According to the latest report, since 2000, Apple has filed for and published 248 automobile related patents. The Japanese news site Nikkei and Tokyo-based analytics firm Intellectual Property Landscape researched this matter.
The patents that Apple applied for range from self-driving technology, navigation, suspensions, riding comfort, seats, battery management, and V2X or vehicle-to-everything connectivity for car-to-car communication, to name a few. Among all the patents filed by Apple, most patents are related to communication and navigation. The second most number of patent applications are for autonomous driving.
It takes approximately 18 months after the application for a patent by Apple for it to be published. Apple has eight car-related patents published from last year so far. However, it is expected that several additional patents will be granted later this year. This would lead to the total number of patents from 2021 being published exceeding the number of Apple patents published in 2020.
In the early 2010s, Apple had filed fewer than 10 car-related patents per year. In 2016, Apple filed for 44 car-related patents for the first time. This was followed by 66 car-related patents filed in 2017.
In 2014, speculation first began about Apple working on some sort of a self-driving vehicle. Since then, there have been periodical speculations in the industry about the progress of the “Apple Car”. Recent industry speculation suggests that Apple will be ready to release the vehicle by the end of the decade, with many reputable sources suggesting as early as 2025 as the projected date for the electric autonomous vehicle.
There have been reports of Apple speaking with various vehicle manufacturers and part suppliers over the last few years. If or not Apple intends to partner with any company for the electric vehicle remains unclear. Apple has several patents related to windows, seats, suspension, and other physical car components. Therefore taking these into account, industry speculation indicates that instead of just focusing on autonomous driving software, Apple may be planning on releasing a car.