Update: A law firm known for filing Apple patents now says that the listing of Apple as the patent assignee was a ‘typographical error’ and that the true assignee should be the inventor, BAE Systems. This suggests the firm may have used a boilerplate form and forgotten to remove Apple from the document.

It could only be a matter of time before we started seeing vehicle-related patents for Apple, but the first one spotted by Patently Apple is an odd one: it’s assigned from another company, and it relates to articulated vehicles – not quite what one would expect for an Apple car.

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The patent itself is for a more reliable method of connecting the two halves of an articulated vehicle, such as a ‘bendy bus.’ More specifically, it’s designed to protect the steering member from snow and ice.

The present invention relates to a steering device comprising a steering member for mutually steering a first vehicle unit and a second vehicle unit of an articulated vehicle which comprises a link mechanism for mutually pivoting said vehicle units, a housing configuration arranged to form a supply space between said vehicle units and a removal mechanism arranged in the supply space, wherein the removal mechanism comprises a heating device arranged to heat air intended to stream through the housing configuration. The invention also relates to an articulated vehicle with a steering member.

The patent is assigned to Apple by BAE Systems in Sweden, and the patent drawings seem to show a tracked vehicle, like a tank, but PA did spot an image of an articulated bus on BAE’s website. One suggestion that has been made about Apple’s self-driving car ambitions is that it may be aiming more for an Uber-type ride service rather than private sales, so perhaps a bus isn’t too much of a stretch.

If you have any theories, do share them in the comments …

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