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1. (WO2019004914) APPARATUS, SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR CONTROLLING IGNITION OF A VEHICLE
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CLAIMS

1. An ignition control ap aratus (10) for controlling ignition of a vehicle

(270) equipped with a vehicle unit (1) comprising a display (3) and at least one port (5, 5') adapted to receive a user data device (7, 7'),

wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) is adapted to be connected to the vehicle unit (1) and to an ignition circuit (20) of the vehicle (270),

wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) comprises means (11) for activating and deactivating the ignition circuit (20),

wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) is arranged to receive a data signal (S) from the vehicle unit comprising information about activities being detected by the vehicle unit and indicating whether a user data device is inserted into the port (5, 5'),

wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) is arranged to activate the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device (7, 7') is inserted into the port (5, 5') and to deactivate the ignition circuit (20) to prevent ignition of the vehicle (270) if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device (7, 7') is not inserted into the port (5, 5'),

characterised in that if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device (7, 7') is not inserted into the port (5, 5'), the ignition control apparatus (10) is further arranged to receive an override signal (O) and to activate the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) in response to receiving the override signal (O).

2. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to claim 1, comprising a microprocessor (12) arranged to read data signals (S) from the vehicle unit (1) and to control the means (11) for activating and deactivating the ignition circuit (20).

3. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the data signal (S) is transmitted and received in serial communication over a vehicle bus network, including a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus or a Local Interconnect Network (LIN) bus, and/or a wireless network connection, in-eluding Bluetooth®, and wherein the data signal (S) comprises serial data.

4. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the means for activating and deactivating the ignition circuit (20) comprises an electronic switch (11).

5. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to claim 4, wherein the electronic switch (11) comprises one or more of a relay, a transmission gate, an analogue switch, and/or a number of MOSFET transistors.

6. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the means for activating and deactivating the ignition circuit (20) comprises means for generating (12, 15) and sending (13) an activa-tion signal to a control unit of the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270).

7. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the override signal (O) is comprised in the data signal (S) from the vehicle unit to the ignition control apparatus (10) and comprises a se-quence of activities being detected by the vehicle unit (1).

8. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) comprises means (13) for communicating with an external server (300) comprising a database (150) containing data relating to authorised user data devices, wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) is arranged to verify whether the user data device (7, 7') inserted into the port (5, 5') of the vehicle unit (1) is authorised and to activate the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) only if an authorised user data device is inserted into the port (5, 5') of the vehicle unit (1).

9. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to claim 8, wherein the data relating to authorised user data devices comprises an identifier and one or more of a time interval, route details, a list of locations and type of vehicle associated with a user data device, wherein the verification of the user data device (7, 7') inserted into the port (5, 5') of the vehicle unit (1) comprises comparing the data associated with the inserted user data device (7, 7') obtained from the external database (150) and corresponding data obtained from the vehicle unit (1).

10. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to any one of the preced-ing claims, wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) further comprises means (13) for communicating with an external server (300), wherein the override signal is received from the external server (300).

11. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to claims 8 and 10, wherein the override signal (O) received from the external server (300) defines a predetermined sequence of activities to be detected by the vehicle unit (1), and wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) is configured to verify that the sequence of activities detected by the vehicle unit (1) corresponds to the predetermined sequence of activities to be detected by the vehicle unit (1) defined by the override signal (O) before activating the ignition circuit (20) to allow igni-tion of the vehicle (270).

12. The ignition control apparatus (10) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) is arranged to communicate with an external device (400), wherein the ignition control apparatus (10) is arranged to activate the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the ve-hicle (270) in response to receiving an override signal from the external device (400).

13. A method performed by a vehicle ignition control system for controlling ignition of a vehicle (270) equipped with a vehicle unit (1) comprising a display (3) and a port (5, 5') adapted to receive a user data device (7, 7'), comprising the steps:

- receiving (S100) a data signal (S) from the vehicle unit comprising information about activities being detected by the vehicle unit (1) and indicating whether a user data device is inserted into the port (5, 5');

- if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device is inserted into the port of the vehicle unit, activating (Si 10) an ignition circuit (20) of the vehicle (270) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270); or

- if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device is not inserted into the port of the vehicle unit, deactivating (S140) an ignition circuit (20) of the vehicle (270) to prevent ignition of the vehicle (270),

characterised in that the method further comprises the step:

- if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device is not inserted into the port of the vehicle unit, in response to receiving (S120) an override sig-nal (O), activating (S130) an ignition circuit (20) of the vehicle (270) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270).

