Apple has been awarded a patent to allow its self-driving technology signal to other road users what it’s going to do.
The patent is for a “system and method for visual communication of an operational status” and draws inspiration from how human drivers provide indications of intent to others on the road before actually making a move. For example, an individual looking repeatedly in their wing mirrors could signal that they are thinking about changing lanes.
Apple hopes to create a technology that could offer road users similar information in order to make the movements of a self-driving vehicle more predictable.
For example, the self-driving system could signal the next step it is about to make after calculating its route beforehand. A sign or a special indicator could signal when the vehicle is about to stop and provide a countdown timer beforehand.
Apple Insider reports that the technology could also illuminate certain areas of the road where the car intends to move to. Additionally, it could show parking projections where the vehicle will turn into in a bid to ensure pedestrians don’t walk into the vehicle’s path.
In recent months, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published a number of patents from Apple for its self-driving technology. For example, one filing shows how a vehicle could change its driving style based on the stress level of passengers.
For some time, the Cupertino-based company was thought to be working on a bespoke self-driving vehicle. However, the company decided to switch focus and is now focusing solely on autonomous technology it intends to license to established car manufacturers.