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PATENT

Docket No. ASI-3

IN THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE


Applicant(s): Autonomous Solutions, Inc.

Serial No.: 15/138,069 Confirmation No.:


1065
Filed: April 25, 2016

Title: APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR CONTROLLING A Group Art Unit:


VEHICLE 3667

Examiner: Weber, Tamara L.

Customer No.: 110108

AMENDMENT AND RESPONSE TO OFFICE ACTION

Assistant Commissioner
For Patents
PO Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

Dear Sir:
This is a response to the non-final office action of May 5, 2017. Payment for a 2 month
extension of time is submitted concurrently herewith.

Amendments to the Claims begin on page 2 of this paper.


Remarks/Arguments begin on page 10 of this paper.

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Application No. 15/138,069 Reply to Office Action of May 5, 2017
Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

AMENDMENTS TO THE CLAIMS


This listing of claims replaces all prior versions and listings of claims in the application.

1. (Currently Amended) A path controller An autonomous vehicle control system configured

to guide an autonomous vehicle along a desired path, the autonomous vehicle control system

path controller comprising:

a processor; and

a path controller in communication with the processor, the path controller comprising:

an input module configured to receive input signals at the path controller

comprising:

a normal error signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the normal

error signal indicating an off-path deviation of the autonomous vehicle relative to

[[a]] the desired path;

a heading signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the heading

signal indicating a current heading angle of the autonomous vehicle relative to at

least one fixed point within a fixed coordinate system; and

a curvature signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the curvature

signal indicating a curvature associated with a current turn radius of the

autonomous vehicle;

a curvature rate module configured to calculate a curvature rate output signal

based on the input signals received at the path controller, the curvature rate output signal

configured to guide the autonomous vehicle along the desired path; and

a communication module configured to communicate the curvature rate output

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Application No. 15/138,069 Reply to Office Action of May 5, 2017
Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

signal to a steering control system that is configured to receive the curvature rate output

signal and actuate a steering system associated with the autonomous vehicle based on

the curvature rate output signal received from the path controller.

2. (Original) The path controller of claim 1, wherein the steering system is rate-limited and

has a finite steering rate.

3. (Original) The path controller of claim 2, wherein the autonomous vehicle includes a

minimum right turn radius and a minimum left turn radius.

4. (Original) The path controller of claim 1, wherein the input module is further configured

to receive input signals at the path controller comprising at least one of:

a vehicle position signal;

a vehicle speed signal;

a curvature state signal;

a vehicle state vector signal; and

a desired error signal, wherein the desired error signal indicates a desired off-path

deviation of the autonomous vehicle relative to the desired path.

5. (Original) The path controller of claim 1, wherein the curvature rate module further

comprises a linearization module configured to linearize normal error dynamics in relation to the

desired path by integrating one or more derivatives of the normal error signal received at the

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Application No. 15/138,069 Reply to Office Action of May 5, 2017
Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

path controller.

6. (Original) The path controller of claim 5, wherein the desired path comprises at least one

of a straight line, an arc, and a clothoid segment.

7. (Original) The path controller of claim 5, wherein the curvature rate module further

comprises a gain module configured to apply at least one gain value to feedback relating to the

normal error signal to stabilize the curvature rate output signal, wherein the at least one gain

value is selected using a linear quadratic regulator process.

8. (Currently Amended) A method of controlling an autonomous vehicle comprising:

at a processor associated with a path controller configured to control an autonomous

vehicle with a curvature rate output signal in order to guide the autonomous vehicle along a

desired path:

receiving a position and heading of the autonomous vehicle relative to at least one

fixed point within a fixed coordinate system;

receiving input signals at the path controller comprising:

a normal error signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the normal

error signal indicating an off-path deviation of the autonomous vehicle relative to

the desired path;

a heading signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the heading

signal indicating a current heading angle of the autonomous vehicle relative to the

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Application No. 15/138,069 Reply to Office Action of May 5, 2017
Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

at least one fixed point within the fixed coordinate system; and

a curvature signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the curvature

signal indicating a curvature associated with a current turn radius of the

autonomous vehicle; and

calculating a curvature rate output signal based on the input signals received at

the path controller, the curvature rate output signal configured to guide the autonomous

vehicle along the desired path; and

communicating the curvature rate output signal to a steering control system that is

configured to receive the curvature rate output signal and actuate a steering system associated

with the autonomous vehicle to control the direction of movement of the autonomous vehicle

based on the curvature rate output signal received from the processor associated with the path

controller.

9. (Original) The method of claim 8, wherein the steering system is rate-limited and has a

finite steering rate.

10. (Original) The method of claim 9, wherein the autonomous vehicle includes a minimum

right turn radius and a minimum left turn radius.

