Apple Car rumors are everywhere right now and now Apple has been granted a new patent that could point to a new kind of headlights being used by the autonomous vehicle.
According to the patent the headlights would make use of infrared technology to allow the car to see considerably further into the distance than any human and traditional headlights would be able to.
Spotted by Patently Apple, the patent would allow for headlights capable of allowing a car to see 600ft into the distance. For comparison’s sake, a human and traditional headlights can see around 180ft.
Having a limited effective range (e.g., about 60 meters = 180 feet) for detecting and or classifying objects can reduce safety and/or reduce the speed at which the vehicle can travel safely.
A near infrared sensor with a near infrared illuminator can be configured to capture high resolution image information about objects in or near a path of the vehicle out to a significantly longer range (e.g., 200 meters = 600 feet) from the vehicle.
The increase in distance will allow for nighttime driving that offers increased safety to a level that simply wouldn’t normally be possible. The use of infrared will also work around existing laws that limit how far headlights can throw light into the distance.
A combination of multiple complimentary image sensing technologies may be employed to address the challenges of nighttime or low-light environment object detection and classification. For example, there may be looser or no restrictions on the illumination level of a near infrared illuminator mounted on a vehicle. A near infrared sensor with a near infrared illuminator can be configured to capture high resolution image information about objects in or near a path of the vehicle out to a significantly longer range (e.g., 200 meters) from the vehicle.
If Apple Car is indeed going to ship at some point in the future, and if it really is going to offer the self-driving capabilities Apple seems to want it to, this infrared technology could be vital for its ability to keep us all safe in the dark. However, Apple patents don’t always equate to a shipping product or feature and that’s well worth keeping in mind here.
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