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Maybe we'll see the apple car in nine months

via:GeekPark极客公园     time:2020/12/21 20:27:43     readed:1452

Some people attribute the success of Tesla, an electric car company, to learning the essence of apple. Tesla's electric car is also regarded as the "iPhone with wheels". The key point is that Apple may think the same way - adding wheels. Why don't I add them myself? Recently, the media quoted Taiwan manufacturers as saying that Apple may launch electric vehicle products two years in advance, and the expected time will be the third quarter of 2021, which is about nine months later.

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According to the news, manufacturers are preparing to step up production of electric vehicle parts in the second quarter of next year.

Previously, it was reported that Apple had tested several prototypes on California roads. The latest news about Apple's electric car products is that John giannandrea, Apple's director of artificial intelligence, has become the new leader of the company's car building program.

This year can be said to be a year when new car companies hit the bottom and rebounded. Not only did Tesla's share price soar, but its market value exceeded the sum of all traditional car companies. Domestic new car companies such as Weilai, idealist and Xiaopeng are also favored by investors in the capital market, and their sales are bullish all the way.

As the benchmark of consumer electronics and even the whole technology industry, Apple's new car project named "Titan" has attracted much attention, but it has been in the fog. Even if Apple's apple car "jumps" nine months later, Apple's joining the new car building camp alone has brought more attention and expectation to the industry.

Apple made a car, named "Titan"

In February 2015, a rumor spread that Apple was engaged in electric vehicle projects. In order to form a team, Apple also poached many talents from Tesla.

In 2016, Apple's car building project, known as Titan, had a solid hammer. The source of the revelations is the CEO of Tesla, musk, who was poached in large numbers. He said Apple might build a compelling electric car: "if you hire more than a thousand engineers to do this, it's hard to hide it."

However, the Titan project did not go as smoothly as expected. Perhaps it is to realize that building a car is an extremely difficult and complex thing. Since 2017, the focus of Titan project has shifted to "autonomous driving" and put the development of autonomous driving software in the first place. It was also from this year that cook publicly acknowledged the fact that Apple was developing autonomous driving technology.

Since the end of 2017, Apple has gradually begun to disclose patents: the largest number of patents in 2018 and 2019 are 31 and 32 respectively. Before the end of 2020, Apple has applied for 28 patents related to automobiles

▲从 2017 年开始,苹果逐渐开始加大对汽车方面的专利投入|极客公园制图Since 2017, Apple has gradually increased its investment in patents for automobiles | geek Park mapping

Apple, which started building cars in 2015, has also begun to make efforts in the last three years. Titan project has become an open secret.

From the perspective of categories, we divide patents into three categories: autonomous driving, vehicle shape and cockpit, and novelty experience. Among the three categories, the number of patents related to vehicle shape and cockpit is the largest, and a large part is about the interaction between the driver or passenger and the car, which is also closely related to automatic driving

在车辆内外进行研发,是苹果比较关注的领域|极客公园制图Research and development in and out of vehicles is an area apple is more concerned about | geek Park mapping

However, the development of Titan project was not smooth sailing.

In the process of transformation to automatic driving, Apple has laid off dozens of employees; since then, it has successively laid off 400 employees in 2019 and 2020, and the project leader has changed many times. It can be seen that Apple's plans for cars are uncertain.

However, from the perspective of patent applications, Apple's car building is not stagnant, but more and more clear. Among the 92 patents, some features of Apple car can also be roughly sketched out.

ICAR, what kind of car is it?

What does Apple look like? Will the interaction in the car be as smooth and user-friendly as we operate the iPhone? In order to describe the car and the car in detail, the car is divided into three parts: car cabin and car driving.

Novelty experience

First of all, it is absolutely certain that Apple cars will have AR (augmented reality) windscreens.

Ar has long been known to science and technology enthusiasts. For car fans, the combination of AR and windshield also has many "precedents", namely ar-hud. Head up display, also known as head up display, can project important information such as speed, navigation signs, etc. in the process of driving to the windshield in front of the driver. In essence, it is for driving safety and does not allow the driver to look down or turn his head to look at other screens in the car.

