Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11738795 B1) for “retractable input devices” for a vehicle.
About the patent
In the patent Apple notes that traditional passenger vehicles include driver input devices for receiving driver inputs to control motion of the vehicle. Typical driver input devices include a steering wheel, an accelerator pedal, and a brake pedal for receiving the driver inputs that include steering, accelerator, and brake control inputs, respectively, from the driver.
With ongoing development of autonomous driving systems, driver inputs may not be required to control motion of the vehicle in at least some circumstances, whereas driver inputs may still be required or desired in other circumstances. For example, driver input may not be required while driving on a highway with adaptive cruise control systems, whereby accelerator and braking inputs are automated to accelerate and slow the vehicle according to radar-based sensing of other vehicles, and with lane-centering systems, whereby steering inputs are automated to maintain the vehicle in a lane.
Depending on the autonomous driving systems that are available on a given vehicle, driver input may still be required in other circumstances, such as in congested or less-controlled environments (e.g., in urban areas), or may otherwise be desired, such as when the driver simply prefers to manually control motion of the vehicle. Apple’s idea for the Apple Car is its steering wheel and foot pedals will retracted into a recess of the car’s interior when the vehicle is in self-driving mode.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A manual control system includes input devices to receive user inputs to control the system according to the user inputs when operated in a manual mode. The user input devices are movable between a first configuration to receive the user input by being physically manipulated by the user, and a second configuration in which the user input is not receivable.”
When might we see an Apple Car?
On. Nov. 18, 2021, Bloomberg reported that Apple is accelerating development on its “Apple Car.” The article says the electric vehicle will be self-driving and could roll out in 2025.
What’s more, in a note to clients — as noted by AppleInsider — investment bank Wedbush says Apple is likely to announce a strategic electric vehicle partnership in 2022 to lay the groundwork for an “Apple Car” release in 2025.