Earlier today, Apple discovered a patent project Titan-related patent in the European Patent Office which was posted last Wednesday, February 15, 2019 under # EP3482220. The system relates to improving the detectability of road signs and vehicles on the road under low visibility conditions such as fog or snow with multiple retroreflectors. For example, if you are traveling on a snowstorm and traffic signs are covered in snow, a radar retroreflector system can read text under the snow and attach it to the driver on a CarPlay screen and / or other screen (iPhone, iPad ).
Apple notes that vehicle visibility on the road is critical to the safety of drivers. In low visibility conditions (such as fog, dust, snow or smog), drivers' inability to see other vehicles or road protection increases the risk of collision. Vehicles can reduce the risk of collision by using additional systems such as radar systems, vision based cameras and light detection and range (LiDAR) cameras. Certain road or weather conditions can affect the efficiency of these systems, such as water vapor absorbing or scattering light, thereby reducing proper vehicle detection. The efficiency of these systems can be improved by enhancing vehicle sensitivity. The present invention relates to a retroreflector system which includes a plurality of retroreflectors. The plurality of retroreflectors are configured to reflect a radar signal, a light, a local signal, or any other type of signal to a respective signal source. The majority of retroreflectors may be at least partially embedded in an outer body panel of a vehicle. The outer body panel is configured so that the radar signal can pass through multiple retroreflectors. Apple's patent Fig. 2 below illustrates a plurality of retroreflectors configured to reflect a signal under low-visibility conditions; FIG. 4 illustrates a schematic diagram of a plurality of retroreflectors embedded in a bumper device of a vehicle.
More specifically, Fig. 2 illustrates a retroreflector system (# 200) having a road sign (# 210) configured to provide information to a Vehicle # 220. The retroreflector system can include an outer body panel (# 202) and a number of retroreflectors (# 204) that can be fully integrated into a collection located behind the outer body panel.
The road sign may include text (# 212) indicating information useful to drivers; the information includes, but is not limited to, a speed limit, a stop scheme, a warning sign, a directions, a distance marker, a restriction alert, a direction indicator, a street name, a route marker, a directions, a parking zone marker, a point of interest, an emergency alert, a crosswalk, a school zone marker, a wilderness indicator, or any other combination of these.
In some embodiments, the signal source (# 222) may include an optical sensor, such as a camera, to read the text on the road sign (# 210). However, the camera may not read the text when it is low visible (# 240), such as fog, rain, snow, ice, night, dirt, mud, dust storm, fog, smog or other visible obstructive condition.
The signal source # 222 may include a radar device configured to output the signal # 224. The signal may include a radar signal which may include a radio frequency component. The low-visibility mode may be transparent to the radar signal based on the radio frequency component being configured to permeate physical or visual obstructions with little or no signal degradation.
The majority of retroreflectors can be configured with a standing wave interference pattern. The standing wave interference pattern can be shaped or controlled. For example, standing wave interference patterns may be encoded to transmit a bit pattern that may indicate the text on the road sign.
Apple notes that "A representation of the text reflected by the signal on the majority of retroreflectors may be reproduced by the vehicle and displayed to a passenger on a display device ."
] While Apple is not specific about the display device, in another area of the patent, the devices appear to include an iPhone, iPad or monitor in an infotainment system such as CarPlay.
As shown in FIG. 4 above, the retroreflector system (# 400) may alternatively be integrated into a bumper assembly of a vehicle. The outer body panel (# 402) can be connected to the bumper assembly or embedded in an outer surface of the bumper assembly. For example, the outer body panel may be integral with the bumper unit so that it may be the outer surface of the bumper assembly. The majority of retroreflectors (# 404) may be embedded in an inner portion of the bumper assembly. The inner portion of the bumper assembly may comprise a shock absorber 406. The shock absorber may be constructed of a material configured to be flexible by a shock, such as foam or plastic.
In the big picture
This is obviously an invention that looks many years down the road. Technology companies are likely to work with US state and Canadian provincial governments to develop next-generation road sign technology that will be able to communicate with semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles developed by companies such as Apple, Google, Tesla, Ford, and others.
Apple could not create such a system without being part of a much larger interconnected system created by governments for future weighing systems.
Apple's patent application released by the European Patent Office this week Wednesday was originally filed September 20, 2017. The US patent was filed in September 2017. Considering that this is a patent application, of such a product to the market is unknown at this time. . so that Siri can call traffic signs in advance so that the driver can keep his eyes on the road. For example, during a blizzard, Siri could be set to communicate with a driver, for example: "At the next intersection, there is a stop sign."
An alternative system would be to have road sign information displayed on a windshield windshield or an enlarged windshield.
Side Note # 2: While Apple's Patent FIG. 4 above, the radar system which alternatively incorporates into a vehicle's bumper, does not extend the patent value of the system in that position, except for a brief statement in the first overview at the top of this driver's inability to see vehicle and "road protection" forward.
In low-road road conditions such as fog and snow, there are times when drivers could barely see 30 feet in front of them. Every year we hear about 10 to 70 car piles on the highway due to poor visibility like the one presented in the video below.
By having a radar system as described in Apple's patenting, it would theoretically be able to communicate with the driver that there is danger in the way ahead to help the downturn of the driver in time to switch lanes and / or get out of the way to avoid a big collision.
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