A patent application released last month suggests an Apple drone could be in the works. Two more drone-related patent applications came to light today – with original submissions suggesting some attempt by Apple to keep that work.
Patent applications are a matter of public record and of course there are people who have a habit of searching for those filed by Apple in an attempt to target potential new products as soon as possible. It seems that Apple in this case tried to hide its applications…
There are two ways a company can do this. First, in some cases it is possible to delay the publication of a patent application until some time after it has been filed. Second, apply outside the U.S.
As a U.S. company, Apple typically addresses the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), so this is where most people look for clues. Patent applications filed in other countries are less likely to be noticed. Patently Apple notes that the Cupertino-based company initially filed both of these Apple drone patent applications in Singapore, not the United States.
Apple originally filed documentation in Singapore under number 10202004252X back in May 2020 to keep the project secret […] The second patent application for Drone was […] also originally registered in Singapore under number 10202002204W.
However, both are now also filed in the US. The first refers to the methods of pairing and unpairing drones with controllers. It is, of course, written in the usual thick patent, but it seems to describe a method of controlling a drone that is handed over from one controller to another, potentially while in flight.
Apparatus, systems and methods for pairing / unpairing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with / from UAV controllers (UACs). The UAV and / or UAC may initiate, based on the trigger conditions, the pairing / unpairing of the UAV with / from the host UAC and receive, from the network, a configuration update that can confirm the pairing / unpairing of the UAV with / from the UAC and the host. The trigger condition may include at least one of the UAVs moving from a location designated as controlled by the host UAC, a UAV moving to a location where the host UAC is restricted in the control of the host UAV, and / or the UAC host loses signaling capability. The configuration update may include at least one of the causes of the code, the identifier associated with the UAV, the identifier associated with the UAC host, the identifier associated with the unmanned aerial system (UAS).
The second relates to remote control of a drone using a mobile network.
Apparatus, systems and methods for monitoring and / or controlling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as well as monitoring UAV controllers (UACs) within a cellular network. The UAV / UAC can provide the cellular network with tracking information such as speed, orientation, altitude, communication quality C2, request to change communication mode C2, measurement report, RRC status, cell ID, TAC ID, current UAV location, and UAV destination. The network can pass this information to the drone’s traffic management (UTM) system. The UTM can determine, in part based on monitoring information, whether to transfer control of the UAV from the UAC to the UTM. In some embodiments, the UAV / UAC may initiate a UTM to transfer control of the UAV from the UAC to the UTM.
Here, of course, we add our usual disclaimer: Apple patents many things that never hit the market. The company famously says “no” a thousand times for every occasion when it says “yes”.
Anyway, this would seem like a pretty logical product category that Apple could at least explore, given that photography and video are already key areas of focus for iPhones and Macs.
Concept image: Patently Apple
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