India: Apple's Patent For Autonomous Vehicle's Focused On Eliminating Blinding Light Glare

Last Updated: 27 August 2019
Article by Noyonika Mukherjee

Apple was granted 60 new Patents by the U.S. patent and Trademark Office in the month of July, 2019. These 60 newly granted Patents included a vital autonomous vehicle vision system the main purpose of which is to filter out glaring light which generally troubles the vehicle's navigation system. On the other hand, Apple also bagged a few design patents including Beats Headphones and some more. A Patent application titled "Apple reveals a Vital Safety System for Autonomous Vehicle’s focused on eliminating Blinding Light Glare" filed for registration almost a year and a half ago in March, 2018 USPTO office was granted patent. Reports showed that last year in the month of January Apple expanded its sector of Self-driving cars in California and eventually registered 24 additional vehicles with the State’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Over the time, the U.S. Patent Office published several major Apple patent applications regarding future autonomous vehicles in the journal to be viewed by the public. It was marked by Apple that the patent granted to them for novel imaging devices, such as cameras, focus light from a scene onto an image sensor. The operators use one or more such cameras for acquiring assistance in vehicle vision system. These cameras help the operators with lane changes, parking, and rearward view while performing a reversing maneuver.1 The vehicle vision system allows the driver or the operator of the vehicle to opt for safer driving decisions by aiding them with additional information which would help them to operate the vehicle smoothly. The imaging devices (e.g., cameras) may experience operating conditions with various light conditions that affect the vehicle vision system, and which might consequently manoeuvre the autonomous vehicle. This invention also covers systems to regulate received at an image sensor.2The strong and dazzling light of the sun affects the vehicles vision system. If there is a sudden change in the lighting conditions, the scene captured by the imaging devices such as the camera gets affected. Driving at night may low light levels which mainly results from street lights or other vehicles. Thus, an autonomous vehicle system must be efficient enough to operate in different lighting conditions adopt abrupt and sudden changes in the lighting conditions quick enough to adjust the amount of light received at the image sensor.3 In usual lighting conditions the errors are few and by that the safety of the system improves.There are certain embodiments that arereported in the patent filing include one or more mechanism for blocking light received at the image sensor. The mechanisms are advanced and can adjust itself in accordance to the lighting conditions. The safety of the vehicle occupants and others on the roadway may be compromised if, for example, the autonomous vehicle does not recognize an object in its path because of glare. In contrast, glare produced in an image of a backup camera system can be overcome by the vehicle operator’s own vision. And while lighting conditions for photography may affect the aesthetic quality of a captured image, it does not affect the operator’s safety. 4

Apple’s patent FIG. 7 below, autonomous vehicle #700 can include a front portion #702, rear portion #704, driver side #706, passenger side #708, and roof #710. The vehicle can include any number of cameras 100A-H. In some embodiments, the cameras can be protected by an additional housing, for example, a transparent covering.5

The fact is that only the Patent for the design has been granted by the USPTO as of now.  Thus, the launch of the ultimate product from it is expected thought the estimated time is still unknown.

Footnotes

1.https://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2018/03/apple-reveals-a-vital-safety-system-for-autonomous-vehicles-focused-on-eliminating-blinding-light-glare.html

2.ibid

3.https://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2019/07/apple-won-60-patents-today-covering-a-future-vehicle-vision-system-a-beats-headphone-design-patent-and-more.html

4.ibid

5.Supra note 1.

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