Image via The Verge

What you need to know

  • A patent published today shows Apple is working on a radar technology.
  • A report suggests it could be used to house radar within the body of Apple's rumored car, Project Titan.
  • The system would replace the cumbersome sensors usually associated with autonomous vehicles.

An Apple patent published today could reveal the technology behind a radar system that could one day feature in Apple's rumored car, Project Titan. The patent, titled "Radar system including dual receive array" is purportedly a system that could be housed within the body of a vehicle, in contrast to many other self-driving vehicles which usually have massive sensor arrays on top.

According to AppleInsider

Apple aims to solve part of the problem by making a radar component that is small, lightweight, power-efficient, and cheap enough for mass production.

In Apple's design, it suggests the use of antennas to transmit a radar beam towards a portion of a field of view, along with a vertical antenna array to receive the bounced-back signal. The receive antenna array can consist of multiple antenna elements grouped into sub-arrays, with each sub-array used to receive scatter signals reflected back at it from a smaller subsection of the field of view.

Circuitry is then used to combine the received scatter signals from the antenna array into a combined scatter signal, which is then digitized. A second horizontal receive array performs a similar job, again with sub-arrays and the same process.

A signal processor is then used to process the scatter signals from both vertical and horizontal arrays, and to correlate the data from each to give effectively a 3D radar layout.

There are plenty of references to vehicles within the patent:

the hardware environment 800 is described in reference to a vehicle, such as an autonomous or semiautonomous vehicle to facilitate control of acceleration, braking, steering, navigation, and/or other functions, but other environments may benefit from the use of the environment 800 in other embodiments

It seems that with this patent, Apple is trying to create a radar system that would be fairly cheap, but lightweight and small such that it could be applied to a vehicle with minimal impact on the overall design of the vehicle.

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Whilst we know almost for certain that Apple is working on car tech with Project Titan, it's great to see some of the rumors come to life, even it is only in the form of a patent. There is of course no guarantee that this patent will ever see the light of day in any of Apple's products.

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