Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 11580859 B1) for “vehicle lane change.”
About the patent
In the patent Apple notes that automated vehicle control systems are being developed that take on more and more of the work of maneuvering a vehicle. Automated vehicle control systems are able to access and integrate a wealth of information that is practically unavailable to human operators, such as data from a variety of sensors or communications received from other vehicles or traffic control systems, which fundamentally changes the vehicle control problem and provides an opportunity to automatically maneuver vehicles in a far safer and more efficient manner.
However, Apple says that “the real world is highly complex and it is challenging to design automated control systems that can robustly handle the wide variety of scenarios that may be encountered on a road with other automated and/or human operated vehicles.” The tech giant wants an Apple Car to overcome such limitations.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “Systems and methods for vehicle lane change control are described. Some implementations may include determining a kinematic state of a vehicle moving in an origin lane; detecting, based on data from one or more sensors of the vehicle, objects that are moving in a target lane of the road; determining a headway constraint in terms of a preparation time, a preparation acceleration to be applied to the vehicle during the preparation time, and an execution time during which the vehicle is to transition from the origin lane to the target lane; determining values of the preparation time, the execution time, and the preparation acceleration subject to a set of constraints including the headway constraint; and determining a motion plan that will transition the vehicle from the origin lane to the target lane based at least in part on the preparation time, the execution time, and the preparation acceleration.”
When might we see an Apple Car?
Apple has scaled back its “ambitious” plans for a self-driving electric car and postponed the launch date back a year to 2026, reports Bloomberg.
The article says that Apple plans to sell a consumer “Apple Car” for “under” $100,000. Other points from the article:
° Apple wanted its vehicle to come without a steering wheel or pedals, but has decided that such a plan isn’t feasible at this time.
° The Apple Car will have guided driving features that work on highways, but won’t be fully autonomous.
° Apple currently plans to develop a vehicle that lets drivers conduct other tasks — say, watch a movie or play a game — on a freeway and be alerted with ample time to switch over to manual control if they reach city streets or encounter inclement weather.
° It will sport an Apple-designed custom processor to power AI (artificial intelligence) functionality.
° It will use the cloud for some AI processing.
° Apple might offer a remote command center that could assist drivers and control cars from afar during emergencies.
° Apple may also offer its own insurance program.
° Apple still hasn’t dialed in on a design for its first vehicle and the team is still working in a “pre-prototype” stage.