Apple Car may use external screen to prompt other drivers

An Apple Car can give other drivers detailed warnings of their actions by using LED screens throughout the vehicle to let other drivers know what the self-driving system is doing.

Apple’s long-rumored vehicle is speculated to include some form of self-driving technology, given that Apple has been testing it on public roads for years. While Apple’s testing appears to be focused on reading the road and responding to conditions, there are other driving features the inbound system has to deal with.

One of the problems is signaling to other drivers what the vehicle will do next. Unlike obtaining a small clue to the driver’s forward silhouette to see where they are about to go, or other minor driving actions, there may not be equal opportunity for contextual clues if the driver encounters a driverless vehicle. have to do.

In a patent granted Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office titled “Exterior Lighting and Warning System,” Apple proposes that it may be more clear about what a self-driving system can tell other road users. Instead of the usual array of simple indicator lights, Apple believes it can do the same thing using more complex lighting.

In a nutshell, Apple’s system involves building displays that are placed on and around the vehicle, potentially as an omnipresent strip of lights. This tall display can show a variety of information to other road users, not just whether the brakes are applied or whether they want to travel left or right.

An example of an informational light bar that surrounds a self-driving vehicle.

This may include more detailed braking information, relative speed of the car, speed of the car behind, countdown timers for actions, and other messages. They can be text, but can also include graphics and video.

For drivers who park the vehicle, the display may show a goodbye message, or welcome the user upon arrival in the vehicle.

Originally filed on October 24, 2018, the patent named its inventors Clarice Mazuet, Arthur Y. Zhang, Albert J. Golko, Bivin J. Varghese, Christopher P. Child, Colin J. Palmer, Daniel E. Potter, and Thaddeus Stefanov. – Wagner.

The latest patent is a follow-up to a previous patent of the same name, which was granted on October 30, 2018 with the same inventors. While that initial patent covered the idea of ​​outward-facing indicator signals, the new patent largely deals with the techniques used to create the signals.

On a transparent substrate the LEDs may be visible when illuminated, transparent when off.

On a transparent substrate the LEDs may be visible when illuminated, transparent when off.

For example, one variant consists of a display consisting of LEDs placed on a transparent substrate. When mounted on the body or rear window, it will allow the display to be seen, and will only be visible when the LEDs are lit.

Alternative ways of doing the same thing include using a light source emitting light to a light guide, or mirrors to reflect light off the vehicle.

Apple files several patent applications on a weekly basis, but the existence of the patent indicates areas of interest for Apple’s research and development efforts, but they do not guarantee that the idea will appear in a future product or service. .

This is far from the only light-focused patent related to Apple Cars, and a large number relating to car designs.

For the outside of the vehicle, Apple’s February 2020 patent for a “System and Method for Light and Image Projection” provides for a headlight that highlights the part of the road a driver should be paying attention to, such as the side of the road. signs or obstacles.

Inside the car, a privacy-based variable lighting system can combine the use of narrow light bands with window filters that block specific light bands, allowing occupants to see each other, but not outside of the vehicle. Prevents people outside from seeing the light.

Apple has also thought about adding lighting to the seats, telling passengers how to use the seat controls, and instructing them to buckle.

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