Earlier this month, Ford was granted a patent that redefines drive-in movies by putting them on your windshield.
The patent, for an "Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System," was granted on March 1 and describes drop-down projection screens to allow riders to watch movies in the car. Unlike existing drop-down screens, these projection screens can cover the car's windshield when the vehicle is in autonomous mode meaning "drivers" can sit back and take in a film on their commute. "Vehicles operating in an autonomous (e.g., driverless) mode can relieve occupants, especially the driver, from some driving-related responsibilities," reads the patent. "When operating in an autonomous mode, the vehicle can navigate to various locations using on-board sensors, allowing the vehicle to travel with minimal human interaction or in some cases without any passengers. Therefore, autonomous vehicles give passengers, especially the person who would otherwise be driving the vehicle, the opportunity to do other things while travelling. Instead of concentrating on numerous driving-related responsibilities, the driver may be free to watch movies or other media content, converse with other passengers, read, etc., while riding in an autonomous vehicle."
Ford's patent includes a setting for if the driver wants to take control of the vehicle, retracting the screen and moving the entertainment system to an in-dash display. The on-board computer would automatically retract the screen if it senses the vehicle needs to switch to manual mode. Currently, Ford's autonomous cars are focused on becoming fully autonomous "in defined conditions, such as highway driving or in smart cities" but outside of these conditions, drivers must take over. In a statement on the matter, Ford spokesman Allen Hall said, "Patent applications are intended to protect new ideas but aren't necessarily an indication of new business or product plans."
Photo: © iStock.