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Apple has today filed a patent for a set of intriguing new autonomous vehicle features called “Peloton.” The filing describes the ability for multiple self-driving cars to share battery capacity via a “connector arm,” dynamically adjust positions, increase efficiency, and more.
Apple says that its peloton system could be used with as few as two autonomous vehicles, but it sounds like many cars could be linked together in a caravan to see greater benefits like increased aerodynamics and more. The summary of the patent gives a good overview of what Apple is trying to accomplish.
A vehicle configured to be autonomously navigated in a peloton along a roadway, wherein the peloton comprises at least the vehicle at least one additional vehicle, is configured to determine a position of the vehicle in the peloton which reduces differences in relative driving ranges among the vehicles included in the peloton. The vehicles can dynamically adjust peloton positions while navigating to reduce driving range differences among the vehicles. The vehicle can include a power management system which enables the vehicle to be electrically coupled to a battery included in another vehicle in the peloton, so that driving range differences between the vehicles can be reduced via load sharing via the electrical connection. The vehicle can include a power connector arm which extends a power connector to couple with an interface of another vehicle.
Apple says that the arm would make a connection between the internal batteries of the vehicles. After more dense descriptions of the apparatus, the filing describes the method of using the system that aims to share energy between multiple vehicles and balance driving range.
A method, comprising: performing, by at least one computer system installed in a vehicle (“ego-vehicle”) configured to be autonomously navigated in a peloton along a roadway, wherein the peloton comprises the ego-vehicle and at least one additional vehicle: based on a comparison of driving ranges of each of the ego-vehicle and the at least one additional vehicle, determining a particular configuration of the peloton, which comprises a particular peloton position in which the ego-vehicle is navigated relative to the at least one additional vehicle, which reduces a difference of the relative driving ranges of the ego-vehicle and the at least one additional vehicle; and generating a set of control commands which cause the vehicle to be navigated in the peloton at the particular peloton position, according to the particular configuration of the peloton.
Apple further describes that the connector arm would be extending from a retracted position when needed.
The method of claim 11, wherein: the power connector is coupled to the at least one battery via a power cable; the ego-vehicle comprises a power connector arm which is configured to extend the power connector from a retracted position in the ego-vehicle, and across a spacing distance between the ego-vehicle and the at least one additional vehicle,
The patent also describes that the autonomous driving system would analyze the driving ranges to determine the organization of the peloton.
One or more non-transitory computer-readable media storing program instructions that when executed by one or more processors cause the one or more processors to: based on a comparison of driving ranges of each of a vehicle (“ego-vehicle”) and at least one additional vehicle, determine a particular configuration of a peloton
Per usual, Apple files many patents that never become a reality, but these are certainly some fascinating details. The full patent can be read here.
At this point, an actual Apple Car isn’t expected. Rather, the company is believed to be spending its time working on an autonomous driving system that other manufacturers will implement. Most recently, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple’s future autonomous vehicle system will make use of its own custom chips by 2023.
Via Apple Insider
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Now that we’ve all spent time with AirTag, it’s time to start thinking about ways to make the product even better. There are several obvious ways to do this that many have noted over the past couple of days. AirTag is an incredibly powerful tool for tracking items, but lots of us would like to allow our friends and family to track important items or ask for their help in finding lost ones. Family sharing is just the tip of the iceberg.Family Sharing
Family sharing is something that would instantly level up AirTag. It would be so useful to be able to share an AirTag’s location with someone else when an item is lost or if an item is important enough that multiple eyes should be kept on it.
In this first example, I imagined what it would look like to share a single AirTag kept in a briefcase with seven people. Aside from sharing items with your family, businesses could get a ton of use out of AirTag this way.
When an AirTag is shared with you, it can be done so temporarily or permanently, much in the same way you can share your iPhone’s location in Find My or Messages. Shared AirTags could show up right in your items list with a clear indicator that they’re either being shared with you or if you are sharing them with other people.
Sharing AirTag is really the biggest thing I’d like to see in the first update to AirTag. If family members can see each other’s devices, why can’t they also see each other’s AirTags? I’d imagine this is something Apple is working on.Home Screen Widgets
A less important but still very useful request I have is for a Find My widget that lets me see my AirTags right from the Home Screen or today view. I can see a different widget for each size class, with the smallest one including additional utility that wouldn’t fit into the larger widgets.
