Apple Reinvents the Sliding Doors, Could Power the Apple Car Living Room Experience

Unlike tech rival Google, which is betting big on software and services for its automotive expansion, Apple is developing a full car from scratch.
Sliding door system that could be used on the Apple Car 6 photos
Photo: USPTO
Sliding door patent filed by AppleSliding door patent filed by AppleSliding door patent filed by AppleSliding door patent filed by AppleSliding door patent filed by Apple
Expected to launch in 2025 at the earliest, the tentatively called Apple Car is expected to put technology at the core of the experience in the cabin, with or without a driver – while Apple is believed to be planning full autonomous driving support, recent reports suggested that the car would originally launch with limited capabilities in this regard.

Apple’s automotive ambitions seem to rely on a concept that would certainly set the Apple Car apart from the rest of the crowd. With new-generation technology and autonomous driving, the vehicle would essentially become a living room on wheels. And a recent patent filed by Apple provides us with a closer look at how you’re supposed to get in and out of this living room.

Called “doors with adaptive positioning,” the patent describes a smart version of the traditional sliding door mechanism.

Just like everything else in the Apple Car, the new door system would rely on an army of sensors whose role will be the collection of data related to the position of the vehicle, its inclination, possible obstructions, and even the tire position. This is because, the patent explains, Apple wants the doors to move along the door paths only according to a series of pre-determined values.

For instance, the doors on the Apple Car could move more towards the front and the rear of the vehicle in such a way that passengers would be provided with more space to step inside or outside. This would come in handy in crowded parking spots where other vehicles might restrict access to the cabin.

According to the patent, the doors will be operated automatically by a series of motors controlled by the vehicle’s ECU and which processes the data received from the installed sensors. However, a manual opening mode will also be provided.

The sliding doors concept isn’t necessarily new in the automotive market, but given the push for a living room on wheels, a modern version of the design seems to make perfect sense. On the other hand, the sliding doors also come with a major shortcoming: they require the complete removal of the B-pillar, so Apple needs to find a way to implement this design without compromising the safety level offered by its vehicle.

Given it’s still a patent, there is no guarantee that Apple will eventually use this technology on the Apple Car. Sources with knowledge of the matter suggested the Apple Car could use a much more traditional approach for the first version, so maybe Apple is planning in advance and wants the sliding door mechanism to power an upgraded model due at a later time.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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