Over the last year Patently Apple has posted three IP reports relating to a possible future Drone device (01, 02 & 03). Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published two patent applications from Apple that relate to drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The first covers a system and method for pairing/unpairing UAVs to/from UAV controllers.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, also referred to as drones, may be characterized as mobile devices or systems that are used for various applications, such as acquiring or sensing information (e.g., video acquisition or surveillance), delivering goods, or other activities. The usage of UAVs has rapidly increased in recent years, in part due to the many applications in which they can be used. For example, UAVs may be utilized to travel to remote, inaccessible, and/or inconvenient locations to perform various actions. In some applications, a UAV is controlled by a human user (e.g., a user on the ground), where the user uses a UAV controller (UAC) to remotely control the operation of the UAV. In some implementations, the UAC may communicate with the UAV over an existing cellular network. One issue that may arise is what information may be required for the existing cellular network to track and/or control the UAV and/or how to track the UAC. Therefore, improvements in the field are desired.
Apple's first patent application on drones covers apparatuses, systems, and methods for pairing/unpairing UAVs to/from UAV controllers. Embodiments may include various methods for pairing/unpairing UAVs to/from UAV controllers (UACs).
For example, in some embodiments, a wireless device, e.g., a UE such as a UAV and/or a UAC, may initiate, based on a triggering condition, an unpairing of the UAV from a host UAC, e.g., a UAC that is currently paired to the UAV.
Additionally, the wireless device may receive, from a network (e.g., from a network entity, such as an AMF), a configuration update that may confirm the unpairing of the UAV from the host UAC.
In some embodiments, the triggering condition may include any, any combination of, and/or all of (e.g., at least one of) the UAV moving from a location designated as controlled by the host UAC, the UAV moving into a location in which the host UAC is restricted from controlling the host UAV, and/or the host UAC losing signaling capabilities. In some embodiments, the configuration update may include any, any combination of, and/or all of (e.g., at least one of) a cause code, an identifier associated with the UAV, an identifier associated with the host UAC, an identifier associated with an unmanned aerial system (UAS) (e.g., where the UAS includes the UAV and the host UAC), and/or an identifier associated with a target UAC.
Apple's patent FIG. 9 below FIG. 9 illustrates an example (and simplified) block diagram of unmanned aerial system (UAS). As shown, the example UAS includes one or more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a first UAV 132a and a second UAV 132b. The first UAV 132a may be controlled by a first UAV controller 122a operated by a user, and one or both of the first and second UAVs 132a and 132b may be controlled by a second UAV controller 122b operated by a user. The controllers 122a and 122b may transmit command and control (C2) signals to the UAV's to control their operation, e.g., to control their movement. Example C2 signals include signals to steer the UAV's, to move the UAV up or down, to adjust the speed of the UAV's, etc.
Apple's patent FIG. 13A above illustrates an example of an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system initiating handover of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a first unmanned aerial controller (UAC) to a second UAC.
For more details, review patent application 20210352558 titled "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Controller Association," that Apple originally filed in Singapore under number 10202004252X back in May 2020 to keep the project secret.
Alosious Pradeep: Lead, Wireless Design Engineering
Han Pu: Apple Wireless Engineer (came to Apple via Qualcomm)
Javier Ruiz: Mechanical Engineering Technical Lead
Krisztian Kiss: Senior Wireless Standardization Engineer
Srini Nimmala: Sr. Manager, iOS Cellular Software
Vijay Venkataraman: Wireless Software Engineer
Drone Patent Application #2
A second Done patent application was made public today titled "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Tracking and Control" under number 20210349458. The patent covers unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and more particularly to a system and method for tracking and/or controlling of UAVs in a cellular network system. For more information review the patent here. This patent application was also originally filed in Singapore under number 10202002204W.
Considering that these are patent applications, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.