Ford Patents a Windshield Movie Screen for Driverless Cars

Thursday, 10 March 2016 - 10:31AM
Thursday, 10 March 2016 - 10:31AM
Ford Patents a Windshield Movie Screen for Driverless Cars
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As a future with driverless cars draws closer and closer, Ford has just patented the first-ever entertainment system for driverless cars. This might seem like jumping the gun, considering that Ford hasn't even manufactured driverless cars yet, but with the huge leaps in driverless technology from Google, Tesla, and more, Ford is already working on making their autonomous cars the flashiest ones around.

According to the patent, the entertainment system would present media content, such as movies, TV shows, and games, on a display that comprises the whole windshield, at least while the car is in "autonomous mode." When the driver takes over again, the media content would immediately transfer to another screen that is integrated in a less dangerous location, such as on the dashboard, instrument cluster, or rearview mirror (that last one still sounds pretty dangerous, as does watching TV while you're driving, but whatever).

Although Ford claims that they're not in any rush to be the first to manufacture the first autonomous cars (probably because other people have already done it), the "invention claimed in the patent" is an entire operating system, not only an entertainment system: 

Opening quote
"A vehicle system comprising: an autonomous mode controller configured to control a vehicle in an autonomous mode; an entertainment system controller configured to determine whether the vehicle is operating in the autonomous mode or a non-autonomous mode and present media content on a first display when the vehicle is operating in the autonomous mode and on a second display, and not the first display, when the vehicle is operating in a non-autonomous mode."
Closing quote

While other companies, such as Google, envision entirely driverless cars, Ford envisions cars that give autonomous assistance to human drivers, at least for now. Ford Chief Technology Officer Raj Nair said at CES in January (via Forbes) that Ford is attempting to develop vehicles that will be fully autonomous, "but only in defined conditions, such as highway driving or in smart cities." 

However, that may just be for the near future, if this patent is any indication. While patents are not always indicators of future plans for a company, it certainly seems that Ford is aiming for their cars to be autonomous enough to allow drivers to stop paying attention for long periods of time. Either way, whether it's from Ford or Google, we can probably depend on being able to watch movies on our windshields in the foreseeable future.