Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,377,066) for “safety systems for reclined seats.”
Should the rumored vehicle ever see the light of day, it will almost certainly be an electric car that’s at least partially self-driving. This would allow passengers to recline their seats — and Apple wants them to be able to do so while taking advantage of a safety features needed in a moving vehicle.
About the patent
In the patent, the tech giant says that conventional restraints can include retractors that couple an anchor and belt material to secure an occupant to a seat and to control or limit up-down or z-direction motion of the restrained occupant during certain vehicle events such as rapid decelerations or imminent collisions.
Conventional restraints are designed to effect this up-down control for a typical range of seat back positions consistent with upright vehicle operation, that is, positions where a recline angle between a seat back and a seat pan is limited, for example, under 30 degrees.
Apple says that, however, design innovations related to interior features within a vehicle cabin are possible. For example, modular interior elements can include seat systems that can be arranged into a configuration consistent with the vehicle cabin serving as a mobile office, a living room, or a relaxation space.
In new seating arrangements, occupants may spend time with seat backs partially or full reclined, that is, at a variety of recline angles beyond those typical to conventional vehicle operation. Apple says that pProtecting occupants seated and secured to seat with a higher angle of rotation or recline between the seat pan and the seat back, that is, in deep recline, is a current challenge for safety system designers, as higher recline angles can increase a risk of submarining of an occupant secured to a seat under a variety of vehicle events, such as when the vehicle experiences high rates of acceleration or deceleration or is involved in a collision.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “safety system includes a restraint configured to secure an occupant to a seat, an anchor coupled to the restraint and movable along an anchor guide, an anchor energy-absorbing (EA) device configured to control movement of the anchor along the anchor guide, and a controller that includes a processor configured to receive information indicative of an imminent vehicle event, receive information indicative of a recline angle of the seat being above a recline threshold, and send a command to enable the anchor to move along the anchor guide under control of the anchor EA device based on the information indicative of the imminent vehicle event and the recline angle being above the recline threshold.”
When might we see an Apple Car?
On. Nov. 18, 2021, 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.