Apple's 'Project Titan' car could warn you what it is about to do, well before it does it

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 21
Apple has come up with a way to allow a self-driving car to communicate much more than lane changing information to other drivers of maneuvers it intends to perform, with the advance warning likely to reduce the possibility of accidents involving both driven and autonomous vehicles.




Awarded on Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the patent for "System and method for visual communication of an operational status" centers around ways drivers provide indications of intent to others on the road. Rather than just relying on turn signals, the patent notes that drivers can usually pick up on subtle cues from drivers in other vehicles that offer up more information, potentially before the turn signal is deployed.

As an example a driver may look at a rearview mirror multiple times, something which could be an indication that they are about to change lanes.

Since many drivers acknowledge these sorts of indirect indicators while on the road, the filing suggests some road users "are uncomfortable operating a vehicle around autonomous or unmanned vehicles." The uncertainty and inability to anticipate movements in traffic make determining intent almost impossible, and could lead to collisions that otherwise may have been avoided.




Apple's solution is for the self-driving vehicle to provide more data for other drivers to take into account. By calculating the route beforehand, the self-driving system can display an indicator of the next step on an external surface as an advanced warning of what it wants to do, such as a specific turning or preparing to park.

Since the indicator is provided ahead of time, the notification could also include a countdown timer for when it expects to perform the maneuver, so the driver could know when it should take place. It is even feasible for the system to provide warnings of things not visible to drivers behind, advising of unanticipated obstructions or other incidents.

The proposed notification system may not necessarily restrict its warnings to just a notification area. For movements where other road users need to be highly aware of a self-driving car's movements, a projection system could illuminate areas of the road the vehicle intends to move towards.

When changing lanes, the projector could highlight the space the car wants to move into, while parking projections showing tracks where the vehicle will turn into could keep pedestrians from walking into its path.




The patent is one of a number of filings Apple has made with the USPTO regarding self-driving car systems. One filing in July suggested how a vehicle could change its driving style based on the observed stress of its passengers, while March filings covered gesture-based controls within the car, as well as the gestures of police and other traffic directors outside the vehicle.

Apple is known to be working on self-driving technology as part of "Project Titan," originally a codename believed to relate to a branded car until 2016 before a shift in focus. The company operates a fleet of vehicles for testing its self-driving systems, and is also thought to be working with Volkswagen on the PAIL program, which would ferry employees between offices using autonomous vans.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,566member
    "After you."  "No, after you." "No, I insist after you."
    jbdragonrepressthisSpamSandwichjony0
  • Reply 2 of 25
    tipootipoo Posts: 940member
    MacPro said:
    "After you."  "No, after you." "No, I insist after you."
    The Great Canadian Standoff, I face it every day opening doors going to work :P 
    tmayrepressthis
  • Reply 3 of 25
    Otherwise known as signal lights.
    jbdragonSpamSandwich
  • Reply 4 of 25
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,858member
    Otherwise known as signal lights.
    I think most people have forgotten what those are as I see so few people use them. Some after the fact! Why does a self driving car need anything else. You should be able to at least count on them to use a turn signal.
  • Reply 5 of 25

    *siri ding* "I'm about to turn left, Michael."
  • Reply 6 of 25
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,303administrator
    Otherwise known as signal lights.
    I don't feel like you read beyond the headline.
    hubbaxracerhomie3gatorguyGeorgeBMacradarthekatrepressthis
  • Reply 7 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,181member
    Otherwise known as signal lights.
    From the article:

    Rather than just relying on turn signals, the patent notes that drivers can usually pick up on subtle cues from drivers in other vehicles that offer up more information, potentially before the turn signal is deployed. 


