Apple working on high-voltage battery power converters intended for sports cars

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Apple is continuing to explore ways to improve cars and other vehicles, possibly as part of Project Titan, as the iPhone producer has come up with ways to refine power transfer systems used in electric vehicles to run low-power equipment.

Porsche's 800-volt battery pack, located in the floor of the car.
Porsche's 800-volt battery pack, located in the floor of the car.


Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple's patent application for "Converter Architecture" discusses how power from a high voltage source could be converted down to a lower voltage. In this case, the application advises it is in relation to such systems used in a car.

Electric and hybrid vehicles are typically powered by a high voltage battery or another "high energy store," but while this is mostly needed to get the car moving, the vehicle also needs to use the same energy sources to power components and subsystems, for example air conditioning systems, the dashboard, infotainment units, and battery controllers.

While a converter is usually used to down convert high voltage power to a lower voltage, Apple believes they are "often inefficient and suffer from load transients that are absorbed by and may cause damage to a low voltage battery." In short, they are not efficient and may vary in output to a point where it could affect other connected low voltage components.

Apple's solution is to use multiple direct current (DC) converters to handle the task, with an unregulated DC-to-DC converter down converting an initial high-energy source down to a lower voltage, which could be supplied to a bus. This load is then passed to a second regulated DC-to-DC converter, which is used to regulate the voltage of the bus.

A second lower-voltage power source, such as a battery, could be connected to the regulated converter and be recharged over time. In the event the power supplied to the regulated converter is below an acceptable level, the second power source could be used to supplement the power received by the first, bringing the bus up to a more suitable level of power for the connected components to be used.

Apple's proposed system in the
Apple's proposed system in the "Converter Architecture" patent application


While the existence of a patent or an application is a sign that Apple has worked on an idea, there is no guarantee that Apple will use the concept in a future product.

In this case, however, the application certainly suggests the idea stems from Apple's Project Titan, which was originally believed to be a branded vehicle project before seemingly pivoting over to self driving vehicle systems. The application explicitly mentions it could be used for electric vehicle power trains.

There are also suggested high and low voltage values of 800 volts and 48 volts respectively, with the former being a value typically reserved for industry or high-performance electric vehicles. By contrast, the Tesla Model S uses a battery voltage of 375 volts, potentially putting the theoretical Apple-produced vehicle firmly in the high-performance category.

While Apple has seemingly stuck to self driving technology for Project Titan, evidence of Apple's exploration into other areas of vehicular design continues to mount. In August, patents surfaced for a sunroof system with a tapered roof and for a seat-based haptic feedback system.

More filings in September suggested how a headlight system could single out road elements that a driver should be aware of, as well as a heads-up display that could display points of interest and highlight pedestrians on the inside of a car's windscreen.

Despite the shift to vehicular vision and control, there is still speculation Apple will come out with its own vehicle at some point in the future, possibly by 2023, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,195member
    Parts and technology for cars, yes. Whole car for sale from Apple, nope.

    Every time I see news on electric cars, particularly "sports cars" I sort of wonder when car racing sports will adopt them. They banned turbines at Indy in the 60s, IIRC. Presumably electric propulsion systems will outperform reciprocators in short order, so I presume they will need to be banned, if they haven't already. No "Carburation Day" at Indy. (And yes, I know carburators haven't been used there in decades.)
  • Reply 2 of 13
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,349member
    eightzero said:
    Parts and technology for cars, yes. Whole car for sale from Apple, nope.


    They're not going to sell them, no.

  • Reply 3 of 13
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 230member

    I cannot figure out why Apple would be exploring these other auto-specific designs if they had no intention of building and selling an EV.  What existing auto manufacturer would want Apple to get a toehold in batteries, seating, HUD, or anything not directly related to iPhone connectivity?   The adoption of CarPlay was painful enough for them.

    If Apple’s got a plan for an EV they’re keeping their plans well hidden by apparent obfuscation and misdirection.  Because on the surface it makes no sense.  There’s got to be a missing piece of the puzzle we’re not seeing.

