Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,657,819) for “external communications for vehicles” designed to make self-driving/autonomous cars safer.
In the patent filing, Apple says that, in a vehicle operated by a human driver, the driver’s intentions may be conveyed to other individuals, such as other drivers and pedestrians, through a combination of driver-directed vehicular signals (e.g., horn, turn indicator, flashing headlights) and physical signals such as hand gestures or eye contact.
However, in a semi- or fully-autonomous vehicle, in which the driver’s attention may not be fully engaged in the operation of the vehicle, other vehicles and pedestrians may lack awareness of the intended actions of the autonomous vehicle. Apple’s idea is a vehicle that includes: various sensors that detect, motion, light, or sound; computer processors that react to sensor input; and more.
Here’s the summary of the invention: “Methods, apparatuses, and non-transitory computer readable storage media for external vehicle communication are described. A method for external vehicle communication may include determining a vehicular path for a vehicle and an extra-vehicular path for an extra-vehicular object external to the vehicle, the vehicular path based on vehicle state data including a vehicle velocity and a vehicle orientation, the extra-vehicular path based on extra-vehicular state data including an object velocity and an object orientation of the extra-vehicular object; determining when the vehicular path will intercept the extra-vehicular path based on the vehicle state data and the extra-vehicular state data; determining an object identity for the extra-vehicular object and a distance between the vehicle and the extra-vehicular object; and generating at least one external communication based on the object identity when the distance between the vehicle and the extra-vehicular object is less than a predetermined threshold distance.”