14. The method according to claim 13, wherein the override signal (O) is comprised in the data signal (S) received from the vehicle unit and comprises a predetermined sequence of activities detected by the vehicle unit.

15. The method according to claim 13, wherein the override signal (O) is received from an external device (400) or external server (300).

16. The method according to any one of claims 13-15, further comprising the steps:

communicating (S150) with an external server (300) containing data relating to authorised user data devices;

- if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device is inserted into the port of the vehicle unit, verifying (S160) whether the inserted user data is authorised; and

activating (Si 70) the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) only if the inserted user data device is verified to be authorised.

17. The method according to claim 16, wherein the data relating to authorised user data devices comprises an identifier and one or more of a time in-terval, route details, a list of locations and type of vehicle (270) associated with a user data device, wherein the step of verification of the inserted user data device comprises comparing data received from the external server (300) associated with the inserted user data device and corresponding data contained in the data signal (S) obtained from the vehicle unit.

18. The method according to claim 16 or 17, further comprising the steps:

transmitting (S180) an unlocking signal defining a sequence of activities to be detected by the vehicle unit from the external server (300) to an external device (400) associated with the inserted user data device;

displaying (S190) the sequence of activities to be detected by the vehi-cle unit on the external device (400); and

activating (S200) the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) only if the sequence of activities defined by the transmitted unlocking signal is detected by the vehicle unit.

19. A vehicle (270) ignition control system for controlling ignition of a ve-hicle (270) equipped with a vehicle unit comprising a display and a port adapted to receive a user data device, the system being arranged to:

- receive a data signal (S) from the vehicle unit comprising information about activities being detected by the vehicle unit and indicating whether a user data device is inserted into the port by means of a communication unit;

- if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device is inserted into the port of the vehicle unit, activate an ignition circuit (20) of the vehicle (270) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) by means of an electronic switch; or

- if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device is not inserted into the port of the vehicle unit, deactivate an ignition circuit (20) of the vehicle (270) to prevent ignition of the vehicle (270) by means of an electronic switch,

characterised in that the system is further arranged to:

- if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device is not inserted into the port of the vehicle unit, receive an override signal (O), and in response to activate an ignition circuit (20) of the vehicle (270) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) by means of an electronic switch.

20. The system according to claim 19, wherein the override signal (O) is comprised in the data signal (S) received from the vehicle unit (1) and comprises a predetermined sequence of activities detected by the vehicle unit (1).

21. The system according to claim 19, wherein the override signal (O) is received from an external device (400) or external server (300) by means of a communication unit (13).

22. The system according to any one of claims 19-21, further arranged to:

communicate with an external server (300) comprising a database

(150) containing data relating to authorised user data devices by means of a communication unit (13);

- if the data signal (S) indicates that a user data device (7, 7') is inserted into the port (5, 5') of the vehicle unit (1), verify whether the user inserted data device is authorised by means of a processing unit (12); and

activate the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) by means of an electronic switch (11) only if the inserted user data device (7, 7') is verified to be authorised.

23. The system according to claim 22, wherein the data relating to authorised user data devices comprises an identifier and one or more of a time interval, route details, a list of locations and type of vehicle (270) associated with a user data device, wherein the verification of the inserted user data device

comprises comparing data obtained from the external database (150) associated with the inserted user data device (7, 7') and corresponding data contained in the data signal (S) obtained from the vehicle unit by means of a processing unit (12).

24. The system according to claim 22 or 23, further arranged to:

transmit an unlocking signal defining a sequence of activities to be detected by the vehicle unit (1) from the external server (300) to an external device (400) associated with the inserted user data device (7, 7') by means of a communication unit (13);

- display the sequence of activities to be detected by the vehicle unit (1) on the external device (400); and

activate the ignition circuit (20) to allow ignition of the vehicle (270) by means of the electronic switch (11) only if the sequence of activities defined by the transmitted unlocking signal is detected by the vehicle unit (1).

25. Use of an ignition control apparatus (10) according to any one of claims 1-12 or a vehicle (270) ignition control system according to any one of claims 19-24 to control ignition of a vehicle (270).