Apple has just won the patent for what it calls “Peloton” from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Comprising a fleet or autonomous peloton of vehicles that could reduce drag for low-performance vehicles, the Peloton extends to the possibility of cars sharing battery power with each other while on the road.
While the patent gives the impression that it’s about a larger Semi type truck, technically the patent could cover a regular family truck that is connected to a family trailer or car connected to a camper on a long family trip.
The patent, explains how a collection of self-driving vehicles could travel along a road close together in a convoy which can prove potential cost savings to passengers and drivers in terms of fuel cost and time on a long journey and at high speeds.
Similar to a peloton of bicycles in motion the system proposed by Apple for vehicles will result in lesser drag helping vehicles at the rear reduce their fuel usage while maintaining speed, or to increase speed while maintaining the current consumption rate. Apple suggests this could be used to increase the navigational range of a vehicle, reducing the number of gas station or recharging stops and journey time by minimizing breaks.
Apple’s system is able to issue instructions to other vehicles, allowing the cars to assemble into an optimal configuration. Apple further suggests that electric vehicles driving together could share reserves with each other. A retractable apparatus could be extended between two vehicles, allowing the two to transfer power if required.
In the case of a convoy of electric vehicles, this could allow a car with a drained battery to be recharged by other vehicles in front. Peloton driving offers benefits to all, provided the driver wishes to let others access to their vehicle’s power reserves. Apple suggests the vehicles would communicate with one another and organize the Peloton based on each car’s distance to its destination
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 illustrates a schematic block diagram of a vehicle which includes a vehicle navigation system and at least one power connection assembly. The vehicle navigation system (VNS), in some embodiments, is configured to autonomously generate autonomous driving control commands which control various control elements of the vehicle to autonomously navigate the vehicle along one or more driving routes.
Vehicle #100 will be understood to encompass one or more vehicles of one or more various configurations which can accommodate one or more occupants, including, without limitation, one or more automobiles, trucks, vans, etc.
The vehicle can include one or more interior cabins (“vehicle interiors”) configured to accommodate one or more human occupants (e.g., passengers, drivers, etc.), which are collectively referred to herein as vehicle “occupants.”
Apple is currently operating a fleet of vehicles in California to test and improve its self-driving system. It is also believed to be working with Volkswagen on the PAIL program, for ferrying employees between Apple offices using autonomous vans.