11. (Currently Amended) The method of claim 8, wherein receiving input signals at the

processor associated with the path controller comprises receiving at least one of:

a vehicle position signal;

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a vehicle speed signal;

a curvature state signal;

a vehicle state vector signal; and

a desired error signal, wherein the desired error signal indicates a desired off-path

deviation of the autonomous vehicle relative to the desired path.

12. (Currently Amended) The method of claim 8, wherein calculating the curvature rate

output signal based on the input signals received at the processor associated with the path

controller further comprises linearizing normal error dynamics in relation to the desired path by

integrating one or more derivatives of the normal error signal received at the path controller.

13. (Original) The method of claim 12, wherein the desired path comprises at least one of a

straight line, an arc, and a clothoid segment.

14. (Currently Amended) The method of claim 12, wherein calculating the curvature rate

output signal based on the input signals received at the processor associated with the path

controller further comprises applying at least one gain value to feedback relating to the normal

error signal to stabilize the curvature rate output signal, wherein the at least one gain value is

selected using a linear quadratic regulator process.

15. (Currently Amended) A computer program product for controlling an autonomous vehicle

comprising:

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a nontransitory computer readable medium; and

computer program code, encoded on the nontransitory computer readable medium,

configured to cause at least one processor associated with a path controller to perform the steps

of:

receiving a position and heading of the autonomous vehicle relative to at least one

fixed point within a fixed coordinate system;

receiving input signals at a path controller comprising:

a normal error signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the normal

error signal indicating an off-path deviation of the autonomous vehicle relative to

a desired path;

a heading signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the heading

signal indicating a current heading angle of the autonomous vehicle relative to the

at least one fixed point within the fixed coordinate system; and

a curvature signal associated with the autonomous vehicle, the curvature

signal indicating a curvature associated with a current turn radius of the

autonomous vehicle;

calculating a curvature rate output signal based on the input signals received at

the path controller, the curvature rate output signal configured to guide the autonomous

vehicle along the desired path; and

communicating the curvature rate output signal to a steering control system that

is configured to receive the curvature rate output signal and actuate a steering system

associated with the autonomous vehicle to control the direction of movement of the

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Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

autonomous vehicle based on the curvature rate output signal received from the path

controller.

16. (Original) The computer program product of claim 15, wherein the steering system is rate-

limited and has a finite steering rate.

17. (Original) The computer program product of claim 16, wherein the autonomous vehicle

includes a minimum right turn radius and a minimum left turn radius.

18. (Currently Amended) The computer program product of claim 15, wherein receiving input

signals at the at least one processor associated with the path controller comprises receiving at

least one of:

a vehicle position signal;

a vehicle speed signal;

a curvature state signal;

a vehicle state vector signal; and

a desired error signal, wherein the desired error signal indicates a desired off-path

deviation of the autonomous vehicle relative to the desired path.

19. (Currently Amended) The computer program product of claim 15, wherein calculating the

curvature rate output signal based on the input signals received at the at least one processor

associated with the path controller further comprises:

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Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

linearizing normal error dynamics in relation to the desired path by integrating one or

more derivatives of the normal error signal received at the at least one processor associated with

the path controller; and

applying at least one gain value to feedback relating to the normal error signal to stabilize

the curvature rate output signal, wherein the at least one gain value is selected using a linear

quadratic regulator process.

20. (Original) The computer program product of claim 19, wherein the desired path comprises

at least one of a straight line, an arc, and a clothoid segment.

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Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

REMARKS
Claims 1-20 are pending and rejected. In the Office Action, claims 1-7 are interpreted
under 35 U.S.C 112(f) as not reciting sufficient structure. Claims 1-4, 8-11, and 15-18 are rejected
under 35 U.S.C 102 as being anticipated by Iwazaki et al. (US2005/0027415-A1, hereinafter
Iwazaki). Claims 5-7, 12-14, 19, and 20 are rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being unpatentable
over Iwazaki in view of Peake et al. (US2015/0346728-A1, hereinafter Peake).
By this paper, Applicants have made an earnest effort to place the application in condition
for allowance by addressing all of the objections and rejections set forth by the Examiner in the
Office Action. Without conceding that the Examiner has set forth a prima facie case of
anticipation and/or obviousness for each claim, claims 1, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, and 19 have been
amended. No new matter has been introduced as a result of these amendments. For at least the
following reasons, claims 1-20 are believed to be in condition for allowance.

CLAIM REJECTIONS UNDER 35 USC 112(f)


Claims 1-7 are interpreted under 35 U.S.C 112(f), or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112 (paragraph
6), as using a generic placeholder module coupled with functional language without reciting
sufficient structure to achieve the function, nor being preceded by a structural modifier.
Claim 1 is amended herein to recite sufficient structure to overcome the interpretation of
these claim elements under 35 U.S.C 112(f). Specifically, claim 1 has been amended to include
the additional structural claim elements of: a processor and a path controller in
communication with the processor. Support for these additional claim elements can be found
in at least paragraphs [0035], [0036], and FIG. 4 of the application as filed.
Claims 2-7 depend from independent claim 1 and also incorporate these additional
structural claim elements. Thus, claims 1-7 as amended herein recite sufficient structure to
overcome the interpretation of these claim elements under 35 U.S.C 112(f) and withdrawal of
this interpretation is respectfully requested.