You could use a small widget to see the status of a single item or use the medium-sized widget to see multiple items. Of course, you would be able to choose which four items were shown on the widget, and if you wanted to use multiple medium-sized widgets to show 12 on a single Home Screen, you could. The largest widget could expand on the medium one by adding a map that shows the actual locations of each of the selected items.
While widgets can’t really be interacted with on the Home Screen, they can include buttons that launch into specific parts of its corresponding app. The small widget that displays the status of a single item could have deep links that directly play a sound on the AirTag or start the precision finding process.
I’m absolutely positive there are people out there who will put AirTag on important items that they will always want to know the status of. Widgets are an obvious way to help those customers out.Apple Watch App
One thing that seems like an oversight is the lack of Apple Watch compatibility with AirTag. The Find My app on Apple Watch is exclusively for finding people who share their location with you. Instead of cluttering that app with items, they could add a secondary “Find Items” watch app.
You’d be able to do basic things like see an AirTag’s location on a map, play a sound or start the finding process. Precision finding should work on Apple Watch now that Series 6 includes a U1 chip, which is required for the new finding process. Like family sharing, this is something I imagine Apple is working on already. Precision finding with Apple Watch would be a killer feature. We’ve actually already seen designers mock up what it would look like on the watch.
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BU Sues Leading Tech Firms for Patent Infringement Dispute involves popular smartphones, tablets, other devices
The University has filed a number of lawsuits against some of the brightest stars in the high-tech constellation—Microsoft, Motorola, Sony, and BlackBerry among them—to defend a College of Engineering professor’s patented material used in the production of blue LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which are components in many electronic devices.
The lawsuits, like several others filed earlier this year, claim that the companies made use of Theodore Moustakas’ invention without securing a license from the University. The ENG professor of electrical and computer engineering is the recipient of the University’s 2013 Innovator of the Year Award. BU alleges that the companies are making or selling products that have used Moustakas’ invention without permission and is requesting a jury determination of damages owed the University. The earlier lawsuits target such giants as Apple, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and LG Corporation.
BU Provost Jean Morrison emphasizes the importance of the University’s protecting the research and invention of one of its faculty, particularly when unlicensed use has become so widespread. “We’re protecting our intellectual property,” she says. “We are an Association of American Universities research university and as such, the creation of new knowledge is fundamental to our mission. Ted Moustakas created a process that significantly improves the performance of these products. It’s incredibly important for a university to defend its intellectual property.”
Morrison says the number of defendants—close to 40—reflects the demand for handheld devices whose performance is improved by Moustakas’ invention and the prevalence of companies using the technology without a license from the University. The defendants include makers of both LEDs and of consumer products using those LEDs. The University alleges that companies infringe the patent in selling, among other products, the iPhone 5, iPad, and MacBook Air from Apple; Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2; Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite 6”; and Hewlett-Packard’s Pavilion 14 Chromebook, Slate 7 tablet, and Pavilion 20xi IPS.
“These devices are used by huge numbers of people,” the provost says. “This is first and foremost about protecting our intellectual property and recognizing Professor Moustakas’ pioneering work. We put a great deal of careful thought into the decision to proceed with these lawsuits.”
At issue is the production of “highly insulating monocrystalline gallium nitride thin films,” which enable the manufacture of blue LEDs usable in products such as flat panel displays on handheld devices and televisions, as well as in general lighting. The primary patent asserted in the litigation was issued in 1997, based on an application first submitted in 1991. Blue LEDs are especially attractive because they can create white light under certain conditions, says Vinit Nijhawan, managing director of BU’s Office of Technology Development. Nijhawan says Moustakas’ invention makes those LEDs more effective and easier to produce.
To verify suspicions of patent infringement, the University retained Dallas-based law firm Shore Chan DePumpo, specialists in intellectual property law who have worked for other major research universities here and abroad (including Penn State, the Universities of Virginia and Texas, and the California Institute of Technology). Shore Chan DePumpo hired consultants and laboratories to “reverse engineer” each defendant’s products. Nijhawan says the experts dismantled devices and “cross-sectioned the LEDs into incredibly tiny samples. These samples were analyzed using several state-of-the art techniques, including transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffractometry, and secondary ion mass spectroscopy. The analytical data were reviewed by several independent scientific experts before any legal allegations were made.”
