The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has today published a newly granted Apple patent titled “Exterior Lighting and Warning System,” that details controls used in steering, braking, and accelerating an autonomous vehicle (via Patently Apple).
The patent explains how the vehicle’s sensors will gather information on vehicle speed, orientation, and position. The sensors may also gather information on relative speed between the vehicle and a following vehicle, information on risks of a collision between a vehicle and an external object, and more.
Apple also notes that in addition to displaying brake light information on the rear of the vehicle, it may be desirable to display associated information such as vehicle speed, the relative speed between a vehicle following the vehicle, or other information related to the status of the vehicle.
Non-vehicular information may also be displayed (e.g., “tornadoes in area,” “fog ahead on roadway,” “traffic congestion in 1 mile,” etc.). Icons may include warning symbols (e.g., warning triangles, icons that include warning information within triangular boundaries, etc.).
The lighting systems are primarily for future autonomous vehicles, though it could apply to semi-autonomous vehicles as well, notes Apple.