Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,112,528) for an “exterior lighting and warning system” for an automobile.
In the patent details, Apple notes that when a driver brakes to slow a vehicle, the brake lights are activated. The brake lights are mounted on the rear of the vehicle, so the driver a following vehicle can be informed about the braking status of the vehicle. Some vehicles have brake lights that flash under hard braking to warn following vehicles.
Apple says that, although existing systems for informing following vehicles of braking status can be satisfactory in normal driving conditions, it would be “desirable” to provide additional brake status information and additional warnings in many situations. The company’s invention is for better brake lighting and warning systems.
As the Sellers Research Group (that’s me) has long said, I don’t think that Apple will actually build its own automobiles, but will work with other manufactures to implement technologies such as enhanced CarPlay into their vehicles.
That said, here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “A vehicle may have vehicle controls that are used in steering, braking, and accelerating the vehicle. The vehicle may have sensors that gather information on vehicle speed, orientation, and position. “The sensors may also gather information on relative speed between the vehicle and a following vehicle, information on risks of a collision between a vehicle and an external object, and other vehicle status information and vehicle operating environment information.
“Control circuitry may use light-based devices to display braking information, information on vehicle speed, the relative speed between a vehicle and a following vehicle, autonomous driving mode status information, custom brake light information or other user-selected information, or other information on vehicle status and the operating environment of a vehicle.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.