Apple’s car ambitions don’t stop there.

Editor’s note: This article comes from “ Future Car Daily ” (WeChat public account ID: auto-time), author: Xiao Cheng Yi.

Author | Cheng Xiaoyi

Edit | Xu Yang

Apple still insists on building cars?

Recently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded 69 patents to Apple, one of which relates to the solar energy for the Project Titan. For new energy vehicle owners, charging is a daily problem. In addition to the methods of power exchange and wireless charging, Apple believes that it can also be solved with photovoltaic cells, that is, solar cells.

Apple intends to combine photovoltaic cells with the surface of automobiles, that is, to “paint” the entire body of the solar cell coating, and even cover the coating on automotive glass. It is also possible to use solar panels on seats, instrument panels and other parts inside the vehicle.

If your car is made by Apple

Car Solar Instructions Vehicle Side View Source: Patently Apple

There are already cars with solar panels on the roof to provide extra power, such as the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. However, for cars, the illuminated area is effective, and it is not useful without high conversion rates. In addition, solar panels are mostly made of crystalline silicon, which has high hardness but poor toughness, and is not suitable for body materials.

But Apple intends to change its characteristics. According to patent documents, Apple plans to develop thin-film solar cells with flexible substrates with a thickness of 1-10 microns. Currently, materials for flexible substrates include fabrics, leather, polymers, etc Made of soft materials. Apple believes that other flexible materials such as headphones, shells, covers, interiors, or items with soft surfaces can be used as flexible substrates for thin-film solar energy.

Apple’s Titan plan has become the most mysterious car-building plan. As early as 2014, Apple started to build cars with an asset-heavy model and launched the “Titan Project”. It plans to replicate the success of the iPhone and build a subversive car from scratch.Industry products, and for this purpose frequently dig technical engineers in the field of electric vehicles.

If your car is made by Apple < / p>

Apple’s “Titan Project” Source: Apple

Because of the lack of relevant experience in vehicle manufacturing, the plan was suspended for a while, and it was only reopened in 2016, and the development route was changed from vehicle manufacturing to autonomous driving technology research. Due to the confidential nature of the project and the news that Titan plans to lay off 190 people early last year, some people believe that Apple’s car plan has been stranded.

But in just one year, Apple’s patents in the automotive field have covered automotive hardware, in-vehicle systems, autonomous driving, and power systems. It can be seen that Apple’s automotive ambitions have not stopped.

Restore the whole picture of Apple’s car from patent

No one has experienced Apple’s Dream Car, but from Apple’s 60 or so related patents, it may be conceivable.

With Apple CarKey on your iPhone, you can open the door of your car even if your phone is dead. The smart door hinge allows you to avoid the embarrassment of scratching the car next to you when you drive the door. The biometric technology on the seat belt can identify whether you are drinking or driving at the moment.

If your car is made by Apple

Apple’s seat belt patent Source: Apple

Do not want others to see the inside of the car. You can use the window control system. The light modulator layer above can help you protect privacy. Apple ’s “AC modulation waveform” can also regulate the interior and exterior lighting conditions. Protect driver’s eyesight. The rearview mirror image is projected into the side window glass or head-up display HUD, and an AR map can be obtained through the iPhone or AR glasses. In addition, people who ride a car can also increase ride comfort due to the VR system-the VR experience can make passengers feel that the size of the car they are riding is larger than the real carThe actual size of the vehicle is large, and a virtual view of the real environment can also reduce passenger demand for windows.

If your car is made by Apple

Virtual ground designed to prevent passenger motion sickness Source: Apple

New energy vehicles do not have to worry about charging during long journeys, and the solar car body recharges at any time. Go home and use the autonomous driving navigation system to park your car autonomously. After parking in Apple ’s wireless charging parking lot, the parking space will automatically charge the car.

Although there is no specific product launch for the time being, it can be seen that Apple’s “black technology” innovation in cars is not inferior to Tesla. Not only that, from the perspective of patents, Apple has been iteratively updating its technologies, including autonomous driving, power systems, in-vehicle systems, and body structures.