Because HUD is a complex component which integrates optical design, structure design, ECU design and software algorithm, the technical threshold is high. Compared with the traditional HUD, AR HUD has a stronger sense of science and technology, and has a higher degree of integration with road conditions. In the process of popularization, there are still many problems to be overcome, such as technology and industrial chain.

Apple, on the other hand, uses the windshield as a "screen.". According to a patent disclosed in 2018, apple can provide information to drivers or passengers behind the transparent surface by "laying" a layer of computer images on transparent surfaces such as glass.

▲苹果汽车 AR 挡风玻璃概念图|Patently AppleApple car ar windshield concept map

Simply put, apple projects computed images (augmented reality) onto the windshield, making it easy for drivers to view real-time road conditions and other information. In the example given by apple, augmented reality can be used for real-time navigation of road conditions.

What's more, the windshield shows more. For example, when there are many tall buildings in front of you who don't know the specific location, the driver can say "the building in front" or point to a building in front. According to the identification inside the car, the windshield can display the specific information of that building and navigate to it;

The windshield can even show the speed of all vehicles ahead. According to the difference between its own speed and the speed limit of the road, apple car calculates the speed of the opposite party by spatial positioning in the environment, which can not only see the real-time speed of the other party's vehicle, but also tell the driver whether the vehicle exceeds the speed limit of the road.

When traveling overseas, if you encounter language barrier, the windshield can translate road signs in real time, which is very friendly to foreign tourists.

In order to prove that Apple really made the windshield into a screen, it also made two more interesting functions. The co driver can watch streaming video on the windshield, and the driver can use FaceTime video to talk. The former is completed by installing a screen in the car in most vehicles, while the latter does not require the driver to use a mobile phone in the car. This is exactly the best proof that Apple wants to replace the screen with it.

▲通过 AR 屏幕显示,可以做很多交互|Patently Apple

A lot of interaction can be done through ar screen display

Of course, to make the windshield a highly centralized and intelligent device, it must be connected with any sensor in the car.

According to apple, the vehicle includes multiple sets of external and internal sensors, with the external responsible for generating environmental data and the internal responsible for user data, including visible light cameras, infrared cameras, ultrasonic sensors, depth cameras and radars. A large number of devices are integrated together, which is more than twice as difficult as mobile phones, but at the same time, the new experience can also reach a new height.

Autonomous driving

Apple has already used artificial intelligence in its mobile phones, tablet computers and other devices. The most typical example is that each generation of chips contains a neural network engine, which makes it convenient for mobile phones to run a large number of AI calculations.

It's the same in cars. Apple applied for two patents on automatic control of motor vehicles in 2018. The patent specifically mentioned that Lee Teuk can be used for multitasking output, including changing lanes, observing pedestrians, motion control, etc.

Now it seems that this technology is not very difficult to realize. The most important use of vehicle AI chip is the real-time identification and analysis of external environment data and feedback to the vehicle. But Apple's two patents are detailed about how to achieve it, such as the use of neural network for automated driving vehicles to transfer data to multiple tasks, and then judge by each task. For example, when analyzing road images, the data will be fed back to the vehicle navigation system in real time.

Real time recognition and analysis of images is the "necessary skill" of all automatic driving

Navigation also works well with the AR windshield mentioned above. In autopilot, passengers can stop the car in the same position by combining gesture and voice. If the position is not accurate, you can also use the iPhone's virtual joystick to fine tune. It sounds like Tesla's call mode.

There is still a huge space for autonomous driving technology to grow up to now. Apple, which started later, does not have much advantage over waymo, cruise and other companies that focus on autonomous driving. In the annual report of automatic driving vehicle survey published in California, Apple has more than 60 vehicles on the road, compared with 153 of the first automated driving test companies in waymo.

And the report data shows that apple is paying more and more attention to the automatic driving test. Not only has the number of vehicles reduced to 23, but also the test mileage has dropped significantly, from 79745km to 12140km.

In comparison with pure technical parameters, Apple has not tasted any good, but its unique advantage, intelligent device, combined with automatic driving is quite interesting.

