Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to make self-driving cars after BMW and Mercedes-Benz reportedly rebuffed the tech giant’s requests to hand over control of the data and design of the planned cars. A newly granted patent (number 20180164817) to Apple shows what could result from the collaboration.
The patent is dubbed “guidance of autonomous vehicles in destination vicinities using intent signals.” Signals that could be used to determine a path of a vehicle towards a particular stopping point are provided by someone authorized to provide guidance with respect to movements of the car.
Based at least in part on the signals and a data set pertaining to the external environment of the vehicle, one or more vehicular movements to be implemented to proceed along the path are identified. A directive is transmitted to the car’s control system to initiate one of the vehicular movements.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that, given the multiplicity of choices that are typically available with respect to vehicle trajectories in real-world environments, occupant input or guidance with regard to selecting vehicle trajectories (without requiring traditional steering, braking, accelerating and the like) may be extremely valuable to the motion control components of such vehicles. However, the company adds that providing interfaces for such guidance which are intuitive and easy to use, especially within environments such as parking lots for which detailed and/or accurate mapping data may not be available, may present a non-trivial challenge. Apparently, Apple thinks it’s up to the challenge.
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.
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