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Apple unveils an optical wireless communication system that meets the needs of a world of autonomous vehicles

Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple related to vehicle navigation. More specifically, some aspects are related to data communication of vehicles during vehicle navigation. The need for a communication system to operate a world of autonomous vehicles at super high speeds is great. Apple’s patent seeks to address the problems and needs of real-time communications and the reinvention of the American road system to make it happen.

Apple notes that modern cars can upload or download significant amounts of data. For example, autonomous vehicles can continuously upload data to the cloud (eg a data center, a cloud computing environment and other cloud-based data environments), data that can be used to set up autonomous driving algorithms based on individual data or based on test vehicle fleets .

Vehicles can also continuously download data, such as real-time car data, map downloads, media downloads or other data. Although some wireless communication channels (eg 5G) can provide high data bandwidth, these communication channels often require expensive vehicle data plans.

Other wireless communication protocols, such as Wi-Fi and WiGig technologies, provide data communication, but with significant bandwidth limitations for large amounts of data. The performance of each of these communication protocols can be further reduced, for example due to non-sight communication and outdoor environmental challenges. What is needed is an improved solution for the transmission of vehicle data.


7;s patent application presents various technical solutions to the technical problems of autonomous vehicles (eg fully autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles). To address technical issues such as the cost and delay of wireless communication, a heterogeneous roadside infrastructure can be used to improve the ability of a vehicle to communicate with a data source.

To solve technical problems with interruptions in vehicle services due to a sudden loss of connection, a service quality system provides the ability to determine and share the quality of service information, such as location-based information, maps, interference data and other quality of service information.

To solve technical problems that are uploaded and downloaded for large volumes between autonomous vehicles and cloud-based data services, Optical wireless communication (OWC) provides increased data capacity and reduced complexity, and can be beneficial for short-range wireless communication with high mobility.

Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below is a diagram showing an exemplary heterogeneous infrastructure. To support the growing number of autonomous vehicles, there is a need to offer improved services to the vehicles. These services may rely on communications between the vehicle and a data source, such as the cloud.

These services may include real-time services, such as smart parking, offer over-the-air (OTA) updates for vehicle software, firmware and security updates, and provide real-time traffic and weather alerts specific to vehicle location, providing entertainment and office services for passengers , downloading and updating HD maps (eg high level three-dimensional navigation detail) during a trip and other services.

The ongoing reliance on these services to the cloud (including, for example, Wide-area networks (WANs), the Internet, and other cloud-based data connections) increases the network cost for operators.

Furthermore, the current wireless carriers may not have sufficient bandwidth for real-time services, where even 5G access often includes several sequential communication paths (eg communication bumblebees) between the vehicle and the cloud, where each communication path adds latency.

To provide enhanced vehicle services, the heterogeneous infrastructure (# 100) enhances the ability of a vehicle to communicate with a data source.

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Apple’s patent FIG. 8 above is a diagram showing a Optical Wireless Communication (OWC) placement.

In various aspects, these OWC solutions can be utilized when the vehicle is located near road units equipped with OWC on city roads or highways. These solutions can be used in the transport infrastructure (such as traffic lights, traffic lights, vehicle charging stations) to communicate with vehicles. Depending on the infrastructure implementation, these OWC solutions may include a fixed point-to-point OWC configuration (eg for charging station infrastructure) or a fixed point for OWC configuration in point of motion (eg for traffic lights or traffic light infrastructures).

Apple’s patent FIG. 10 below is a diagram showing an OWC-adapted optical front-end design.

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Apple’s patent application number 20200314614 which was published today by the US Patent Office was filed back in March 2019.

For engineers, especially those working on future autonomous vehicle systems, who want to know more about Apple’s vision and proposed solutions for future autonomous communications, click here. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product for the market is unknown at this time.

10.51FX - Patent Application Line

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