    GeorgeBMacking editor the graterepressthis
  • Reply 8 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,681member
    Stupid question, how do self driving cars handle parking? Do the cars search endlessly for an open spot in a parking garage? With automated garage parking space tracking, which I first experienced in Singapore nearly a decade ago and now slowly appearing in the US, it seems like the car could communicate with the garage to find a parking space much more quickly. Maybe the car drops you off at a people entrance and then self parks itself, i.e., auto valet? When you’re ready to leave you summon the car to come pick you up at the door. Auto valet/self parking may actually be as useful as auto driving, especially in cities.
    repressthis
  • Reply 9 of 25
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,569moderator
    Next we’ll hear about car pooling where the cars have built in separations between sections of the passenger compartment, so a self-driving car that’s part of a sophisticated autonomous fleet can pick up
    more than one passenger at-a-time where the passengers don’t know one another.  This might be as much a safety issue as a privacy issue. An obvious efficiency measure, it might be fraught with issues; do you want a stranger who is in one of the other passenger modules see where you live, etc, but I’m betting there will be something along these lines, after issues are thought through and mitigated.  
  • Reply 10 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,882member
    Cool!
    As an analogy, one of the key deficits of autism is the inability to pick on "non-verbal" communication.   And, to a large extent, the explicit (verbal) communication between drivers is restricted to signal lights and, more passively, brake lights.  But there are so many more "non-verbal" signals that are passed:
    - When stopped at a light or stop sign, the direction of the front wheels communicates something
    - When moving, a car slows slightly for no apparent reason communicates something
    - When moving on a multi-lane road, a car starts inching over communicates something
    - When stopped at a stop sign, a car stops a few feet back from the intersection communicates something
    - Or, you see a driver giving a glance over their shoulder...

    All those things are signals that humans pick up from other humans -- but are as absent from machines as "non-verbal communication" is from an autistic.   It's a limitation -- a disability if you will.   Apple is trying to take autism out of its machines.   Cool.


    repressthis
  • Reply 11 of 25

    I think putting an external panel like an oled screen on the rear window seems redundant and pointless.


    Newer cars will have V2V communications and the same info can be wirelessly transmitted and displayed in your own car via the instrument panel or HUD.

  • Reply 12 of 25
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 267member
    Every time I see a car fitted out with all the cameras and sensors to feed data to the computer I wonder something: How well will self driving technology do on a muddy road when the spatters start obstructing the cameras? Or slush? Or sticky snow? Or bug splats? Will washing your windows when you fuel up become a 10 minute chore as you have to get all of these sensor windows all over the place? I know our backup camera gets obstructed, and it's in a relatively sheltered spot.
  • Reply 13 of 25
    farmboyfarmboy Posts: 152member
    DAalseth said:
    Every time I see a car fitted out with all the cameras and sensors to feed data to the computer I wonder something: How well will self driving technology do on a muddy road when the spatters start obstructing the cameras? Or slush? Or sticky snow? Or bug splats? Will washing your windows when you fuel up become a 10 minute chore as you have to get all of these sensor windows all over the place? I know our backup camera gets obstructed, and it's in a relatively sheltered spot.
    Legitimate questions all. My guess is when a sensor becomes opaque, there will be heated jets of wiper fluid to clean them off, at least that's what current tech would do. And probably redundancy / task transfer to other, unblocked sensors. 

    Of course, you could just run thru the Number 1 car wash after you get gassed. Or rather, have your vehicle run itself thru it while you buy that morning's pizza slice still in the case. So many options in our future!
  • Reply 14 of 25
    "Newer cars will have V2V communications"  <--- This!

    With all the R&D going into competing systems, they are forgetting about interoperability. Like the way smart home device manufacturers wanted just 'their' 
    system, but now at least there seems to be an effort to standardise this.

    All cars will have bluetooth/wifi, so there should be a common language they all speak to let cars around them know their intention.
    That way Siri can announce to you "The car ahead is about to change lane" (or not bother if its on auto pilot, just respond OK and slow)
    And if a car up front has to emergency brake, all cars back will know within milliseconds and prevent pileups

    I cant wait for self driving, the sooner we get rid of the Nut-holding-the-wheel the better. A networked mesh system of cars is surely going to be safer than humans. 

  • Reply 15 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,265member
    seanie248 said:
    "Newer cars will have V2V communications"  <--- This!

