Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has filed for a patent (number 20210065389) for “systems and methods for surface monitoring” as a safety feature in a vehicle when it comes to detecting low friction on road surfaces.
Road surface conditions, such as ice patches, water puddles, road irregularities, and the like, are a consistent challenge for vehicles traveling on such surfaces. Apple says that, conventionally, many vehicles can’t detect and respond to such conditions in advance and instead merely assist the driver in regaining control of the vehicle once the dynamics of the vehicle are changing as a result of the road surface condition.
For example, stability control systems, traction control systems, and the like facilitate recapture of vehicle control in low-traction event (e.g., a skidding event, a hydroplaning event, etc.) caused by a road surface condition. Detecting and avoiding road surface conditions, however, remains reliant on the driver, who may be prone to error and slow reaction time. Apple’s patent filing involves a solution to such problems.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Implementations described and claimed herein provide systems and methods for surface monitoring. In one implementation, a target surface ahead of a vehicle is illuminated with light emitted from at least one light source. Image data of the target surface is captured from returns collected by at least one imager. At least one surface property of the target surface is measured using the image data. A set of friction metrics is generated from the at least one surface property. An estimated coefficient of friction for the target surface is determined from the set of friction metrics.”
The accompanying image is courtesy of Screenrant.