Apple who has made billions flogging iPhones and MacBooks appears to see their future in motor vehicles that need Apple consumer products to communicate with the US based Company applying for 248 automobile-related patents since 2000.
A joint investigation by Nikkei and a Tokyo analytics company found that Apple has registered hundreds of patents covering self-driving and other vehicle software as well as in hardware related to riding comfort, such as seats and suspension.
Apple has also targeted vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology, which allows cars to communicate with each other and connect to the “Internet of Things.”
It is not known whether an Apple vehicle will communicate between Matter devices when the new open standard smart home platform is revealed in September.
According to Nikki Asia Apple appears to want to build its own platform and join a growing industry shift from just cars to overall mobility.
Investigators claim that most of the filed patents are yet to be published, eight patents relating to Apple vehicle technology have already been published.
Of Apple’s 27 applications made in 2020, five were published at the same time in 2021.
The number of patents published in 2021 is almost certain to exceed this, according to the Intellectual Property Landscape.
Apple initially entered the auto market development phase in 2014 when it kicked off a project code-named “Titan” to develop self-driving electric vehicles.
At the time, it was believed to have hired many researchers in artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies.
Early last year Hyundai Motor was said to be in talks with Apple, but this was quickly denied.
Nikki Asia said that while Apple remains tight-lipped about its auto ambitions, a close look at its patents reveals the progress it has made in automobile-related technology, which can be broken down into three areas.
Apple initially concentrated on connectivity between iPhones and cars.
Specifically, its initial efforts focused on navigation, paving the way for the 2014 launch of Apple CarPlay, which allows some vehicle functions to be performed with the iPhone.
Then in 2016, patent applications by Apple — which had been fewer than 10 per year until the middle of the 2010s — began to increase, totaling 44 in the year, up sharply from seven in 2015.
In 2017, the company filed a record 66 applications, including those related to autonomous driving.
The third element of Apple’s patent strategy is revealed by a recent increase in applications involving V2X technology.
This includes the next generation of communication between cars, between cars and roads, between cars and pedestrians, and between cars and the cloud.
Improving the safety of autonomous vehicles entails gathering information on traffic lights as well as cars and pedestrians in blind spots.
The technology used for quickly collecting and processing such information is the focus of several other automotive manufacturers.
The application of V2X-related patents offers a glimpse into Apple’s attempt to rethink the driving experience and, importantly, safety.
Recently, Apple filed for more than 30 patents with Intel that involve communications related to V2X and include patents frequently cited by other companies.
But from 2020 to 2021, Apple applied for 17 patents in the field of communication, with only one a joint filing with Intel.
Despite all the patent filings, analysts are skeptical that Apple can compete against a multitude of brands in the automobile market.
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