Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has filed for a patent (number US 20240034272 A1) for “User-to-Vehicle Interaction.”
About the patent filing
The patent filing relates generally to user-to-vehicle interaction, and more specifically to techniques for accessing a vehicle using a user device. In the patent filing, Apple notes that since autonomous (self-driving) vehicles don’t require human drivers, so “novel techniques for interaction” between the vehicle and passenger are helpful.
Apple’s patent filing involves techniques for accessing a vehicle. It also involves techniques for receiving information from passengers such as setting desired destinations and/or other vehicle controls.
Summary of the patent filing
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “A transit request is initiated, which requests dispatch of a vehicle to a location of the electronic device. Information, including authentication information, is received and a communication channel is established with the vehicle.”
When might we see an Apple Car?
Don’t expect an Apple-branded vehicle anytime soon — especially a self-driving one. Apple will purportedly roll out a “scaled down” Apple Car in 2028, according to a January 23 Bloomberg article by Mark Gurman.
“Apple Inc. is reaching a make-or-break point in its decade-old effort to build a car, has pivoted to a less ambitious design with the intent of finally bringing an electric vehicle to market,” he writes. “After previously envisioning a truly driverless car, the company is now working on an EV with more limited features, according to people with knowledge of the project.”
Apple had originally hoped to debut a long-in-the-works Apple Car in 2026, but plans and personnel on the project have changed multiple times. If the company can’t debut an electric vehicle with the feature set it wants, executives may “seriously reconsider the project’s existence,” Gurman writes.
The Apple Car project — dubbed (at least at onetime) Project: Titan — has had a tumultuous history. For example, in July 2021 it was announced that Apple Vice President of Technology Kevin Lynch would take a role in leading the development of the Apple Car. This happened after Doug Field, who had headed the project, left Apple for Ford.
Lynch joined Apple in 2013 after working as the chief technology officer of Adobe Systems. He has been responsible for, among other things, developing the Apple Watch software.
In 2016, Apple convinced Bob Mansfield, former Senior Vice President of Technologies, to come out of retirement to run Project Titan. However, he retired again in 2020 with (at that point) John Giannandrea, Apple’s senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy, assuming command of Project Titan.