Apple Car, anyone? Apple patent is for an autonomous navigation system

Let the Apple Car rumors recommence. Apple has filed for a patent (number 20170353430) for an “autonomous navigation system,” which will doubtless review rumors of an Apple-branded vehicle (something I’m dubious about; more on that in a moment).

Apple Car Patent.jpeg

Apple’s patent is for an system which enables autonomous navigation of a vehicle along a driving route based on monitoring in the vehicle. The vehicle is manually navigated along the route to develop a “characterization” of the route. 

The characterization is progressively updated with repeated manual navigations along the route, and autonomous navigation of the route is enabled when a confidence indicator of the characterization meets a threshold indication. Characterizations can be updated in response to the vehicle encountering changes in the route and can include a set of driving rules associated with the route, where the driving rules are developed based on monitoring the navigation of one or more vehicles of the route. Characterizations can be uploaded to a remote system which processes data to develop and refine route characterizations and provide characterizations to one or more vehicles.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that, so far, systems that can enable autonomous navigation, also referred to as autonomous driving, of a vehicle have been “less than ideal.” The tech giant seems to think it can change this.

Apple Car patent two.jpeg

It probably can. But while some folks think that Apple will make its own vehicle, I think the company will instead work with current auto makers to implement hardware and software features in their products.

I could be wrong. But I don’t see Apple-branded vehicles driving our way.

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.