Apple-designed inter-car communications could make 'Project Titan' safer

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in General Discussion
Apple's "Project Titan" self-driving vehicle project could be made safer by allowing vehicles to communicate with each other, the company suggests, with knowledge of the position and range of other cars on the road able to help both the automated driving system and drivers themselves enhance their situational awareness while in transit.

The current sensor rig for Apple's 'Project Titan' self-driving vehicle tests
The current sensor rig for Apple's 'Project Titan' self-driving vehicle tests


The addition of sensors to a vehicle can provide extra benefits to drivers, such as parking sensors warning if the vehicle is getting too close to another car or another obstacle. While this is handy for close-range situations, it doesn't help when the vehicle is in motion on the road, at high speeds that have the potential to cause severe injury or death in some cases.

Apple's solution is described in a patent published on Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, titled "Wireless vehicle system for enhancing situational awareness." In short, it is a system for how a vehicle can interpret wireless messages from nearby electronic devices to determine their location relative to the car and their motion, and use the information to warn the driver or to take evasive action.

An illustration showing how transmitters on a vehicle could help determine positioning for systems on other cars
An illustration showing how transmitters on a vehicle could help determine positioning for systems on other cars


According to Apple's solution, a vehicle may have multiple transmitters located in each of the four corners, calibrated so that signal strength information can be adequately used in a similar system in another vehicle. Transmitters send out information about the vehicle, such as speed and size, as well as the location of the transmitter, which can then be received by a receiver in another vehicle.

The signal strength for the received vehicle and the data from multiple messages can be used to determine the location of the transmitting vehicle. Satellite navigation systems can also be used to help refine the positioning of the secondary vehicle.

Depending on the situation, an alert may be presented to the driver depending on the location of the vehicle and its type, as well as other information such as detected local traffic flows. Specific warnings could be advised for drivers in the presence of motorcycles, trucks, and emergency service vehicles.

An example of an alert caused through the car communications system
An example of an alert caused through the car communications system


Apple files numerous patents and applications on a weekly basis, but while their existence indicates areas of interest for the company, it is not a guarantee that the concepts described will make an appearance in a future Apple product or service.

While not mentioned in the patent, such a system would be useful for "Project Titan," Apple's ongoing effort to produce a self-driving vehicle system. While current tests involve a plethora of sensors on vehicles, the addition of transmitted data from other vehicles could provide more data for such systems to work with, and to make better decisions while on the move.

Inter-car transmissions could help in other ways. In another patent from October, a "Peloton" system could create a caravan of self-driving vehicles in a line, allowing the convoy to save fuel and, in the case of electric vehicles, to potentially share energy between cars to minimize refueling stops.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,180member
    Utter failure.
  • Reply 2 of 14
    Inter car communication has always been an explicit foundation of self-driving cars. This patent looks at one simple example. 
    GeorgeBMacgatorguy
  • Reply 3 of 14
    Smh...
  • Reply 4 of 14
    While this makes a huge amount of sense it also highlights the complexity of self driving vehicles.   For instance, what happens when a sensor (either sending or receiving) is burned out -- and other vehicles assume that it is working?   And, in such a situation, how you even get the vehicle to a service station -- would it have to be towed?  Or perhaps Woz decides to modernize his TV interference device (that made the watcher jump up & down and wrestle with its rabbit ears) to either block these signals or (arguably worse) send false signals -- making all traffic turn right into the Beto rally instead of the Trump rally?
    edited February 12
  • Reply 5 of 14
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 257member
    TCAS = Traffic Collision Avoidance System (like in existence for years in aviation)
    edited February 12 jeffythequickStrangeDaysbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 6 of 14
    @ GeorgeBMac: I think it would be a left turn to the Beto rally, Trump's is the other way
    GeorgeBMacpatchythepirate
  • Reply 7 of 14
    Project Titan is a self driving car without the car. No, I have no idea what that means either.
  • Reply 8 of 14
    Project Titan is a self driving car without the car. No, I have no idea what that means either.
    Masturbation?
  • Reply 9 of 14
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 1,945member
    Basically... AI doesn't work, so we'll instead use car-to-car communication to try and fix that.... except... deer, kids, pedestrians, etc.?
  • Reply 10 of 14
    While this makes a huge amount of sense it also highlights the complexity of self driving vehicles.   For instance, what happens when a sensor (either sending or receiving) is burned out -- and other vehicles assume that it is working?   And, in such a situation, how you even get the vehicle to a service station -- would it have to be towed?  Or perhaps Woz decides to modernize his TV interference device (that made the watcher jump up & down and wrestle with its rabbit ears) to either block these signals or (arguably worse) send false signals -- making all traffic turn right into the Beto rally instead of the Trump rally?
    Redundant systems with self checks help with your sensor question.  In a human driving car, there is one computer that needs to be shut down every 16 or so hours, and if it isn't, it becomes unreliable.  However the computer in the human driven car has something that a computer doesn't:  The power to make irrational decisions.  I call it a "power" since it can decide to turn left when Siri says to turn right because it has to use the restroom and they know that there's a better restroom at the Pilot Truck Stop rather than the 7-11 that is closer.  Or deciding to take another route home because you want to see different scenery.  As long as the cars have manual override with the TCAS (from above) protections, I'm good.  Another generation may forgo that, like we do with refrigerators and the lack of manual ice delivery to make them cold.

    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 11 of 14
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,016member
    Something like this would be most useful if freely licenced to all cars. If only cars by the same manufacturer could talk to each other it would be almost useless. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 12 of 14
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 126member
    Sounds just like good old DSRC/V2X, to me. Standardized, interoperable, available.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,643member
    Project Titan is a self driving car without the car. No, I have no idea what that means either.
    Masturbation?
    No $billions thrown down the drain while Siri and smart home market ignored by Cook last 5 years.
  • Reply 14 of 14
    For instance, what happens when a sensor (either sending or receiving) is burned out -- and other vehicles assume that it is working? 
    Alarms or alerts, redundancy, and user replaceable sensors (like many headlight bulbs) would go a long way to mitigate failures.  As for the second part, other vehicles should never assume that another vehicle's sensors are working properly, or that another vehicle even has such sensors.  I write simple (compared to self driving cars) business software for a living, and I cannot stress this enough.
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