Patents

Apple looks into a climate control system for an ‘Apple Car’

Let the Apple Car rumors roll on, especially with all the buzz and speculation that’s going on (which I take with a bit of skepticism). Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,875,380) for a climate control system for a vehicle that would adjust the different areas of an automobile “cabin” to accommodate individual passenger’s comfort levels.

In the patent data, Apple notes that vehicle climate control systems often rely upon one or more air-conditioning units and one or more heater units, to control a climate in various portions of a vehicle cabin. Such control can include directing air, at least partially conditioned or heated by one or more elements, into various regions of the vehicle cabin (“cabin regions”) via various air vents located throughout the cabin, heating various surfaces in the cabin through heating elements, etc. 

In some cases, such control is at least partially implemented by a climate control system included in the vehicle. The climate control system can respond to user commands, provided via one or more interfaces in the vehicle, including dials, knobs, touch-screen interfaces, etc. 

In some cases, the climate control system can generate a particular configuration of some climate control components to effect a particular change in climate conditions in one or more cabin regions and generate output commands to the climate control components to achieve the generated configuration.

Apple says that, in some cases, climate conditions in a vehicle cabin may be relatively uncomfortable for the occupant(s), particularly when such occupants initially enter the car when, for example, it’s been turned-off and left outdoors on a hot day. In such a case, reducing the interior temperature to a more comfortable level may require an extended period of operation of the ACU at a high operating level. In another example, where an overheated individual enters the vehicle cabin, the user may desire that the vehicle cabin climate conditions be rapidly changed. 

However, Apple says that some car climate control systems may be limited in providing such functionality. For example, airflow provided into the cabin from various cabin air vents, and conditioning or heating of such airflow and various cabin surfaces, may not provide sufficient granularity in climate control of one or more particular cabin regions occupied by one or more occupants to provide comfortable climate conditions to the occupants. Or climate control systems may be limited in a capacity to anticipate optimal configurations (e.g., operating settings) of various climate control components for various situations, and for various particular users. 

What’s more, at least some of the various climate control components included in a car require substantial expenditures of energy, also referred to herein as energy usage, in order to function. 

Apple thinks it can do better. For instance, the tech giant’s idea is to equip a vehicle with sensors that detect the temperature within and without and adjust accordingly when the car is started. Different sections of the interior of the car could be individually adjusted to different driver/passenger comfort levels. And I’m sure that, with Apple, users would be able to set a time for the Apple Car to power up and began adjusting its functions.

Here’s the summary of the invention: “Some embodiments provide a vehicle climate control system for controlling climate conditions in various cabin regions of a vehicle cabin, where the climate control system is configured to control one or more vehicle components to change the set of climate conditions associated with one or more cabin regions to approximate a set of optimal comfort conditions. The climate control system controls various vehicle components to control climate conditions, including window assemblies, sunroof assemblies, etc. 

“The climate control system determines optimal comfort conditions which optimize perceived temperature of various occupant body parts and maintain various climate characteristics within one or more sets of thresholds. Output configurations of various vehicle components can be determined based at least in part upon determined optimal comfort conditions of various cabin regions. Output configurations can be generated based at least in part upon various control mode priorities.”

the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.

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