Even then, the University filed suit “only after meeting with several alleged infringing manufacturers and affording them a fair opportunity to take a license at a reasonable royalty,” he says. “Several of those manufacturers refused to negotiate a reasonable royalty, thereby forcing Boston University to proceed with litigation.”Explore Related Topics:
In an exclusive excerpt from Raw Deal, investors see companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods as a way to help save the planet. The problem is, they also want to get rich. Instead, they may die trying.
Climate change has created a very real existential threat to the global food system, which, at current scope and scale, uses far too many resources while leaving far too many consequences in its wake. Scientists and researchers have concluded broadly that if the food industry doesn’t change, humanity will not meet the goals that scientists have laid out to stymie catastrophic climate impacts. That’s why there’s not enough time to throw dumb money at the wrong projects. There’s not enough time for greed to get in the way.
The problem is, within the food system, there are many potential solutions and an infinite amount of factions with competing interests—all of which think they know the best path forward. Many of these folks live in the emerging universe of alternative meat. There are the techno-optimists and the techno-apologists, the lab-grown meat freaks, the lab-grown meat freaks in favor of rewilding, the mycologists, the plant-based bros chasing Silicon Valley money.
But it has its limits.
There’s a reason Impossible Foods was preparing for a potentially $10 billion public listing going into 2023, and that neither Impossible nor Beyond Meat is registered as public benefit corporations, a move that would legally inhibit the companies from putting profit over their envi ronmental mission. Half of Impossible’s investors come from venture capital firms, and the roster even includes a hedge fund, Viking Global Investors. Backers are no doubt ready for an exit, and they want to get Impossible the best deal.
A sustainability halo helps the cause. That’s why it’s sometimes hard to differentiate between businesses that say they are doing right by the environment and ones that actually are. Add to that the pressures of venture capitalists or public shareholders, and decision-making can get muddled further. And the basic tension remains: Is it possible to increase profits while decreasing environmental impact?
Advertising for brands like Impossible and Beyond hinges on the products’ environmental impacts. Impossible claims to use 87 percent less water, 96 percent less land, and 89 percent fewer emissions than beef burgers. Beyond touts 99 percent, 93 percent, and 90 percent, respectively. Given realistic limits for consumption and purchasing behavior, how much could mass commercial adoption actually impact? Despite the hype and fast growth, meat alternatives accounted for 0.2 percent of 2023 grocery meat sales in the United States, according to NielsenIQ.
Alternative milks including Silk and Oatly commanded 11 percent of total grocery store milk sales in 2023, which has stoked expectations for meat alternatives to reach a similar share. But there’s a long way these ambitious forecasts will have to climb. The US plant-based meat industry had $900 million in 2023 grocery sales, according to NielsenIQ. Barclays expects plant-based will rise to 10 percent of total meat consumption, or $140 billion globally, by 2029. Others expect an even rosier picture. One projection puts sales of alternative meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood products at $290 billion by 2035, according to research by alternative protein investor Blue Horizon Corporation and Boston Consulting Group.
The recent adoption of plant-based alternatives comes after several false starts over the decades, which cannot be discounted. Back in 1972, the USDA projected 10 to 20% of all processed meat would be replaced by soy products by 1980.
So what would happen if plant-based meat replaced 15% of projected total US meat consumption by 2030, and what would happen if meat consumption continued to rise and plant-based meat was tacked on as additional? Finally, how much plant-based meat would have to sell at fast-food locations to make a difference?
Richard Waite of the World Resources Institute estimates that the business-as-usual case has U.S. meat production and consumption actually rising by 9 percent by 2030. The main takeaway from Waite is that meat production would fall by an estimated 7 percent if plant-based meat captured 15 percent of the meat market by 2030. Waite called the finding “quite meaningful.” Since the business-as-usual case has meat production at almost double-digit growth, even a tapering off would be big.
Emissions from food production and their supply chains in this case would fall by 65 million tons of CO2. Waite says due to the reduced agricultural land demand, the carbon opportunity cost from avoided global deforestation would fall by more than 320 million tons of CO2. Explained another way, it would be the same as taking approximately eighty million cars, or roughly a quarter of all vehicles in the United States, off the road.