In a patent to be published in 2019, Apple has moved on the least impressive seat belt. According to the information described in the patent, after the automatic driving mode is adopted, the user has leisure time in the car, and can communicate with others or watch the content. The safety belt in which, has played a "operation core" role.

▲一条安全带上装载了众多传感器|Patently Apple

A seat belt is equipped with many sensors

For example, touch or gesture control the induction setting on the seat belt, which can control the vehicle, including window height, seat position, multimedia player, etc.; the seat belt is also equipped with a microphone and loudspeaker to facilitate passengers to talk. In addition, the microphone can monitor the pressure of passengers based on voice/ Emotional health; of course, there are safety considerations. The sensors on the seat belt can measure the vital signs of passengers, including heart rate, body temperature, blood alcohol content, etc. The safety belt is powered by solar energy. When the vehicle is parked outside in the daytime, it is a good time for the safety belt to "charge".

Vehicle shape and cabin

This part involves the vehicle itself, and apple has done a lot of articles inside and outside the car.

First of all, in the car door, you can see the humanized side of apple. In addition to the traditional way of opening the door, the door can be located adaptively based on the data of the body sensor. In a narrow parking space, when there are vehicles on both sides, the door can be opened in sliding form, as shown in the following figure:

▲自适应车门 | Patently Apple

Adaptive door | paternally apple

Also making the change is the bumper on the outside of the vehicle. Different from the traditional fixed bumper, Apple's bumper can be changed according to the collision in order to absorb the impact force and avoid damaging the vehicle.

The bumper adopts inflatable structure, which is filled with compressed gas, and can extend 20-160mm when expanding. According to the impact reaction, the front end of the bumper reacts differently. When the oblique object is impacted, the bumper can adapt to the shape of the opposite object

▲可以改变形状的弹性保险杠|Patently Apple

A flexible bumper that can change its shape

From a safety point of view, the bumper is a good entry point, and in the car, Apple has made many improvements for safety.

The design of automatic driving vehicle is different from that of ordinary vehicle. There is no steering wheel and brake accelerator. The seats are facing each other in two rows of passengers. At this time, the traditional air bag is no longer applicable. To this end, apple redesigned an airbag system. When the vehicle collides, an inflatable barrier pops up from the side window to block passengers.

A simpler way is to install airbags on the top of the cockpit or in the seat belt to cushion the impact of vehicle impact. Apple noted that the traditional airbags may deviate when they don't have enough reaction time to fully protect drivers and passengers. The latest design can fully protect passengers from injury.

As mentioned in the "novel experience", a large number of sensors are arranged inside and outside the car, which are not entirely for augmented reality display and automatic driving. These sensors can judge whether the driver is in a healthy state and whether the surrounding environment of the vehicle is safe, which are all within Apple's consideration.

For example, a patent named "dynamic element protection" mentions that if the door is opened after parking, when bicycles or pedestrians pass by in front of and behind the vehicle, the door will automatically lock, and the door can not be opened until the danger is removed.

Everything is for safety and for the comfort of users on the basis of safety, which may be one of the logic of Apple's thinking in the automotive industry.

Looking for the next growth

Apple's attempt to build a car was foretold more than a decade ago.

Shortly after the launch of the iPhone in 2007, jobs made it clear that he was very interested in Apple cars, and at one point put the design and manufacture of cars on the agenda. At this time point, it's about the same time that Tesla launched its first roadster.

At that time, the company may not be determined to invest in the development of smart phones, but it may not be able to see the huge potential of the company.

To be sure, apple, as one of the most valuable companies in the world, shares the cognition of other giants that automobiles may be the only consumer goods market with larger and more potential than mobile phones, and it is also a new driving force for the giants to continue to grow.

In recent years, both vehicle companies and automatic driving companies have begun to develop rapidly, leaving fewer and fewer opportunities for new players. In terms of patents alone, Apple has also speeded up on cars, showing a sense of urgency to find a new direction before the bonus on mobile phones disappears.

Whether it can catch up with the window period is still unknown, but Apple may have a reason to choose the time point now. It is just that if we want to reproduce the glory of leading the industry change again, apple must be more decisive and surprise people more.

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