He Apple Car It remains a huge source of speculation, even after Apple apparently lowered its ambitions around its development. However, the futuristic vibes have returned: those of Cupertino have patented a retractable steering wheel and pedals that “hide” when the vehicle moves autonomously.
This seems to revive the idea of an Apple Car “without steering wheels or pedals” that we knew a long time ago. Nevertheless, Debunk the rumor that the apple car will be 100% autonomous.
As in any patent, the language used in the document is complex and, at times, unnatural. This is because, in this case, Apple is registering a technology that it possibly intends to apply in different scenarios and in multiple evolutions of the same product.
Despite this, the following piece of text makes clear the concept of the retractable steering wheel and pedals that we could see in the Apple Car. Californians describe that the vehicle can include two user input devices. One is listed as a “steering input device”—a steering wheel, come on—and the other is listed as a “driving input device”; that is, a pedal. In addition, Apple mentions two drive configurations: the first, manual, and the second, autonomous.
“The steering input device may be mechanically attached to the vehicle body and can be rotated by the user to control the steering input in the first configuration. A physical separator may be provided between the address input device and the user in the second configuration.
The drive input device may be a foot pedal that is mechanically coupled to the vehicle body and can be depressed by the user to receive drive input in the first configuration. The pedal retracts into a recess in an interior surface that defines the passenger compartment in the second configuration..
The user input devices may be in the first configuration in manual driving mode and in the second configuration in autonomous driving mode. In the second configuration, the user input devices are configured so that they are not physically manipulated by the user.“.
The Apple Car will have a retractable steering wheel and pedals
In its patent, Apple mentions several possible implementations of the Apple Car’s retractable steering wheel and pedals. For example, in a fragment of the document it explains that the dashboard with the car’s instruments —which, at least in part, would be a screen— could also be mobile. Thus, in the manual drive configuration, the steering wheel would remain in front of the dashboard, just like in a conventional car. But when switching to autonomous mode, the steering wheel would be behind the dashboard, and the latter would be located in front of the driver.
As for the pedals —accelerator and brake, logically—, the Apple patent explains that they would remain extended during manual driving. While going into autonomous mode, they would “hide” in a hole, leaving its upper part flush with the floor of the passenger compartment of the Apple Car.
It is evident that Apple has huge plans for the Apple Car. But beware, that it has patented a retractable steering wheel and pedals, does not necessarily mean that it will incorporate them in the first generation of the car. If the vehicle ever comes to light, of course.
Apple revitalizes its car project
Rumors surrounding Project Titan, the codename Apple uses internally for the Apple Car, have been around for a long time. Those of Cupertino have invested a lot in R&D of various technologies that, in theory, would be applied in their car with autonomous capabilities. However, up to here we have never had an official word in connection with this project.
In fact, in the last two years the Apple Car initiative has taken a beating with the departure of several key executives. Among them Doug Field, who commanded the project and went to Ford, where he is today the leader of product development and director of electric vehicles and digital systems. Although it is also true that, to counteract these exits, Apple has recruited people with a lot of experience in the automotive industry. Such the cases of Desi Ujkashevic (Ford) and Luigi Taraborrelli (Lamborghini), for example.
Rumors suggest that we could see the Apple Car in 2025. Although it is not yet clear if the intention of the Californians is to include their new steering wheel system and retractable pedals from day one. What is clear is that the car will not be completely autonomous, and the new patent implies that, at least in principle, this system could work only on highways.