Could this be their next step towards an in-house autonomous EV?
There has been a lot of rumor around whether Apple Inc. will bring out their own autonomous EV but we have yet to hear anything concrete about a release date or even what the thing may potentially look like. What we do get from time to time is evidence that they are working on things behind the scenes. For example, the tech company has just filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office it calls 'Peloton', a name derived from cycling which takes advantage of the principles of slipstreaming.
The information in the application describes the Peloton as comprising of at least two cars navigated autonomously along a roadway in a manner which reduces the differences in relative driving ranges among the vehicles. Say what now?
What we can decipher from this 'technical' explanation, is that it seems that the cars in the Peloton will drive in close proximity to each other, automatically adjusting their distances to make the most of the benefits of slipstreaming.
While the patent does not specifically mention electric vehicles, it is clearly intending this system to be used by EVs as it goes on to say that one of the vehicles could include a power management system which would enable this first vehicle to be electrically coupled to a battery of another vehicle in the Peloton.
This would apparently reduce the range difference between the group of vehicles as it shares the power around. A power connector arm could couple with the interface of another vehicle to achieve this.
We wonder how happy the occupant of the fully-charged Model S would be to share his power with some guy who left home in his Prius with a flat battery. But seeing as this is all clearly way off in the future, perhaps we will all be far more tolerant and understanding by then.
While this all seems beyond the capabilities of today's technology, it is not uncommon for companies to hedge their bets on how things will progress, and while Apple may or may not be developing its own autonomous vehicle, it may find its true calling in the software side of our autonomous EV future.