Speculation has been growing around the future of the rumored Apple autonomous car, but a recent patent has raised the possibility of a completely different vehicle.

The Apple Car has been subject to rumors for an incredibly long time, with many commentators no doubting whether the company will ever bring a self-driving car to market. This latest patent has nothing to do with a car, but “articulated vehicles” instead.

Apple Articulated Bus With Tank Treads
Image credit: USPTO

Will we see an Apple Bus in the near future?

Articulated vehicles have a pivot joint in the middle, much like a large bus. Could this suggest that we might see a large Apple bus sometime soon?

The patent relates to a linking mechanism between the front and back cabins of an articulated chain. The idea is to improve control of the two sections of a large vehicle, while protecting drivers from ice and snow.

“The present invention relates to a steering device comprising a steering member for mutually steering a first vehicle unit and a second vehicle unit of an articulated vehicle which comprises a link mechanism for mutually pivoting said vehicle units, a housing configuration arranged to form a supply space between said vehicle units and a removal mechanism arranged in the supply space, wherein the removal mechanism comprises a heating device arranged to heat air intended to stream through the housing configuration. The invention also relates to an articulated vehicle with a steering member,” reads the patent.

Apple Articulated Bus With Tank Treads
Image credit: USPTO

Patent proves Apple is doing automotive work

Many people will be disappointed that we have not received any news on the Apple Car, but at least this patent shows that the company is thinking about its work in transportation.

The patent could well relate to a fairly useless joint that helps to move hydraulics, the cardan shaft and the brake fluid through the vehicle, but at the same time it shows that Apple engineers are working on automotive projects.

The invention was assigned to Apple from BAE Systems Hägglunds AB designs Sweden, which builds military vehicle systems such as infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) and armored all-terrain vehicles (ATV). It is not clear what Apple is intending to do with the technology.

What is going on with the Apple Car?

It is worth noting that companies tend to apply for patents for things that they do not intend to market. This may be to block rivals from using certain technology, or a way of holding onto ideas for later development.

The Apple Car is the worst kept secret in Silicon Valley, and it has been dubbed Project Titan by the media. There has been no official word on the project from Apple, but hundreds of people have been working on the project.

Former engineers from Tesla and other companies have been enlisted to work under Apple executive Bob Mansfield. Apple CEO Tim Cook has not made any announcement on the plans, but he has hinted that major changes in the industry are on the horizon.

Self-driving cars have run into a bit of difficulty of late with the fatal crash involving a Tesla car that was on autopilot mode. Now that the technology has improved the challenge will be dealing with regulators and convincing the public to hand over control of their vehicle.

Will Apple be able to bring its self-driving car to market to compete with the likes Tesla and Google? Only time will tell.