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Apple Granted Patent for Autonomous Driving Navigation System

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【Summary】In a patent application filed in December 2015, Apple Inc. described a navigation system for self-driving (autonomous) vehicles that allows the car to find its own way to a destination by monitoring the route and developing a characterization of it, which can be utilized by at least some portion of a vehicle’s sensor suite to autonomously navigate the route.

Eric Walz    Dec 22, 2017 8:30 AM PT
Apple Granted Patent for Autonomous Driving Navigation System

In a patent application filed in December 2015, Apple Inc. described a navigation system for self-driving (autonomous) vehicles that allows the car to find its own way to a destination by monitoring the route and developing a characterization of it, which can be utilized by at least some portion of a vehicle's sensor suite to autonomously navigate the route. Apple's application was published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

In the application, Apple downplays the effectiveness of map-based navigation for self-driving cars, saying that the development of the maps requires too much cost and time. This is Apple's first patent on Autonomous vehicle technology

Apple's proposed system drives the car "independently of any data received from any devices external to the vehicle, and any navigation data stored locally to the vehicle prior to any monitoring of navigation."

That independence is a result of what Apple calls "virtual route portion characterization" that can be "independent of any overall route" and used by the autonomous navigation system to "autonomously navigate a vehicle along one or more various routes."

These virtual characterizations can be developed "while the vehicle is navigated through one or more roadway portions" and then subsequently be used to allow the vehicle to autonomously navigate through the characterized portions.

Whether or not Apple ever develops the technology is not known. The patent is based on building a virtual image of a common route, for example, your home to your office using sensors and processors to build and refine the image every time the car travels the route, which is significantly different from currently available navigation systems.

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