Self-driving car dreams at Apple began in the early 2000s, according to a patent study

By TechThop Team

Posted on: 26 Jul, 2022

Under the 'Project Titan' team, Apple's AAPL self-driving car has been in development for quite some time.

In recent years, Apple has filed several patent applications related to automotive technologies, Nikkei reported Monday, citing a joint investigation conducted by the publication and Tokyo-based analytics firm Intellectual Property Landscape.

According to the report, Apple's patent applications peaked in 2017 before dipping briefly, citing IPL CEO Akira Yamauchi.

The publication of patent applications usually occurs 18 months after the application is filed. Including the yet-to-be-published patent filings, Apple's 2021 patent filings may top 2017's record.

Since 2000, Apple has applied for and published about 248 automobile-related patents, according to Nikkei.

The following are Apple's key findings concerning its auto-related patent filings: 

In 2008, a year after the first iPhone was released, the number of patent applications related to vehicles increased significantly.

Apple initially focused on connecting iPhones to cars with a navigation system that led to Apple Car Play.

In 2016, patent filings grew from 10 to 44, with 66 applications filed in 2017, including those for autonomous driving and entering highway traffic.

Several Apple patents have been filed in the automotive industry, including those about materials, parts, and mechanisms used to build windows, seats, suspension, and other auto components.

In light of this, it is also possible that Apple is developing its cars. There are 30 patents filed by Apple with Intel Corporation INTC in the field of 'vehicle-to-everything' technology.

With V2X, cars can communicate with each other and connect to the 'Internet of Things,' suggesting Apple could be developing its platform.

It is estimated that Apple filed 17 applications for communication between 2020 and 2021, most of which were solo applications. The company may design its chips for its cars, which suggests in-house chip production.

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