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Apple Publishes Patent for Extendable Bumpers, Continues To Puzzle Experts About Entry Into The Automobile Industry

Right then, we’re back with some news about the Apple car. A technological shark that has made billions of dollars selling smartphones and laptops has turned its attention towards the automobile industry. Why? Because the automobile industry is fast becoming a technological race. And when something like this happens, every small bit of news turns into an article.

That brings us to today’s news. Apple has been granted a patent for something outside its usual fare: a retractable bumper for a car. Apple had filed for a patent titled “Extendable bumpers for vehicles” in 2019. Last week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple approval for the same. The idea behind this is to allow the front and rear bumpers to extend and contract on command. What it will do is give the vehicle a dynamic length.

Working of Extendable Bumpers

Let’s try and put this idea in layman’s terms. An inflatable bladder is nested behind the bumper of the vehicle. When the driver gives the command, the system fills the bladder with gas. This command may be direct or indirect (like putting the key into the ignition or putting the vehicle into gear). This will allow the bumper to move from the collapsed position to your normal protruding position.

There will be a flexible hinge on the assembly to ensure that the bumper remains connected to the vehicle body. This will be for either the extended or the collapsed position.

This will allow dynamic repositioning of the bumper. It will allow the vehicle to fit into tighter spaces such as parking lots as well. This type of invention could also create a unique visual appearance along the front and rear of the vehicle. This would otherwise be impossible due to safety standards. It’s not clear how this would play with the current technology of plastic bumper covers and paints.

Apple Publishes Patent for Extendable Bumper of Apple Car
Credit – USPTO

The patent also focuses on vehicular safety. Apple notes that an air cushion will provide added protection for a vehicle involved in a collision. It will also potentially reduce injuries to pedestrians if struck.

Are Cushioned Bumpers An Innovative Technology

Cushioned bumpers seem a little similar to an older technology – bumper shock absorbers. Engineers fixed these oil-filled struts in place, but the safety purposes were similar. However, Apple’s patent specifically covers a gas-filled system that can dynamically reshape a bumper in addition to the safety benefits.

Our Opinion

So, what does this mean for the supposed upcoming Apple Car? Quite frankly, this is still unknown. Apple does this a lot. It patents a lot of concepts that never make it to the shelf. There are also a similar number of patents issued under Project Titan which are no exception.

There are many patents about the proposed electric vehicle that Apple probably won’t implement. Because of that, it’s not necessarily a technology that drivers will see on the road any time soon (if at all). But still, there are many new and interesting patents that companies are filing by the day.

Mihir Tasgaonkar
Mihir Tasgaonkar
A mechanical engineer who loves reading and writing about new technologies in the automobile industry.


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