Apple has shown us in recent months that while it may or may not be developing a self-branded vehicle right now, the tech-giant’s interest in the many concepts and technologies that would factor into building such an autonomous, self-driving vehicle like Apple Car are still very much alive.
Back in August, the company was granted a patent covering this truly futuristic sunroof and intelligent vibrating seat technology for in-cabin application. And, just days ago, it was prophesied by Apple Nostradamus, Ming-Chi Kuo, that the iPhone-maker could in fact release an Apple Car — powered in part by custom TSMC-built processors — sometime between 2023 and 2025.
While it may seem like the tech-giant is all over the map with its long-rumored Project Titan plans, as we mentioned it’s clear the iPhone-maker is still interested in the general idea.
At least it’s clear by looking at their latest patent, which was published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and discusses concepts and mechanisms that could help facilitate converting power from a high voltage source down to a lower voltage.
Interestingly, as it applies to the inherent “Converter Architecture” patent, No. 20180301986, Apple’s IP specifically notes the technology applies to battery converter systems for vehicular use, such as to power an electric or hybrid car.
While electric and hybrid vehicles run primarily on a high voltage batteries, the car itself needs to use this energy to power both drivetrain systems, as well as components and other functions such as in-cabin electronics, air conditioning and/or heat.
And while these converters are currently being used to help facilitate such functions in electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, Apple believes the technology available is “often inefficient and suffers from load transients that are absorbed by and may cause damage to a low voltage battery.”
In other words, the current slate of high-voltage converters are inefficient, and variations in output due to this inefficiency could ultimately have negative affects on the car or its components.
As illustrated in the diagram below, Apple’s solution to this issue is to use multiple direct current (DC) converters to handle tasks, which would also work to help down convert high energy into lower energy at each junction.
This would then allow either the addition of a secondary low-voltage battery to help power all of the vehicle’s instruments and components, or to supplement the power received by the main power source when a more suitable level of power is needed to keep the components and drivetrain running smoothly.
It’s an interesting concept that ultimately promises greater power management and efficiency — and given that Apple’s application notes this tech would exclusively be used for electric vehicle powertrains, it’s very exciting to think that these developments could one day factor into the company’s first self-branded car.
Of course, a patent is merely a patent, and while they often give us a rare look into what the company is itself looking into, they don’t always materialize in the form of a commercial product.