But the dumb money complicates that equation. Alternative proteins raised $3.1 billion in 2023, the most ever in the burgeoning industry’s history. That breaks down to $2.1 billion for plant-based alternatives, including $700 million for Impossible Foods across two raises, $335 million for Livekindly, and nearly half a billion between dairy alternatives Oatly and Califia. Otherwise, cell-based meat raised $360 million in 2023, while fermentation start-ups raised a total of $590 million in 2023, including big checks for Perfect Day (which raised $300 million) and Nature’s Fynd (which raised an $80 million series B and $45 million in debt). Massive checks continued. Nature’s Fynd then raised another round, a series C, that totaled $350 million and valued the start-up at $1.75 billion, followed by NotCo, a Jeff Bezos–backed company run by a young entrepreneur from Chile, which raised $235 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. In 2023, alternative protein start-ups secured a record $3.8 billion in new funding, according to PitchBook.
These big checks are noteworthy because, two decades ago, fewer investors in the food industry had a steadier go of it. Returns for food business exits were expected at around two to five times the initial investment. Publicly traded food conglomerates, pretty much the main acquirers, could pay only so much—for a food brand, one to three times sales for acquisition value was solid. But the climate crisis is emerging at a time when there’s been unprecedented funding flowing into the food and beverage industry, igniting investors and previously untapped financial heavyweights from Sequoia Capital to Goldman Sachs. They see food as a new frontier of investment.
The bad news is, they see it as a last frontier of investment, which means big returns are expected. Some founders don’t understand when they first start that signing a term sheet means two things: First, those investors expect an exit, one way or another. Second, they expect that exit to come with a return—usually at a multiple of what they invested.
The founders often don’t understand what they’re getting into. There’s all this financial capital funneling in to solve the “problem” of meat—but there’s so much frenzy about how much money investors could make in the process that the entire industry could blow up on greed while Big Meat and its Big Macs kick back and watch the whole thing fizzle out. It seems possible that investors wanting to cash in on the next big thing will ruin one of the last possibilities that exists to prepare for a climate-challenged future.
Excerpted from Raw Deal published by One Signal/Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2023 by Chloe Sorvino.
Apple just wrapped up its biggest event of the year, where it announced a bunch of new software updates, refreshed Mac Studio and Mac Pro with M2 Ultra, along with an all-new 15-inch MacBook Air. However, one of the best bits of the event was Tim Cook revealing the long-awaited Apple Vision Pro.
Apple Vision Pro – Design and buildApple Vision Pro – Hardware specifications Cameras
Apple has also equipped the Vision Pro with a high-precision eye-tracking system that offers a ring of LED illuminators and IR sensors. This system projects invisible light patterns onto the eyes to track their movement for responsive input without needing to use any kind of hardware controller.Chipset Audio
Last but not least, the Apple Vision Pro also features an entirely new Spatial Audio system that delivers sound through dual-driver audio pods present on both sides. Apple states that these audio pods support new audio ray tracing tech, which matches the sound to your room’s acoustic properties.
Apple Vision Pro – Software and user interface
Vision Pro’s high-end hardware is accompanied by an entirely new spatial computing operating system dubbed visionOS. Similar to Apple’s other operating systems, visionOS features a dedicated Home View where you access all of your favorite apps and useful utilities. Moreover, once you open an app, you can easily resize it or place it anywhere you want it to be.
Apple states that its new operating system looks and feels like it’s present in your room with its 3D interface. Moreover, the UI elements in visionOS are designed in a way that they respond to light and even cast shadows. This makes everything you see feel realistic for an immersive user experience.
Features of Apple Vision Pro
Apple Vision Pro offers a seamless way to blend your digital and physical environment to enhance what you can do at home or at work. With apps like Notes, Messages, Keynote, Safari, FaceTime, and hundreds of other iOS and iPadOS apps available on the App Store in visionOS, you can do it all. Here’s a quick rundown of all the other features offered by Apple Vision Pro:Infinite App Canvas for multitasking
One of the best features offered by Vision Pro is the ability to multitask with Infinite App Canvas. With this feature, you can easily open and arrange multiple floating app windows around you in space. You can layer apps on top of each other or even place them above, below, or next to other apps.
