Apple has an idea for self-driving cars to tell riders what they're about to do so they don't get nervous

Key Points
  • An autonomous car patent from Apple shows how a car might be able to tell a person the moves its about to make.
  • It might help alleviate concerns riders have about a car making a sudden move, since they'll know ahead of time.
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook speaks at the Apple Worldwide Developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, June 4, 2018.
Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters

Apple has an idea for self-driving cars that might make riders more comfortable about the idea of the car driving itself.

A new Apple patent spotted by Patently Apple describes a system in which a car can tell riders the route it's going to drive along, which means riders won't be surprised by a sudden change in route. If a car is going to take a quick exit, for example, a rider might be able to see that on a display before the car suddenly pulls off of the road.

It's similar to what exists in Google Maps and Apple Maps today. If you get directions somewhere, you can see the route ahead as well as see the future moves that you'll need to make. Like GPS directions, Apple's patent will tell you the time it will take before it makes its next move.

Apple's autonomous car initiative, reportedly dubbed "Project Titan," has been veiled in secrecy. Last year, a New York Times report suggested Apple had pulled back on its plans to develop a self-driving car.

However, new evidence in July showed thousands of people inside Apple are aware of its autonomous car project. It also recently hired prominent engineers from Alphabet's self-driving car unit, Waymo, and from Tesla, further suggesting Apple is continuing to invest in the project.

Apple hires self-driving car engineer from Alphabet's Waymo unit
Apple hires self-driving car engineer from Alphabet's Waymo unit