Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,262,762) for “non-solid object monitoring” in a vehicle.
About the patent
In the patent filing, Apple notes that the rise of interest in autonomous navigation of vehicles, has resulted in a desire to develop autonomous navigation systems which can autonomously navigate (i.e., autonomously “drive”) a vehicle through various routes, including one or more roads in a road network, such as contemporary roads, streets, highways, etc., one or more instances of airspace, waterways, etc.
In some cases, autonomous navigation is enabled via an autonomous navigation system (ANS) which can process and respond to detection of various elements in an external environment, including static features (e.g., roadway lanes, road signs, etc.) and dynamic features (present locations of other vehicles in a roadway on which the route extends, present locations of pedestrians, present environmental conditions, roadway obstructions, etc.) along a route in real-time as they are encountered, thereby replicating the real-time processing and driving capabilities of a human being.
In othercases, autonomous navigation includes navigating a vehicle in response to detection of one or more objects located in the environment through which the vehicle is being navigated. For example, where another vehicle is detected ahead of the navigated vehicle and is determined to be moving slower than the navigated vehicle, such that the navigated vehicle is approaching the other vehicle, the navigated vehicle can be slowed or stopped.
In still another example, where a pedestrian is identified near an edge of the roadway along which the vehicle is being navigated, the vehicle can be slowed or stopped in response to detection of the pedestrian.
Sometimes sensors included in a vehicle are structured to detect and characterize solid objects in the external environment. For example, a vehicle can include one or more radars, ultrasonic sensors, light beam scanning devices, visible light camera devices, infrared camera devices, near-infrared camera devices, depth camera devices that can include one or more light-scanning devices, including LIDAR devices, etc. and an ANS which detects and characterizes objects in the environment based on reflection of radar waves, ultrasonic waves, light beams, etc. from solid surfaces of the objects in the environment.
Apple wants to make an Apple Car sensors as effective as possible to prevent damage to passengers, pedestrians, and the vehicle itself.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent with technical details: “An autonomous navigation system may autonomously navigate a vehicle through an environment in which one or more non-solid objects, including gaseous and/or liquid objects, are located. Sensors, including sensors which can detect chemical substances in a region of the environment, may detect non-solid objects independently of an opacity of the objects. Non-solid objects may be determined to present an obstacle or interference based on determined chemical composition, size, position, velocity, concentration, etc. of the objects.
“The vehicle may be autonomously navigated to avoid non-solid objects based on positions, trajectories, etc. of the non-solid objects. The vehicle may be navigated according to avoidance driving parameters to avoid non-solid objects, and a navigation system may characterize a non-solid object as a solid object having dimensions and position which encompasses the non-solid object, so that the vehicle is navigated in avoidance of non-solid objects as if the non-solid objects were solid.”
When might we see an Apple Car?
On. Nov. 18, Bloomberg reported that Apple is accelerating development on its “Apple Car.” The article says the electric vehicle will be self-driving and could roll out in 2025.
What’s more, in a note to clients — as noted by AppleInsider — investment bank Wedbush says Apple is likely to announce a strategic electric vehicle partnership in 2022 to lay the groundwork for an “Apple Car” release in 2025.