Infinite App Canvas even allows you to wirelessly project and expand your Mac’s display into Vision Pro just by looking at it. This is great for times when you might need a huge portable 4K display that can be accessed privately.
To make it easier for you to type and navigate through apps with Infinite App Canvas, you can use Vision Pro’s dictation or virtual keyboard feature. However, if you prefer physical input devices, Vision Pro also supports several Bluetooth accessories, like Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard.New FaceTime experience
Apple Vision Pro gives you powerful ways to connect with others thanks to its all-new spatial FaceTime Experience. Now all participants appear in life-size video tiles that float around or above existing app windows for better multitasking. Moreover, FaceTime on Vision Pro also supports Spatial Audio.
FaceTime on Vision Pro works seamlessly with other Apple devices so that everyone can join in. There’s also support for SharePlay so you can quickly share apps, collaborate on presentations, share photos and videos, or even watch movies together, just like if you’re physically present with them.Engaging entertainment experiences
To take Cinematic Environments to the next level, you can easily scale your virtual screen up to a maximum width of 100 feet. Additionally, you can also expand any content beyond the dimensions of a room with ‘Environments’ that let you control how immersed you are by turning the Digital Crown.
Spatial photos and videos
Apple Visio Pro also has something for those who would love to view photos or videos captured with their iPhones on a huge screen with the redesigned Photos app. Moreover, Apple states that every panorama you’ve ever taken on your iPhone now expands and wraps around you for better immersion.
Pricing and availability
Witness the world through a new vision!
There you have it, the era of spatial computing is here, and Apple Vision Pro is its forerunner. So, whether you’re a professional looking for a way to push your craft to the next level or a tech enthusiast eager to explore the endless possibilities offered by this groundbreaking platform, tighten your seatbelts and get ready to witness the world through a whole new vision.
Ayush is a tech enthusiast turned tech journalist and how-to writer with a knack for explaining complex topics clearly and concisely. When he’s not writing, you can find him studying the latest trends in consumer technology, binge-watching videos from his favorite tech YouTubers, or diving into immersive open-world games.
Apple Car rumors have been floating around for years, and a new report from Reuters today shed more light on the highly-secretive project. According to the report, production of the electric Apple Car could start as early as 2024, and Apple is once again planning to build its own branded vehicle.Apple Car battery technology
The Reuters report explains that central to Apple’s strategy is a new monocell battery design that “bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials.” This battery design would allow for more active material to be packed inside, potentially offering longer range, the report says.
Furthermore, Apple is examining lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry for its vehicle, Reuters reports. Tesla has also indicated it has plans to use this battery technology, as our sister site Electrek reported earlier this year. LFP batteries offer lower-energy density than other types but are less prone to overheating and don’t use cobalt.
Apple’s technology could also “radically” reduce the cost of batteries, the report adds.Shifting strategies
Recent reports had indicated that Apple would likely focus on developing a self-driving system, then working with another auto manufacturer to implement the system. Today’s report, however, says that Apple is once again planning an Apple-branded car.
The report cites two people familiar with Apple’s plans and says that since a shakeup to the Project Titan team in 2023, things have “progressed enough” that Apple now plans to build a vehicle for consumers.
It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles. And there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car, one of the people added.
Apple Car might also feature LiDAR sensors for scanning different distances, similar to the most recent iPhone and iPad models. Apple is reportedly working with outside partners for “elements of the system,” including the LiDAR sensors. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has referred to LiDAR as a “fool’s errand.”
The Reuters report cites an anonymous person who worked on Project Titan. “If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone,” the person reportedly said.
”It’s next level. Like the first time you saw the iPhone,” that person said of Apple’s battery technology for Apple Car.The potential for delays
The Apple Car/Project Titan rumors have ebbed and flowed over the years, and the project appears to be continuously evolving in scope. Just recently, Bloomberg reported that Apple has shifted the leadership of its self-driving car project to John Giannandrea, its senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy.
Today’s report is some of the deepest details we’ve gotten on Apple Car recently. While production could begin in 2024, the report does caution that pandemic-related delays “could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.”
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