel hop. Apple says that typically, movements of the unsprung mass in the low and high frequency ranges are damped by passive fluid dampers, which extend and transfer force between the unsprung mass and the vehicle body. However, the tech giant has other ideas.
Summary of the patent
Here’s the abstract of the patent: “A suspension system includes a primary actuator, an inertial actuator, and a controller. The primary actuator applies force between a sprung mass and an unsprung mass of a vehicle to control movement there between.
“The inertial actuator applies force between the unsprung mass and a reaction mass to damp movement of the unsprung mass. The inertial actuator has a threshold capacity. The controller controls the primary actuator and the inertial actuator. The controller determines a required damping of the movement of the unsprung mass, and apportions the required damping between the primary actuator and the inertial actuator.”
When can we expect an Apple Car?
The status of an Apple auto is unclear. On June 2, Bloomberg reported that Apple has lost “several” top managers from its “Apple Car” project. Here’s what the report says: Apple Inc. has lost multiple top managers of its self-driving car team in recent months, a sign of attrition at the division involved in what could become an important future product.
If an Apple Car ever arrives, it probably won’t arrive until 2024 at the earliest. In fact, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t expect it until at least 2025.