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On Christmas Eve, the United States Patent and Trademark Office released a patent application from Toyota for something called a “car wash judgement system”. It seems to be a system allowing future autonomous cars drive themselves to a car wash when they’re in need of a cleaning. Sounds wild, right?

This simple patent image very clearly illustrates how the system would work.

Toyota describes it as the following in the patent application’s abstract:

“In a car wash judgement system, an acquirer acquires traveling information of a vehicle. A condition retaining unit retains a certain car wash condition. A judgement unit judges whether or not traveling information acquired at the acquirer satisfies the certain car wash condition. An unpaved road information retaining unit retains unpaved road information indicating of an unpaved road. The certain car wash condition includes traveling on an unpaved road by the vehicle. When a vehicle that has transmitted traveling information is an automated driving vehicle capable of performing automated driving  and when the traveling information of the automated driving vehicle satisfies the car wash condition, a car wash instruction unit transmits an instruction signal for moving the automated driving vehicle to a car wash station.”

In layman’s terms, if the car is going somewhere it knows is dirty, it will notify the car wash, which will in turn instruct the car to drive there and get itself clean if need be.

See: Toyota And MIT Working Toward Making Autonomous Cars More Human-Like

The following diagram details the logic of the “judgement unit”.

The system uses a set of parameters and conditional statements to determine whether or not the car needs to be washed, and will run the self-driving protocol to the car wash if it sees fit. Things like positioning information, road conditions, weather, and available time are all taken into account.

Read: Toyota To Invest $400 Millon In Self-Driving Startup Pony.ai

The whole idea begs an interesting question not often thought about: If cars become fully autonomous and are no longer privately owned, how do they get clean? And in this case, it seems Toyota has provided the answer to that question with its car wash judgement system.


Honda has developed a new “mask” for air filters that it’s likening to a facemask for your car. The Kurumask, or car mask, will apparently filter out 99.8% of airborne viruses in 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, there is no real established method for determining how effective the mask is against COVID-19, but, like washing your hands, it likely isn’t a bad idea anyway.

In testing paid for by Honda, which measured the presence of E.coli phage molecules, the Kurumask-fitted air filter removed 99.8% of virus droplets circulating in the air in 15 minutes, and 99.9% of them in 24 hours. For the test, the filter holder of an N-Box microcar, operated on air-circulation mode as less air is brought in from outside.

Read Also: Spruce Up Your 2021 Honda N-One With These Mugen Parts

“We want to make drivers feel safe and comfortable even when they keep their car windows closed in cold weather,” said Takaharu Echigo, who was in charge of the filter’s development.

The Kurumask really does act as a mask in that it can simply be fitted onto the cabin filter and, according to Honda, it’s effective for about a year. It works by using microscopic spikes on its surface to catch and damage viruses passing through it. The team behind it were inspired by academic research that found that dragonflies use similar spikes to keep their wings clean.

Honda says it’s partnering with a team of engineers who are developing a car to transport COVID-19 patients. The idea behind the partnership is to provide a safer environment for the drivers.

The Kurumask debuted on the N-Box, the latest version of which went on sale on December 25, and Honda plans to make it available on other models as well.

圖片來源:tonygrahamtoyota

美國專利商標局(USPTO) 在聖誕夜公開了Toyota所申請的汽車清洗判定系統(car wash judgement system)的專利申請書,光聽名稱會讓人困惑,這是要判定車子洗的有沒有乾淨嗎?其實這專利是用在自動駕駛的共享車上,讓車子能知道自己何時需要清洗,該清洗時得開去哪個洗車廠清洗。有了這項專利後,能確保每個用戶所租到的車子都是乾淨的。

在汽車清洗判定系統專利的摘要中提到,這系統能藉由車輛的行駛資訊來判定洗車與否外,也會將天氣情況考慮進去。講人話就是,系統依照車輛的行駛距離與行駛道路的乾淨程度來判斷這輛車是否該清洗了,若需要清洗時,系統會告訴車輛離他最近的洗車廠,讓車輛自己開去清洗。

 

美國Evo Car共享車 Toyota Prius c 圖片來源:維基百科

是的!車子終於能自己開去洗車廠洗了,但這裡有個問題,洗只是洗外觀,並沒有包含車內清潔;另外,系統是依照行駛距離與車子行駛的路況來判定車子外觀是否需要清洗,完全忽略了車內是否髒了。所以即便有了這套系統,還是需要使用者們的公德心,才能讓每輛車裡裡外外都乾淨。

這項專利將來是用在美國共享的自動駕駛車上,與一般市售車無緣。Toyota與美國電商龍頭亞馬遜的子公司亞馬遜網路服務(Amazon Web Services,AWS)於2020年8月展開合作,未來Toyota將建立一套移動服務平台(Mobility Services Platform,MSP),來處理和分析可用於汽車研發的數據,這其中包含了乘用車、共享汽車與維護通知等。

Tags: Toyota洗車美國商標專利局專利