An interesting Apple patent application published today describes how an AI system could help car drivers identify pedestrians and other hazards when driving at night or in poor visibility …

The patent application spotted by Patently Apple describes three different elements to the safety system.

First, when it detects a hazard, the system may adjust the beam of the headlight to better light the danger. Second, it could use the headlight beam to warn other road users of the car’s planned path.

Finally, and most interestingly, it could use a head-up display to highlight hazards, for example superimposing a dot image of a pedestrian onto a shape that might otherwise not be noticed.

The system would have a database of shape and movement patterns it would use to identify dangers.

A method for illuminating a field of view for a vehicle, the method comprising: receiving scene information of the field of view for the vehicle from one or more sensors in communication with a light controller; analyzing the scene information to detect the presence of an object in the field of view; classifying the object using the scene information and a database of known object profiles; predicting a location of the classified object within the field of view of the vehicle; and projecting, utilizing the light controller, an illuminated indicator at the predicted location of the classified object in the field of view of the vehicle.

While the particular implementation described is a driver aid, the same basic technology could obviously be incorporated into a self-driving car, helping the control system identify hazards.

Little is known of Apple’s current plans for Project Titan. Originally believed to be Apple working on a car, it has since been suggested that such ambitions may have been scaled back to creating technology which could be used by existing car manufacturers.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently suggested that Apple is indeed still working on a complete car, to go on sale sometime in the 2023-2025 timeframe. My own money, however, would bet against this.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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