So it looks like the vehicle people at Apple didn’t get the memo that they’re supposed to be designing a self-driving car. Instead, they’ve filed a patent for something that looks suspiciously like a tracked, articulated vehicle. Apple Tank 2020?

As first spotted by Patently Apple, the company was just granted 80 patents by the USPTO. It’s not the usual Apple patent, because rather than covering chamfered corners or digital scepters, it’s related to a steering device for an articulated vehicle.

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This is a change of pace for Apple, because while most of us have imagined the company working on some kind of self-driving minivan, they seem to have been quietly designing an armored troop transport. The vehicle pictured in the patent looks a lot like the BAE Systems BvS10 Viking, an amphibious armoured vehicle used by the UK’s Royal Marines. In fact, BAE is working on a commercial version of the same vehicle, and given that BAE is an assignee of the patent, that’s probably what this is.

So what does Apple’s invention actually do? Well:

A steering device comprising a steering member for mutually steering a first vehicle unit and a second vehicle unit of an articulated vehicle comprising means for mutually pivot said vehicle units, wherein the steering device comprises a housing configuration arranged to form a supply space between said vehicle units, comprising means arranged for removal of stuff in the supply space incoming from the surrounding. Hereby the risk of stuff in the housing configuration affecting the steering is avoided/reduced, wherein the reliability thus is improved.

It’s a steering mechanism for articulated vehicles, in other words. Certainly not an Apple Car, and an odd thing for Apple to be working on at all, but it does give us some hints that the company is doing serious R&D into the transportation sector.

Chris Mills has loved tinkering with technology ever since he worked out how to defeat the parental controls on his parents' internet. He's blogged his way through Apple events and SpaceX launches ever since, and still keeps a bizarre fondness for the Palm Pre.