As far as the power system is concerned, in October 2018, Apple introduced a new battery system to ensure that the air-conditioning, GPS and in-vehicle entertainment systems of electric cars or hybrid cars have sufficient power. According to Apple, vehicles are usually powered by high-voltage batteries, but the equipment inside the vehicle typically runs at lower voltages, so conventional converters can easily cause damage to low-voltage batteries. So Apple introduced a new battery system.

However, this problem has been generally solved after the EV has gradually spread. In July 2019, Apple announced a patent for wireless charging services for self-driving cars. This technology will realize charging when parking, and wireless power will be transmitted from the wireless charging transmitter located in the parking area to the wireless charging receiver installed in the car, completing the wireless charging process, similar to the wireless charging of mobile phones. In addition, sensors installed on the vehicle will record data such as the arrangement of the charging pile transmitters and charging efficiency, and optimize the subsequent parking orientation.

If your car is made by Apple < / p>

Apple’s patent for electric vehicle wireless charging patent Source: Apple

Although the idea of ​​wireless charging parking is still in the laboratory, AppleIf you have already figured out a solution for people who cannot find a wireless charging parking lot in the future, they have developed solar energy technology for cars, so that the entire car can be passively charged for active charging and become an energy absorber.

Maybe Apple keeps patenting, but hasn’t launched related products lately, just like launching the iPhone at that time, it will launch a product that is enough to subvert the entire industry. However, the offline requirements of cars and mobile phones are different. There is no real road test repeated many times, and everything is still just a piece of paper.

Will Apple’s car be seen in 2023?

“Autonomous driving and self-driving cars will not be realized”, Apple co-founder Woz said at the JD Power car revolution conference in Las Vegas last October that he had believed that Apple could do Produce and sell real driverless cars. But a few years ago, he gave up the idea.

“There are many technologies that can help us drive cars more safely, but at least the dumbest people need to control the steering wheel.” Although Woz’s statement revealed that Apple’s car route has shifted from self-driving research to driving Assistive technology research. However, judging from the recent patents, the Apple Titan plan has not abandoned its research on driverless technology, but only added more technologies to enhance the perception of vehicles and drivers.

For example, the new “active suspension” system for autonomous vehicles, which allows the driver to select the desired vehicle height. The damping characteristics provided by the magnetorheological damper may also be based on the detected conditions (such as vehicle acceleration). And take the initiative.

If your car is made by Apple < / p>

Schematic diagram of vehicle functional system Source: Apple

Apple ’s Automated Driving Navigation System (ANS) allows users to preset destinations through Apple Car System CarPlay. After one-click activation, the car will automatically take the user to their destination. There are also road friction coefficient estimation systems that can capture high-precision 4D information, including dual-receiver array radar systems, all of which are self-driving bicycle sensing technologies.

Apple’s supply chain analyst Guo Mingxuan said in an interview with Che Yun that Apple wants to retake the iPhone’s success, that is, to do “software” first, then “hardware”, and finally “service”. In 2023-2025Apple cars were officially launched during the year.

This speculation is not without foundation. Since early 2015, Apple has been hiring employees in automotive-related fields, such as researchers in battery technology and autonomous driving systems. According to foreign media reports, Apple has at least 20 former BlackBerry employees in-vehicle software development. In July 2019, it also hired Steve MacManus, a former Tesla executive who specializes in automotive interior and exterior decoration.

Although Apple laid off 200 employees of its autonomous driving team in early 2019 and transferred many employees to other “critical” projects, internal employees are not surprised by this, according to foreign media reports, and said that this is expected Restructuring.

The latest news about Apple’s autonomous driving is that in October 2019, according to foreign media DigiTimes, citing sources, Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer is currently providing Apple with an unspecified “autonomous driving solution.” Quanta is also one of the suppliers of Google Cars.

Since 2016, we still can’t guess the final shape of the Apple car. Whether the ultimate product of all black technology is a subversion of the times or a useless technology display is unknown, but Apple’s innovative ideas brought to the automotive industry are enough to accelerate the intelligent transformation and upgrading of the automotive industry.

If your car is made by Apple