Apple granted patent for vehicle doors with ‘adaptive positioning’

Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,384,519) for car doors with “adaptive positioning.”

In the patent info, the tech giant notes that most vehicles have hinged doors that swing open at an angle to the vehicle. Hinged doors are typically operated manually which Apple says can be “cumbersome: for passengers to open and close. A passenger may also find it difficult to enter and exit the vehicle through a hinged door because the door itself may obstruct the passenger's path out of or into the vehicle. 

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Some vehicles use sliding doors that slide open along the side of the vehicle, providing an unobstructed path into and out of the vehicle. Apple says that sliding doors typically provide larger openings and easier access to the vehicle and are sometimes powered so that the doors can be opened and closed automatically. 

However, conventional sliding doors are restricted to move along a single path from a closed position to an open position, the company says. Since the sliding doors are bound by the three guide rails, the open position relative to the vehicle does not change and the path to the open position does not change. The inability to adjust the path of motion for a sliding door places undesirable limitations on the placement of sliding doors on vehicles and the types of vehicles with which sliding doors are compatible. 

For example, the inability to adjust the position of an open sliding door relative to the side of a vehicle prevents typical sliding doors from being used for front seats since the front tires may sometimes obstruct the door's path of motion. Apple thinks it can do better.

Here’s the summary of the invention: “Doors on a vehicle may be controlled by a door positioning system that moves the doors freely and fluidly relative to the body of the vehicle. The doors may include front and rear doors on each side of the vehicle. The door positioning system may control the movement and positioning of each door using a door mechanism coupled between the door and the body of the vehicle. 

“The door positioning system may determine a position or path of motion for each door based on sensor data and user input. The door positioning system may issue corresponding control signals to actuators in the door mechanism to position the door accordingly. For example, the front door may slide open at an angle to accommodate an angled tire. Front and rear doors may open in opposite directions to create a large, unobstructed space for passengers to enter and exit the 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.