The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a granted patent yesterday for Apple Inc. that relates to their long-range Project Titan that is creating the foundation for possible future semi-autonomous, fully autonomous and electric vehicle systems. With today’s granted patent, Patently Apple has now archived 76 patent reports on this single project that’s covering every imaginable aspect of future vehicles from next-generation roads that could communicate with a vehicle to radar projectors for automated steering to advanced camera systems for in-vehicle and those using machine learning to direct a vehicle that are exterior, to a smart windows system that could automatically shade windows that are directly in line with the sun to protect a drivers and/or passengers view and far beyond.
Apple’s latest granted patent on this project relates to a system that understands how and when to make a safe lane change on a roadway.
Apple specifically states that the granted patent describes integrated decision making and motion planning solutions for automatically performing lane change maneuvers with a vehicle. A decision-making component may determine a behavioral pattern to be followed by an autonomous or automated vehicle and a motion planning component may determine an actual lane change trajectory for performing the lane change maneuver.
These components may operate together to efficiently enable successful transition from a current lane to a target lane (e.g., generating a collision free trajectory adhering to the vehicle’s dynamics and passenger comfort constraints). For example, the decision making component may determine constraints and/or goals that the motion planning module may use to narrow or focus its search for successful lane change trajectory. These efficiencies may enable a vehicle control system as a whole to consider a wider range or assortment of potential lane change motions than would otherwise be possible or practical.
Headway is a distance (e.g., from bumper to bumper) between two vehicles traveling in the same lane of a road. A headway may also be expressed as a time that it would take a vehicle to travel the distance between the two vehicles at the trailing vehicle’s current speed.
A minimum headway constraint specifies the minimum headway that should be maintained between vehicles. A minimum headway constraint may be a function of vehicle speed, e.g., the faster a vehicle is moving, the larger the headway maintained should be.
A minimum headway constraint may be determined by laws applying on a road. A minimum headway constraint may be a design feature of a vehicle control system added to enhance safety.
A minimum headway constraint may be different for the headway maintained to vehicles ahead of the vehicle being controlled (the ego vehicle) than for the headway maintained to vehicles behind the ego vehicle.
Apple’s patent FIG. 5 below is a flowchart of an exemplary process for determining a motion plan.
Content retrieved from: https://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2020/10/apple-has-won-another-project-titan-patent-that-focuses-on-a-system-that-assists-autonomous-vehicles-make-lane-changes.html.