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Apple wanted its self-driving car to have extendable bumpers

By Shawn Knight · 16 replies
Jul 2, 2019
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  1. Apple in late 2015 filed a patent for extendable automotive bumpers, presumably as part of its Project Titan self-driving project. The patent was published Tuesday and describes a unique take on the traditional vehicle bumper although the goal of the patent isn’t entirely clear.

    The patent describes a retractable bumper that can expand and contract via an inflatable structure. It sounds interesting enough and although Apple probably had some solid reasoning behind why it should exist, we aren’t privy to that information.

    Some argue that a retractable bumper could be used to shorten a vehicle’s overall length, saving a few inches in a parking lot or perhaps even impacting its turning radius. Neither of these are really all that important in the grand scheme of things and almost certainly aren’t worth the trade-off with regard to what it would cost to implement the feature.

    If Apple were truly concerned about these things, wouldn’t they just make the vehicle shorter to begin with?

    One could also argue that an extendable bumper may help improve safety during low-impact collisions, perhaps for pedestrians. Google filed a patent for an external air bag of sorts in 2013 for its self-driving vehicles to reduce injury to a person struck by one of its vehicles.

    These are only a couple of the possibilities Apple may have been thinking of but given Project Titan’s reportedly narrowed scope, it may not matter all that much today. After all, most patents never make it into products that see the light of day.

    Permalink to story.

  2. noel24

    noel24 TS Evangelist Posts: 524   +468

    2008 Citroen GT prototype on the photo, unfortunately butchered by some selfmade Photoshop amateur with Apple logo, and probably thrown into stock library.
    About article, extendable crumple zone makes most sense and would actually be possible in todays car, when most new upper-class ones got radar/adaptive cruise control and sensors for detecting imminent collision.
    Knot Schure and Digitalzone like this.
  3. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,385   +1,015

    Apple was never going to build a car. Why would you take on that liability when you can build a $300 phone and sell it for upwards of $1000???

    And they weren't gonna buy Tesla either.
  4. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,591   +933

    "Some argue that a retractable bumper could be used to shorten a vehicle’s overall length, saving a few inches in a parking lot or perhaps even impacting its turning radius."

    Wait, WHAT?! Please tell me this is a joke.
    Does ANYONE believe these theories? Please chime in.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,533   +3,913

    It would actually be a very good idea. Since the mid 1970's when car makers eliminated this, damage to cars has increased dramatically. While they might not seem as stylish, they served a purpose and the best ones would protect against damage at speeds as much as 15 mph. You do that now and you can easily have thousands of dollars in damages!
  6. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 890   +427

    More important question is, will Apple slow down the car to only 30 mph over time to protect the battery ?
    Knot Schure likes this.
  7. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 186   +114

  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,075   +4,083

    What Apple most likely wanted, is to file this patent so they could sue anybody else that came up with something even remotely similar.
  9. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 186   +114

    Makes no sense considering the prior art I've linked to.
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,075   +4,083

    "Knight Rider" is cool, (or rather "groovy" as per that period), but really has no basis in reality. Not to mention the fact the car "KITT" is fictitious, and all of the performance enhancing devices portrayed were non functional..

    By comparison, for your claim to be legitimate, whoever invents the "warp drive", would owe royalties to Gene Roddenberry's. estate. (Of course when the copyright finally expires on the "Star Trek" sequence of shows, the "warp drive's". ultimate inventor, would be free of such obligations).

    However, as I understand it, Apple abandoned its pursuit of an autonomous auto, but filed the patent anyway. Which de facto, prohibits any other company from using it without licensing or royalties.

    Now run along and do your homework, and find out how many Pontiac "Trans Ams", were destroyed making that series.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
  11. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 186   +114

    You're obviously confused here. The Knight Rider car with the extending bumper was actually a practical model, ie. they were built for real. What has no basis in reality is Apple's drawing, which is just a drawing, and - to our knowledge - has not been actually built in reality.

    The rest of your comment is irrelevant and/or nonsensical.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,075   +4,083

    I'm not confused at all. There were many "Knight Rider" cars, most all of which were destroyed filming the series. Your off the rack Trans Am simply wouldn't take the abuse the producers would like you to believe.they would.

