Patent Details How 'Apple Car' Would Completely Rethink Existing Car Design

Today, Apple gained a new automotive safety patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), which specifies that rumored "Apple Car" may have reversed the current car design to a large extent.

It has been speculated that Apple is designing its own "Apple Car" vehicle. The company has, indeed, proposed a variety of designs to transform the way people drive, including modifications to the sunroof and door design, as well as various internal elements.

Currently, car seats are usually one-way (front-facing), but Apple's self-driving vehicle (Apple Car) may have all the seats facing the middle of the vehicle, like a room where everyone can talk to each other.

Evidently, this new arrangement requires to fundamentally rethink the safety system adopted by the vehicle to ensure the safety of passengers in the event of a collision. In the existing standard scenario, airbags may be installed in certain locations to prevent drivers and passengers from hitting parts of the vehicle or from overstretching the body during the post-crash movement.

However, as described in the Apple patent, if all seats are in the middle of the vehicle, the airbag in the current position will not be able to protect passengers. Apple tried to solve this problem by using a few different elements.

For example, when a collision is detected, Apple recommends the use of expandable partitions. This partition has extendable side arms and additional barrier material. As the patent illustration shows, a sliding inflatable barrier between the passenger and the window can be offered for this purpose.

The extendable sidearm is a way to restrict the passenger's movement in the collision, popping out of the window bar in front of the passenger. Just like in a crash, passengers are thrown forward, but they are fixed by "safety restraints" and an airbag is placed in front of them, limiting their range of motion.

Of course, this can be done in a simpler way. For example, simply deploying a vast airbag on the roof ceiling directly in front of passengers can also restrict the movement of passengers and mitigate the impact. This can even be attained in the form of a seat belt, that is, an airbag is attached to the seat belt.

Apple also claims that if airbags are deployed on seat belts or ceilings, cabin dividers can still be used, but more to prevent the airbags from moving further because it gives the airbags extra resistance against the user’s weight. The partition may also include a hidden tether to guide the deployment of the airbag to a predetermined position.

Moreover, the divider can likewise provide protection for loose items in the car, ensuring that the items on the rear seat are blocked by the bulkhead, rather than being thrown into the front half of the vehicle interior, thereby eliminating further damage from high-speed projectiles.

In addition to airbags, this patent also suggests the likelihood of passengers colliding face-to-face in a collision. For reverse-mounted front seats and traditional rear seats (when the seats are both facing the middle of the vehicle), the front row impact may force the rear passengers to touch the front passenger's feet or knees. Similarly, rear passengers will also feel more shocked.

To lessen the impact caused by the impact and minimize the possibility of contact between passengers, Apple recommends that the seat itself can provide some movement. Once a collision is detected, the seat may move forward a short distance, while the front seat may move farther than the rear.

By moving the seat, the rear passengers feel less force on the body, thereby diminishing the distance their bodies are pulled forward in a crash without increasing the risk of injury. By moving the front seats, the chance of the rear passengers touching the limbs of the front passengers in the same impact will be minimized.

It should be noted that Apple submits a large number of patent applications every week, which only shows the interest areas of the company's research and development work, and cannot guarantee that these concepts will appear in real products or services in the future.

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