Apple patented zone lighting for its self-driving electric car

Apple has applied for yet another automotive patent. This time, the tech giant has filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a smart interior-lighting system.

First spotted by Patently Apple, the document describes a zone-based lighting system that automatically illuminates areas of the interior as needed. Cameras and sensors determine where to turn on the lights.

This could take several different forms, according to the application. Sensors could automatically turn specific lights on or off, or a series of spotlights could activate in sequence based on movement.

Alternatively, cameras could detect that an occupant of a self-driving car is taking out a book or magazine, and automatically switch on a reading light. If a person falls asleep, cameras could see that their eyes are closed and turn off the lights, then use spotlights to wake them when the car is nearing a destination.

Apple store

Apple store

Naturally, the system could also be set up to respond to Siri voice control.

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This is one of several patent applications Apple has filed for car technology. Other recent examples include a system that detects cracks in windows, a sensor enclosure, and a holographic head-up display. Reports that Apple is working on a complete self-driving electric car—sometimes referred to as “Project Titan”—have also begun circulating again.

A December 2020 report said Apple was planning to launch a production car in 2024, with breakthrough battery technology. It was later reported that Apple had hired a Porsche chassis engineer for the project, while Hyundai confirmed that it had discussed a manufacturing partnership with Apple.

Those talks recently ended, reportedly because the automaker is concerned that its reputation will be tarnished if it’s viewed as a mere contract manufacturer for Apple. Talks with Nissan reportedly stalled for similar reasons.

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