The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted an Apple patent that showed the Cupertino giant’s plan to give the rumored Apple car “Project Titan” a one-of-a-kind bumper: one that extends when needed, and retracts to save space.

According to the patent published today, one of Apple’s plans for its own car was for it to have an extendable bumper. This bumper can be extended by means of an inflatable structure possibly located inside a hollowed interior section. The bumper can then be retracted by deflating the inflatable structure and then pulling it back using a spring mechanism.

Extendable bumper benefits

Apple Insider noted that this novel design can be of benefit to users. First, by using an inflatable air cushion to extend the bumper, it will provide added impact protection in the event of a collision. The inflatable nature of the design might even protect the bumper itself, as it can simply deflate when the bumper hits something.

Second, the retractable bumper can help drivers when parking their cars. Retracting the bumper will give drivers a few more inches to maneuver in a tight parking space, and will give drivers some additional breathing room when driving in the middle of a jampacked road.

Third, the retractable bumper can be of help when making tight turns. By retracting the bumper, the car will become a bit “shorter” and more capable of making tighter turns without hitting other vehicles or obstructions on the road.

Lastly, an extendable and retractable bumper will add some points for appearance. Engadget described the possible look as “eye-popping.”

Not coming soon

Sure, the idea might be novel, but Apple fans hoping to ride their own Apple car are advised not to hope on it too much. Engadget noted that a few years ago, Apple shifted its focus from working on a physical car into working on self-driving technology. Recently, Apple was reported to be working on a “confidence algorithm” that allows self-driving cars to make accurate decisions on the road.

Nevertheless, although Apple shifted to self-driving tech and laid off nearly 200 employees working on a car project called “Project Titan” earlier this year, the fact that it hired some experts who formerly worked for Tesla should give fans some hope that its car ideas -- including one that doesn’t have a steering wheel -- might still become a reality someday.