Apple is currently known to be working on a VR headset, an Apple Car, and seemingly an Apple Drone. Not much information is known at the moment on how a possible Apple-branded drone would look like, or what additional features it may have to stand out among the competition, but it’s clear that Apple is working on one, and there are signs that it tried to hide it from the public eye.
Unfortunately for Apple, patent applications are a matter of public record, and it’s hard to not get discovered when you’re a trillion-dollar company (via 9to5Mac). Apple tried to hide the patent by applying for a patent outside of the US, in Singapore to be exact. American companies usually apply for patents in their home country, and when someone applies for a patent in another country, it’s often less likely to be discovered by media outlets such as Patently Apple.
Patently Apple discovered the patent, which was filed in Singapore, rather than the US.
“Apple originally filed in Singapore under number 10202004252X back in May 2020 to keep the project secret […] A second Drone patent application was […] also originally filed in Singapore under number 10202002204W.”
Both patents have now been filed in the US, and the first one talks about how a controller can be paired and unpaired while it’s in use by the owner. Patents are often very vague and don’t properly describe the exact use, and the first one is supposedly describing the method of controlling a drone and giving it up to another controller while the drone is in use.
“Apparatuses, systems, and methods for pairing/unpairing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to/from UAV controllers (UACs). A UAV and/or a UAC may initiate, based on a triggering condition, a paring/unpairing of the UAV to/from a host UAC and receive, from a network, a configuration update that may confirm the paring/unpairing of the UAV to/from the host UAC. The triggering condition may include 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. The configuration update may include 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).”
The second patent talks about how the drone can be controlled and the connection required to be used from far away.
“Apparatuses, systems, and methods for tracking and/or controlling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well as tracking UAV controllers (UACs) within a cellular network. A UAV/UAC may provide a cellular network with tracking information such as speed, orientation, altitude, C2 communication quality, C2 communication mode change request, measurement report, RRC status, cell ID, TAC ID, current location of the UAV, and destination of the UAV. The network may forward this information to an unmanned aerial system (UAS) traffic management system (UTM). The UTM may determine, based in part on the tracking information, whether to transfer control of the UAV from the UAC to the UTM. In some embodiments, the UAV/UAC may trigger the UTM to transfer control of the UAV form the UAC to the UTM.”
As always, take this with a grain of salt, since most of the patents usually never make it to the market, and they’re only there to protect the business’ ideas from being used by other companies. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Apple join the drone market, given that Apple has an excellent reputation for its video-making techniques, software, and hardware in the iPhones and Macs.