Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,451,425) for an “autonomous navigation system.” It’s one of dozens of patents the company has filed for, or been granted, for a self-driving vehicle.
In the patent info, Apple notes that the rise of interest autonomous navigation of vehicles, including automobiles, has resulted in a desire to develop autonomous navigation systems that can autonomously drive a vehicle through various routes, including one or more roads in a road network, such as contemporary roads, streets, highways, etc. However, the company says that systems that can enable autonomous navigation, also referred to as autonomous driving, of a vehicle can be less than ideal. The company thinks it can do better.
Here’s the summary of the patent: “Some embodiments provide an autonomous navigation system which enables autonomous navigation of a vehicle along one or more portions of a driving route based on monitoring, at the vehicle, various features of the route as the vehicle is manually navigated along the route to develop a characterization of the route. The characterization is progressively updated with repeated manual navigations along the route, and autonomous navigation of the route is enabled when a confidence indicator of the characterization meets a threshold indication.
“Characterizations can be updated in response to the vehicle encountering changes in the route and can include a set of driving rules associated with the route, where the driving rules are developed based on monitoring the navigation of one or more vehicles of the route. Characterizations can be uploaded to a remote system which processes data to develop and refine route characterizations and provide characterizations to one or more vehicles.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.