    With all the R&D going into competing systems, they are forgetting about interoperability. 
    Of course the companies involved aren't forgetting about interoperability. Just do a search for the topic.
  • Reply 16 of 25
    I'm convinced Project Titan is really just a cover to fund some government black project.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    DAalseth said:
    Every time I see a car fitted out with all the cameras and sensors to feed data to the computer I wonder something: How well will self driving technology do on a muddy road when the spatters start obstructing the cameras? Or slush? Or sticky snow? Or bug splats? Will washing your windows when you fuel up become a 10 minute chore as you have to get all of these sensor windows all over the place? I know our backup camera gets obstructed, and it's in a relatively sheltered spot.
    Why couldn't they be programmed to do exactly what you would do if a ton of mud splattered on your windshield -- slow down, pull over, and stop so as to clean the view?
    edited August 21
  • Reply 18 of 25
    Rayz2016 said:
    Otherwise known as signal lights.
    From the article:

    Rather than just relying on turn signals, the patent notes that drivers can usually pick up on subtle cues from drivers in other vehicles that offer up more information, potentially before the turn signal is deployed. 



    Otherwise known as signal lights.
    I don't feel like you read beyond the headline.

    It's a joke. However, the general premise is correct. It's nothing more than some form of additional signal to try and pass information to others.

    I read the whole article. Nothing new to me (having worked with Transport Canada for a number of years we were always discussing automotive safety and connected cars).

    Autonomous cars have a LOT of things to work through. So many things passed along are done by a person. How many times have you waved at another person from your car (someone merging in front of you, someone pulling out of a driveway, someone turning left in front of you on a busy street with bumper-to-bumper cars, a pedestrian crossing the street....). That's a single gesture that gets used in numerous situations. And the other person knows exactly what you mean. How do you bring that to an autonomous vehicle without a driver? Are we going to have to create a whole new system of alerts/messages/symbols for every possible scenario? And expect that everyone will learn and memorize all these symbols? What about people who don't drive cars - do they need to take a "pedestrian test" to understand the rules of the road for vehicles?

    Although it sounds silly, it would probably be easier to have a robot in the car with an actual arm that waves at and a head that makes eye contact you the same as a person would. Universal gestures that everyone is already used to and everyone understands.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,181member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Otherwise known as signal lights.
    From the article:

    Rather than just relying on turn signals, the patent notes that drivers can usually pick up on subtle cues from drivers in other vehicles that offer up more information, potentially before the turn signal is deployed. 



    Otherwise known as signal lights.
    I don't feel like you read beyond the headline.

    It's a joke. However, the general premise is correct. It's nothing more than some form of additional signal to try and pass information to others.

    I read the whole article. Nothing new to me (having worked with Transport Canada for a number of years we were always discussing automotive safety and connected cars).

    Autonomous cars have a LOT of things to work through. So many things passed along are done by a person. How many times have you waved at another person from your car (someone merging in front of you, someone pulling out of a driveway, someone turning left in front of you on a busy street with bumper-to-bumper cars, a pedestrian crossing the street....). That's a single gesture that gets used in numerous situations. And the other person knows exactly what you mean. How do you bring that to an autonomous vehicle without a driver? Are we going to have to create a whole new system of alerts/messages/symbols for every possible scenario? And expect that everyone will learn and memorize all these symbols? What about people who don't drive cars - do they need to take a "pedestrian test" to understand the rules of the road for vehicles?

    Although it sounds silly, it would probably be easier to have a robot in the car with an actual arm that waves at and a head that makes eye contact you the same as a person would. Universal gestures that everyone is already used to and everyone understands.
    I think someone els has pointed out that the way forward is for the cars to talk to each other.

    The only way to make roads safe is to get rid of human drivers. 

    In the U.K, the signal lights are used to inform other drivers of something you’ve done between 3 and 10 seconds ago, or something you may do in five miles time. 

    The most common use of the indicator is to inform other drivers that you’re asleep at the wheel (shown by the right indicator flashing for the past hour while the car is travelling at speed). 

  • Reply 20 of 25
    chrispoe said:

    I think putting an external panel like an oled screen on the rear window seems redundant and pointless.


    Newer cars will have V2V communications and the same info can be wirelessly transmitted and displayed in your own car via the instrument panel or HUD.

    Yeah, because looking at your instrument panel to determine a vehicle might be merging into your vehicle is better than keeping your eyes on the road and that said interception vehicle. /s
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