CLAIM REJECTIONS UNDER 35 USC 102


Claims 1-4, 8-11, and 15-18 are rejected under 35 U.S.C 102 as being anticipated by
Iwazaki.

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Application No. 15/138,069 Reply to Office Action of May 5, 2017
Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

Independent claims 1, 8, and 15 are amended herein to recite features not present in
Iwazaki. For example, claims 1, 18, and 15 have been amended to recite additional claim
elements of at least: relative to at least one fixed point within a fixed coordinate system
and receiving a position and heading of the autonomous vehicle relative to at least one fixed
point within a fixed coordinate system, respectively. Support for these additional claim
elements can be found in at least paragraph [0032] of the application as filed.
These additional claim elements distinguish over the parking assist technology taught in
Iwazaki because the autonomous vehicles taught in the present disclosure operate within a
predefined operating area (e.g., a field, a mine, etc.) that defines a fixed coordinate system
wherein the positions and headings of autonomous vehicles within this fixed coordinate system
are determined relative to at least one fixed point within the fixed coordinate system. In
contrast, the manned cars taught in Iwazaki do not utilize a fixed coordinate system for guidance
in the parking assist mode. Rather, the cars taught in Iwazaki utilize a backup camera and image
processing techniques for guidance by determining the relative position and heading of the car
in relation to a desired target parking position that is selected by the driver on an image acquired
by the backup camera (see at least paragraphs [0021], [0024], [0027], [0029] and FIG. 1 in
Iwazaki).
Accordingly, independent claims 1, 8, and 15 as amended, teach at least these additional
claim elements which are not taught in Iwazaki, and therefore claims 1, 8, and 15 are not
anticipated by Iwazaki. Claims 2-7, 9-14, and 16-20 depend from independent claims 1, 8, and 15
respectively, and are also allowable over Iwazaki for the same reasons. Thus, withdrawal of the
rejection of claims 1-4, 8-11, and 15-18 under 35 U.S.C 102 is respectfully requested.

CLAIM REJECTIONS UNDER 35 USC 103


Claims 5-7, 12-14, 19, and 20 are rejected under 35 U.S.C. 103 as being unpatentable
over Iwazaki in view of Peake.
As discussed above, independent claims 1, 8, and 15 are amended herein to recite
features not present in Iwazaki. Moreover, the combination of the car taught in Iwazaki with
Peake or any other reference that teaches at least the additional claim elements of: relative

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to at least one fixed point within a fixed coordinate system and receiving a position and
heading of the autonomous vehicle relative to at least one fixed point within a fixed coordinate
system would destroy the purpose of the parking assist control system taught in Iwazaki
because the car taught in Iwazaki is not designed to operate within a fixed coordinate system
and/or to determine its position and/or heading relative to a fixed point within a fixed coordinate
system. Moreover, forcing the car taught in Iwazaki to operate in a fixed coordinate system
would render the parking assist control system taught in Iwazaki inoperable for its intended
purpose because it would not allow the driver the freedom of selecting target parking positions
on new images acquired by the backup camera as the driver moves from location to location and
identifies new target parking positions.
In contrast, as previously discussed, the autonomous vehicles of the present disclosure
are designed to operate within a fixed coordinate system defined by an operating area (such as
a field, a mine, etc.), where vehicle positions and/or headings are determined relative to the at
least one fixed point within the fixed coordinate system.
Accordingly, claims 1, 8, and 15 as amended, are not obvious over Iwazaki, Peake, or any
combination thereof. Claims 5-7, 12-14, 19, and 20 depend from independent claims 1, 8, and
15, and all are allowable over these references for the same reasons. Thus, withdrawal of the
rejection of claims 5-7, 12-14, 19, and 20 under 35 U.S.C. 103 is respectfully requested.

CONCLUSION
For at least the reasons set forth above, Applicants respectfully assert that claims 1-20
are in condition for allowance. Other than as explicitly set forth above, this reply does not include
acquiescence to statements, assertions, assumptions, conclusions, or any combination thereof in

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Docket No. ASI-3 Response dated October 19, 2017

the Office Action. If there are any remaining issues preventing prompt allowance, the Examiner
is respectfully requested to contact the undersigned.

Respectfully submitted,

/David Meibos/
______________________________
David Meibos
Attorney for Applicants
Registration No. 45885

Telephone: (801) 677-0700 ext. 101


Fax: (801) 677-0500
Email: dave@maywoodip.com

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