Apple patent involves the guidance of autonomous vehicles

Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,372,132) for “guidance of autonomous vehicles in destination vicinities using intent signals.”

In the patent details, the tech giant notes that motorized vehicles which are capable of sensing their environment and navigating to destinations with little or no ongoing input from occupants, and may therefore be referred to as "autonomous" or "self-driving" vehicles, are an increasing focus of research and development. Given the multiplicity of choices that are typically available with respect to vehicle trajectories in real-world environments, occupant input or guidance with regard to selecting vehicle trajectories (without requiring traditional steering, braking, accelerating and the like) may be extremely valuable to the motion control components of such vehicles. 

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However, Apple says that providing interfaces for such guidance that are intuitive and easy to use, especially within environments such as parking lots for which detailed and/or accurate mapping data may not be available, may present a non-trivial challenge. But the company thinks it’s up to the job.

Here’s the summary of the invention: “Signals usable to determine a path of a vehicle towards a particular stopping point in a vicinity of a destination are detected from an individual authorized to provide guidance with respect to movements of the vehicle. Based at least in part on the signals and a data set pertaining to the external environment of the vehicle, one or more vehicular movements to be implemented to proceed along the path are identified. A directive is transmitted to a motion control subsystem of the vehicle to initiate one of the vehicular movements.”

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.