Project Titan has eluded the public for quite some time, leaving many of us to wonder what final form Apple’s autonomous car will take, but today’s report might shed some new light.
Concept car renders showcase an automobile that takes a minimalistic approach that stays true to Apple’s sleek design and consumer appeal — but until its unveiling, we will only have to guess. So as Apple continues to operate behind closed doors, the company has been applying for and receiving patents that could determine the autonomous vehicle’s design. And two of the latest patents give us a glimpse at what we can expect from Apple’s self-driving car once it finally hits the market.
Granted to Apple last week, a newly awarded patent labeled “Movable panels with nonlinear tracks” details the workings of what appears to be a sunroof for an automobile.
The design allows for a retractable sunroof on cars that possess a unique sunroof design, narrower in the center and wider on either end. This design could allow for bigger, more encompassing sunroofs.
The patent is summarized below:
” …a movable panel that is movable between a closed position and an open position, a first track, a second track, and an arm that is connected to the movable panel, the first track, and the second track. A lateral spacing between the first track and the second track varies along the first track and the second track in a front-to-rear direction. The arm pivots with respect to the first track and the second track in correspondence with the lateral spacing between the first track and the second track during movement of the arm along the first track and the second track.”
Essentially, Apple is looking to redefine the sunroof and not let shape, length, or width determine whether or not the sunroof can open or retract.
And while there is no certainty that Apple models their patent mock-ups after their actual products, we can’t help but wonder if this offers us a peek at Project Titan’s final form.
In addition to the innovative sunroof design, Apple also received another patent last week. This one, however, deals with the design, interaction, and customization of automobile seats.
Described as “Haptic feedback for dynamic seating system,” the patent explains how the automobile seats can work to adjust the comfort and safety levels of the passengers based on data from the car. In turn, specific seating positions or seat-based warnings could inform the driver of different road conditions or a possible collision.
The patent is summarized below:
“…a dynamic seating system that includes one or more vehicle sensors that output information describing one or more operating characteristics of a vehicle; a calculation unit configured to determine a feedback level based on a degree of deviation of the one or more operating characteristics of the vehicle from a predetermined state; and a seating assembly configured to actuate based on the feedback level.”
Apple believes that the seats within an automobile can actually do more than just possess safety features (like a seat belt) — and instead, they can take feedback and make adjustments. A nudge or slight haptic vibration could be used if the driver’s habits reflect inattentiveness or sleepiness.
As with most Apple patents, we will have to wait and see whether these will be part of an immediate product release, or if they will simply be added to Apple’s stockpile of patents. Last year, Apple filed 2,229 patents alone.