    lollivercornchip
  • Reply 4 of 13
    mgzmgz Posts: 25member
    People indicating Apple can't sell a car because they aren't a car company are probably missing the point. We're going to see an explosion of companies making electric cars, because they are soooooooooo much easier to build and maintain than gas cars. Dyson is working on an electric car. Dyson! I could see them partnering with a traditional car manufacturer the same way they partner with FoxConn: you supply the manufacturing expertise, we'll fund the factory and you build the car to our specifications. The car manufacturer's logo will appear on the Apple Car the same way the Intel Inside sticker appears on Macs, i.e. precisely nowhere.
    JWSClollivercornchip
  • Reply 5 of 13
    netroxnetrox Posts: 675member
    Why do you think Apple cannot sell cars? It may be a radical change - it may not look like a conventional car. There is actually no reason why it has to look like a car when you're building an autonomous vehicle. It may be a pill like car for all we know.
    lolliver
  • Reply 6 of 13
    So are you saying Apple won't do it, or you don't want Apple to do it? Or both? Parts and tech are "million$", cars are "billion$". Apple doesn't do small. So if they're doing what the patents say they are, it's not for licensing and royalties. Speaking of decades ago, I want road racing to return, with just-like-the-dealer-sold-it cars anyone can buy. That was fun. Not much of a TV spectacle, but fun to drive.
    lolliver
  • Reply 7 of 13
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 251member
    What if...Ford’s decision to exit the car market and focus on trucks and commercial vehicles is it’s way of opening production to building Apple’s cars? Apple using Ford’s expertise, factories, dealer networks sounds like a plan.  Of all the American car companies I think Ford is the best and only one i trust. I think if Apple does indeed build a car it would probably be with Ford.
    lolliver
  • Reply 8 of 13
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 230member
    qwwera said:
    What if...Ford’s decision to exit the car market and focus on trucks and commercial vehicles is it’s way of opening production to building Apple’s cars? Apple using Ford’s expertise, factories, dealer networks sounds like a plan.  Of all the American car companies I think Ford is the best and only one i trust. I think if Apple does indeed build a car it would probably be with Ford.
    Never!
  • Reply 9 of 13
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 251member
    JWSC said:
    qwwera said:
    What if...Ford’s decision to exit the car market and focus on trucks and commercial vehicles is it’s way of opening production to building Apple’s cars? Apple using Ford’s expertise, factories, dealer networks sounds like a plan.  Of all the American car companies I think Ford is the best and only one i trust. I think if Apple does indeed build a car it would probably be with Ford.
    Never!
    Bloomberg has an article out about a reverse engineering car firm Munro and Associates, a firm of manufacturing experts contracted by OEMs and suppliers to tear down cars and car parts to the very last nut and bolt. They concluded that Tesla is way ahead of everyone else except....manufacturing. They say that if the model 3 was built by a true car company it would blow away the competition. It’s lack of expertise building cars is Tesla’s biggerst problem. 
    lolliverh2p
  • Reply 10 of 13
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 230member
    qwwera said:
    JWSC said:
    qwwera said:
    What if...Ford’s decision to exit the car market and focus on trucks and commercial vehicles is it’s way of opening production to building Apple’s cars? Apple using Ford’s expertise, factories, dealer networks sounds like a plan.  Of all the American car companies I think Ford is the best and only one i trust. I think if Apple does indeed build a car it would probably be with Ford.
    Never!
    Bloomberg has an article out about a reverse engineering car firm Munro and Associates, a firm of manufacturing experts contracted by OEMs and suppliers to tear down cars and car parts to the very last nut and bolt. They concluded that Tesla is way ahead of everyone else except....manufacturing. They say that if the model 3 was built by a true car company it would blow away the competition. It’s lack of expertise building cars is Tesla’s biggerst problem. 
    I read the article.  Made sense.  My use of ‘never’ refered  to Apple partnering with Ford.  If I was Tim Cook or Elon Musk I’d slit my wrists before doing that.  This comes from experience.  I’ve owned a Mustang, a Taurus, and a Continental over the years.  And I am absolutely DONE with them.  GM too!  So much hope and subsequent disappointment will do that to you after a while.
    h2pcornchip
  • Reply 11 of 13
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 251member
    JWSC said:
    qwwera said:
    JWSC said:
    qwwera said:
    What if...Ford’s decision to exit the car market and focus on trucks and commercial vehicles is it’s way of opening production to building Apple’s cars? Apple using Ford’s expertise, factories, dealer networks sounds like a plan.  Of all the American car companies I think Ford is the best and only one i trust. I think if Apple does indeed build a car it would probably be with Ford.
    Never!
    Bloomberg has an article out about a reverse engineering car firm Munro and Associates, a firm of manufacturing experts contracted by OEMs and suppliers to tear down cars and car parts to the very last nut and bolt. They concluded that Tesla is way ahead of everyone else except....manufacturing. They say that if the model 3 was built by a true car company it would blow away the competition. It’s lack of expertise building cars is Tesla’s biggerst problem. 
    I read the article.  Made sense.  My use of ‘never’ refered  to Apple partnering with Ford.  If I was Tim Cook or Elon Musk I’d slit my wrists before doing that.  This comes from experience.  I’ve owned a Mustang, a Taurus, and a Continental over the years.  And I am absolutely DONE with them.  GM too!  So much hope and subsequent disappointment will do that to you after a while.
    For work we have bought F-150’s all through this decade and no problems whatsoever would not buy any other truck. My wife drives a 2016 Mustang and before that a 2006 Mustang, good cars. 
    But I do understand everyone’s frustration with cars. When I was younger I liked restoring cars. So glad I outgrew that money pit of a hobby. That’s why I don;t know why Apple is even considering getting int the car bussiness. They have such great gig going. I do like that they are getting deeper into services. That’s a great investment for them instead of the dirty world of automobiles.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    h2ph2p Posts: 262member
    If not a fleet/ride hailing vehicle then Certainly a carOS. Watch the bit of Tony Seba's presentation about car operating systems (@37:03 if the link doesn't take you there straightway):



    There is room for two OS's... three at most, he postulates.
  • Reply 13 of 13
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,112member
    mgz said:
    People indicating Apple can't sell a car because they aren't a car company are probably missing the point. We're going to see an explosion of companies making electric cars, because they are soooooooooo much easier to build and maintain than gas cars. Dyson is working on an electric car. Dyson! I could see them partnering with a traditional car manufacturer the same way they partner with FoxConn: you supply the manufacturing expertise, we'll fund the factory and you build the car to our specifications. The car manufacturer's logo will appear on the Apple Car the same way the Intel Inside sticker appears on Macs, i.e. precisely nowhere.
    Yep. This. Except the partnering with a traditional car manufacturer part. I’m thinking what will happen there is, manufacturing cos specializing in electric cars will spring up and build cars for a handful of different electric car brands ie apple. Much like Getrag for transmissions, Cummins for engines & Mahle for pistons & other engine parts now. There will be manufacturers of motors & batteries & body shells & glass (the latter two are clearly already established, and will simply build to spec. The secret sauce will of course be the integrated package which some companies are better at than others........
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