    Whether or not Apple's drawing has a basis in reality is a moot point. They were granted a patent on the drawings, they have no plans to continue with the production of an autonomous car, which would still grant them 'enforceable patent rights.

    You just don't quite get it. Whether or not "KITT" had retractable bumpers is also a moot point. If they're not registered with the US patent office, they have no claim to the design.

    The patent on those (alleged) "retractable bumpers", would likely be still enforceable, as the movie is from 2008.

    So, instead of annoying me any further, either contact NBC, or Universal, and tell them, "Apple stole your bumper idea". Maybe they'll pitch you a twenty for the heads up, or more likely, they'll just shred your letter.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,075   +4,083

    @FF222: You're whole agenda here, is very simply put, you want to be acknowledged about "how smart you are, how clever you are, and how perceptive you are, at discovering "retractable bumpers", in some trash Knight Rider movie.

    There isn't anything imagined in a sci-ft movie resulting in a marketed product, which has resulted in a valid patent lawsuit of which I'm aware.

    While Apple isn't busy overcharging for iPhones, their legal staff is oftentimes trolling for "patent infringement lawsuits", they can make money litigating. Apple has been at war with quite a few other companies in lawsuits which have lasted years. Patenting this bumper arrangement for a car they have no intention of producing, is nothing, if not providing future busy work for their legal department.
  14. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 186   +114

    Dude, you just simply have absolutely no clue how patent law works and what prior art is. The fault for that lies entirely with you. Trying to blame others for your ignorance won't change that. Not even a little bit. It will just expose you for what you are.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,075   +4,083

    There's another "urban myth", that if you write a song, all you have to do is put a copy in the mail to yourself, and the postmark will serve as legal proof the you were the one who wrote it. Many tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of aggravation later, you might even be vindicated. On the other hand, the judge might rule that it was "parallel development", or "not similar enough", to warrant compensation.

    Intellectual property issues being somewhat similar across patent, copyright, and trade mark disputes. it's easy to figure out why you're the only one who's even contesting this infantile issue.

    Gee, I wonder why the producers of the Knight Rider movie haven't taken up what to you, seems to be an obvious patent infringement

    As I said previously, you just want to argue, to be noticed, to brag that you've endured a stinker of a movie, that "The Hoff's" the man, and throw around a few insults.

    And, I've long ago come to the conclusion that if typewriters were penises, you'd have the biggest one in town. Now please post back some more crap and insults, and prove me right.

    CODA: Prior to yours, there were only 5 (five) posts to this topic. That lack of interest should have given you the heads up, that this topic is, pretty much a non starter.

    Modern companies file patents so that they can sue other companies for violating them. Try and get that through your head.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  16. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 186   +114

    Obviously you have no clue of copyright law either. For starters look up the Berne Convention, which explicitly states that copyright emerges by the moment a creative work is created, without any need of registration.

    Not that copyright would have to do anything with patents, and wouldn't either be a straw man of yours or simply the proof of your total ignorance on the subject of intellectual property laws. Just saying.
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,075   +4,083

    Actually I had a course on copyright and professional photographic legal concerns. Of course, I didn't learn anything, as you might imagine, given your vast knowledge of all things concerning intellectual property.

    You just go right on thinking that the moment you create something it's automatically copyrighted. In fact, a good test would be to do some "exotic art photography", and just toss it up on the web. Then you can file suit when you find it plastered all over a hundred different websites.

    And when you ask for a take down, you'll be asked to prove it. And you can say, "I just did that the other day, so it's automatically copyrighted". And they'll likely tell you to go f**k yourself, as well they should.

    So when are you going to hook up with the creators of the Knight Rider movie, expose Apple's "infringement on their bumper patent", and start earning some cash?

    One would think that would be a profitable and rewarding alternative to running your yap at Techspot, telling me how much you know, and how much I don't.

    Let's try again, Modern companies file patents so that they can sue other companies for violating them, even if they have no intention of utilizing the patent themselves.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019

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