Apple likely doesn’t have its own physical car in the works, but it does appear focused on self-driving and electric-car technology.
The California-based tech giant has patented what it calls “Peloton,” or essentially, a platoon system for future electric self-driving vehicles.
The company filed the patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday and it describes how a group of self-driving EVs could travel along a stretch of road closely together. The idea is to reduce drag on long journeys at higher speeds. Apple also said in the patent it could reduce travel time.
The word “peloton” refers to the main group of a pack of cyclists. Thus, the idea is to minimize drag for cars behind the peloton, and after some time, the group of cars would switch positions to give the lead cars a break and also take advantage of the efficiency benefits. A reduction in drag could help cars increase their speed while maintaining a certain electricity consumption and extend a car’s range. Apple further suggested in the patent language this technique would minimize the need to stop for charging.
The system would identify an order for the platoon of vehicles and arrange them to maximize the peloton’s benefits. For example, cars with greater battery life or fuel reserves would go to the front, while others ride the efficiency wave.
Perhaps the wildest part of the system isn’t in the idea of arranging cars, but in how the cars could share a charge with one another. The patent also describes electric vehicles using a retractable apparatus to tranfser power is needed as to not disrupt the peloton. An electric car at the back of the pack could technically plug into a lead car to share energy and further increase efficiency. This assumes self-driving technology is smart enough to drive close to another vehicle and execute the maneuver.
We’re not quite there in terms of technology yet, but Apple’s idea to increase efficiency sure is a novel one.
A version of this story originally appeared on Hybrid Cars.