Apple will combine this system with a range of sensors, which works in tandem with the data received.
There is a lot of speculation on how good the Apple Car will be. One of the biggest question marks is around its self-driving technology because it started later than Google’s Waymo and doesn’t have the data that Tesla has amassed over the years. But Apple’s research indicates that Apple’s technology could help recognise and respond to a person directing traffic. This is certainly important for Indian roads, even though self-driving is unlikely to hit Indian roads in this decade – it even makes sense for more developed countries in accident laden areas.
“Traffic direction gesture recognition” is something Apple has been granted a patent for. “Vehicle safety improvements and the rise of interest in automated navigation and control of vehicles have led to the inclusion of different types of remote sensing equipment installed on vehicles,” says the patent. “Automated navigation and control systems may process data collected by the sensors in order to detect and characterize objects in the environment for various purposes,” the patent filing adds.
“[These] current autonomous vehicle systems typically return control to the driver in the event of an unexpected traffic diversion or any number of other atypical driving situations,” it says. “[And] none of these systems addresses unexpected traffic diversions where a pedestrian may be manually directing traffic, for example, due to an accident, special event, or road hazard,” Apple explains.
Apple will combine this system with a range of sensors, which works in tandem with the data received. These sensors may also receive data about the pedestrians in the vicinity of the vehicle so as Ito analyse them to identify a traffic diversion mechanism. It includes identifying the direction of the traffic who is using gestures or signs.
“Gestures of a traffic director may be interpreted and understood by the vehicle as commands to perform manoeuvres related to the traffic diversion, including stopping, slowing, or turning onto a detour route,” continues the patent. “The vehicle may be equipped with a command acknowledgement device for acknowledging to a traffic director the vehicle’s understanding of the traffic diversion condition or manoeuvre commands,” the filing states.
Interestingly, this patent has been granted to Sayanan V Sivaraman who was previously an engineer in Volkswagen.
Apple has also been granted patents for an active car suspension system. This is something we have seen before in supercars and even F1 cars of the early 90s, particularly the 1993 Williams F1 car which won the world title with Alain Prost. This system has been tuned for normal roads and commuting situations.
“To maintain contact of the tire and wheel assemblies with the road surface and to provide comfort to passengers in the vehicle body. Road vehicles include suspension systems that support a body of the vehicle on road surfaces over which the vehicles travel,” explains the patent. “The suspension system controls the vertical movement of tire and wheel assemblies relative to the body due to road disturbances,” said the filing.
“Vertical movements of the unsprung mass due to road disturbances generally occur in a low frequency (e.g., around 3 Hz), which may be referred to primary ride,” it continues. “Additional vertical movements of the unsprung mass may occur in a higher frequency range due to dynamic characteristics of the unsprung mass (e.g., stiffness of the tire), which may be referred to as secondary ride or wheel hop,” Apple added.