Apple self-driving car could use joysticks, gestures and 'intent markers' to navigate

Apple's self-driving car plans have waxed and waned over the years, apparently moving from plans to build an entire car to becoming a third-party systems seller allowing established automotive firms to tap into its autonomous tech. 

Regardless of its ultimate plans, a newly uncovered patent shows that it still intends to get out onto the open road eventually.

Patently Apple has discovered a patent from Apple which describes so called "intent signals", different methods for the passenger to let the car know where they'd like it to go.

What are 'intent signals'

All this would occur without a steering wheel still, but gives users options to fine tune specific routes and parking spots.

Intent Signals could be delivered by an onboard joystick, further clarifying voice commands, or even a combination of gestures and smartphone control.

For instance, the joystick could be used to direct the car at junctions for a very light-level of control for the human "driver". In an example given, voice commands could be used when parking at a large general store to park near an entrance where "gardening supplies" are marked, with onboard cameras figuring out what's nearby. 

A phone's accelerometer could be used to point at a parking space and, with the added command to "park over there", make use of a specific spot.

Finally, in a very James-Bond-in-GoldenEye move, touch and gestures could be used to shuffle cars in small spaces, such as to rearrange cars in a drive.

With the methods for interacting driverless cars still very much in their infancy, it looks as if Apple intends to offer as many options as possible in order to make the upcoming revolution as intuitive as possible.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.