For those who are looking forward to the Apple Car, the first vehicle-related patent of Apple will come as a surprise.
Apple Car enthusiasts might have been expecting the first vehicle-related patent of Apple to be for a groundbreaking new design on the chassis, engine or any such component. However, the patent that Apple received is not something that can be readily associated with a possible "car of the future."
According to the approved patent filing acquired by Patently Apple, the patent is for a steering device for an articulated vehicle, which has a permanent or semi-permanent pivoting joint that allows it to make sharp turns. For those having trouble imagining it, examples of such vehicles are semitrucks, which have joints in the middle of their bodies that bend when they make turns.
The invention covered by the patent is for a steering device that will provide a better connection to two compartments of an articulated vehicle while also providing improved steering, with the steering device placed inside an enclosure that will provide ballistic protection. The invention looks to solve the problem with the currently used steering devices that are vulnerable to external impact, such as effective fire when in war situations.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent to Apple, but the original application was approved to a Swedish subsidiary of global defense company BAE Systems last year. BAE Systems manufactures and sells military vehicle systems, with its primary products being armored all-terrain vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles and turret systems.
According to military tech author Russell Phillips, the proposed technology covered by the patent could be used to improve military trucks such as the Bandvagn 202, which is used by the Swedish army. The new steering device would help in controlling the front and back units of the vehicle at the same time so that when the vehicle is steered to go left, the wheels at the back will turn right to help make the turn.
The question being asked right now is what would Apple do with such a military-focused patent in relation to the rumored Apple Car?
It should be noted that many consumer technologies were first designed for military purposes before being adopted in devices used by civilians, such as autopilot navigation and GPS.
The proposed steering device, if it will be incorporated into the Apple Car, will definitely give Apple's rumored vehicle a different look compared with the electric cars currently out in the market such as those sold by Tesla Motors.
Nevertheless, the approved patent goes to show that Project Titan, Apple's rumored vehicle development division, is beginning to release unique work, with many more expected to be unveiled soon.
Fans who are hoping for an Apple Car release in the near future should not hold their breath, though, as a report last month revealed that the expected launch was pushed back by one year to 2021 due to the many challenges that Project Titan has faced.