As technology continues to advance, it’s becoming clear that many cars will soon be able to drive themselves. While there’s definitely something enjoyable for many people about manually driving a car, it’s easy to see the benefits of letting an AI do the work. Whether it’s to relax and prepare for your day during a morning commute or to take a small break during an extended road trip, there are many situations in which a self-driving car could make life just a little bit easier. It’s no surprise, then, that a recently filed patent has revealed key details on Apple’s navigation system. With how big of an industry autonomous car tech will become in the next few years, it’s clear that Apple wants to get in on the ground floor with an innovative solution to all of our driving woes.
Apple’s Navigation System
Apple CEO has called Apple’s navigation system the “mother of all AI projects.” Whether this is an exaggeration or a reasonable statement remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Apple definitely has something going for them — and that’s just from the information we can glean from the patent.
In the patent, Apple lists some key steps that their research is taking to make a more efficient autonomous driving experience. Currently, there’s a need to consistently remake detailed maps so that self-driving cars can navigate efficiently. Apple’s navigation system seems to take a different approach.
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Most autonomous vehicle systems function using static information like maps, combined with sensors that adjust for elements that change from day-to-day. This combination of static information and real-time adjustments reduces the computing power needed during a normal drive.
Apple’s navigation system will apparently guide a car “independently of any data received from any devices external to the vehicle, and any navigation stored locally to the vehicle prior to any monitoring of navigation.” The new technology will use a computerized model to predict routes using just the processor and sensors included in the vehicle.
The Cars of Tomorrow
It’s important to note that patents are really just a legal way to protect ideas. There’s no telling how far along Apple is with these developments, and it’s even possible that an end product will never come to fruition. Still, it’s an interesting take on the autonomous car and a departure from the way that navigation tech is currently designed.
If any company has the resources to dedicate to AI research, it’s Apple. As one of the biggest companies in the world, they have access to the talent and funds needed to make a serious impression on the autonomous technology market. With Tesla currently the main player when it comes to self-driving cars, Apple’s navigation system technology could potentially shake things up and drive innovation forward.
Whether this new technology will shape the direction of the autonomous car industry, or if it’s a bust remains to be seen, but the potential for improvement is definitely there.
Despite autonomous cars largely being safer and responsible for fewer accidents than a human driver, the technology isn’t yet at a point where widespread adoption is feasible. Even if Apple’s navigation system doesn’t turn out to be a viable option, the fact that such an influential company is getting involved in this area of technology is certain to light a fire under competitors.
We’ll likely see more self-driving cars in the years to come as technology improves and the feature becomes more affordable. Whether or not Apple’s navigation system will eventually pilot a fleet of self-driving cars, it’s clear that the company is interested in this rapidly growing area of AI — and has some serious research with which to hit the ground running.