February 22, 2007

Referred to as the "Knight Rider Patent" by CrunchGear (link below), Fuji Jukagyo Kabushiki Kaisha (Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd), the manufacturer of Subaru-branded automobiles, was recently granted a patent disclosing "a driving control device for controlling automatic driving of a vehicle by controlling the vehicle speed and automatic steering corresponding to a planned route based upon the set planning route, the current position of the vehicle on the planning route, and the current route of the vehicle." U.S. Patent No. 7,177,760, entitled "Driving control device for vehicle," was issued on February 13, 2007, and includes 18 claims relating to driving control devices and one claim for a vehicle containing such a device. The first claim of the patent claims a driving control device comprising "planning-route setting means," "vehicle-position computing means," "vehicle-direction estimating means," and "driving control means," wherein the driving control means "stops driving control of the vehicle in the event that the differential value of the distance between the future position of the vehicle ahead of the current position of the vehicle and the planning route exceeds a predetermined threshold, and the steering torque exceeds a predetermined value." According to the patent, this device solves the problems of control error causing fluctuation of the lateral deviation of prior art navigation control devices by providing "a driving control device for detecting abnormal situations during automatic driving with high precision based upon the control error and the intent of the user so as to control driving of the vehicle according to the intent of the user."

U.S. Patent No. 7,177,760: LINK
CrunchGear Article: LINK
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. Website: LINK

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Mark Reichel
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I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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