GM has filed a patent application for a new remote autonomous vehicle towing system, adding to the automaker’s growing repertoire of AV tech features.
The GM patent filing has been assigned application number US 2023/0082897 A1 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and was published on March 16th, 2023. The patent was originally filed on September 10th, 2021, and lists several Michigan-based engineers as the inventors, including Rasoul Salehi, Yao Hu, Arun Adiththan, Yilu Zhang.
The patent describes a system whereby an autonomous vehicle with a non-functioning autonomous system and functioning drive system can be wirelessly “led” by a second autonomous vehicle to a set destination.
As the GM patent points out, it is possible that issues may arise in an AV’s autonomous systems that may render the vehicle unable to self-drive – for example, hardware problems with the sensor array, or software problems with the onboard algorithms. Although the AV may still have a functioning propulsion and chassis system, the AV system used to guide the propulsion system and chassis system may be rendered inoperable.
In a situation such as this, the GM patent describes a remote autonomous vehicle towing system whereby a secondary autonomous vehicle wirelessly assumes control of the inoperable AV system in the first vehicle, with the secondary tow vehicle wirelessly guiding the first vehicle to a set destination using the still-functioning AV system in the secondary tow vehicle.
This new system proposed by GM could prove beneficial in the event that an AV’s onboard autonomous system malfunctions, providing a quick solution and circumventing the need for a human pilot or tow vehicle that physically transports the inoperable AV to a set destination.
Indeed, as seen previously, GM’s autonomous vehicles, which are deployed by the GM’s autonomous vehicle division, Cruise, will occasionally fail, as evidenced by a string of road block incidents reported by GM Authority.