Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted two patents involving such a device: one is for self-driving mode, the other for an active suspension/control system.
The retractable driver paint
Patent number 11,285,988 is for a “passenger vehicle and retractable driver input device.” Yep, a retractable driver.
Per this patent, an Apple Car would have a manual control system. However, the autonomous control system would also include a sensor for sensing an external condition and a controller that autonomously controls the drive and steering systems when the passenger vehicle is operated in an autonomous drive mode.
Of course, vehicles include driver input devices for receiving driver inputs to control motion of the vehicle. However, Apple says that, with ongoing development of autonomous driving systems, driver inputs may not be required to control motion of the vehicle in at least some circumstances, whereas driver inputs may still be required or desired in other circumstances.
For example, driver input may not be required while driving on a highway with adaptive cruise control systems. In this scenario, accelerator and braking inputs are automated to accelerate and slow the vehicle according to radar-based sensing of other vehicles, and with lane-centering systems. Steering inputs are automated to maintain the vehicle in a lane.
Apple note that depending on the autonomous driving systems that are available on a given vehicle, driver input may still be required in other circumstances, such as in congested or less-controlled environments (e.g., in urban areas), or may otherwise be desired, such as when the driver simply prefers to manually control motion of the vehicle.
Apple wants its vehicle to be able to easy transition between autonomous and manual driving modes.
The control system patent
Patent number 11,285,773 is for a control center for a car. Vehicles have traditionally included passive suspension systems by which force is transferred between wheels and a vehicle body by way of passive springs and passive dampers.
However, Apple wants its vehicle to have an active suspension system. Active suspension systems have been developed by which a characteristic of the suspension may be controlled in response to a present condition of the vehicle. The car would sport a sensing system for determining a roughness of a road surface ahead of it, and a control system that determines an operating speed according to the roughness, and operates the drive system to drive the vehicle at the operating speed over the road surface.
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.