August 31, 2017 by Canadian Underwriter
Magna International Inc. unveiled on Wednesday an autonomous vehicle platform it says “can be integrated into any vehicle without compromise to vehicle design and styling.”
MAX4 is a fully integrated, customizable and scalable autonomous driving sensing and compute platform that can enable up to Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities in both urban and highway environments, Magna said in a press release on Wednesday.
The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) International defines Level 4 as “high automation,” where the automated driving system performs all aspects of the driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene.
Magna reported that MAX4 combines cameras, RADAR (radio detection and ranging), LiDAR (light detection and ranging) and ultrasonic sensors with a compute platform that is designed for easy integration with any automakers’ existing and future platforms, including hybrid and electric vehicles. Additionally, Magna’s compute platform, scalable for high-volume production, is “flexible, upgradeable and fully functional with a fraction of power requirements as compared to alternative solutions,” the automotive supplier said in the release.
“Crucially, integration of MAX4 retains an automaker’s existing design and styling freedom for their vehicle, including not taking up cargo space in the rear of the vehicle and personal space in the main compartment,” the release pointed out.
“At the heart of this development is a desire to show the market Magna’s breadth of capabilities and an autonomous driving enabling platform with subsystems that do not compromise the interior and exterior of a vehicle,” said Swamy Kotagiri, Magna’s chief technology officer. “Our focus is on developing production-ready solutions that offer flexibility to integrate and the framework to enable Level 4 technology for when the market is ready.”
One of the targets for Magna was to simplify the way drivers engage with autonomous driving systems, including the option of an intuitive and familiar cruise-control-like user interface that is controlled through the press of a button. A lighted display indicates the vehicle is in autonomous mode, and drivers can disengage that mode via brake pedal or an emergency button.
Magna pointed out that Level 4 automation, according to SAE International, includes vehicles that can perform all safety-critical functions for the duration of a trip in a specified operational design domain with no input from a driver, save for destination or navigation input. To compare, most of the vehicles on the road today equipped with some automation features are classified by SAE as Level 1 or Level 2, requiring active monitoring by the driver.
Magna has been developing and manufacturing autonomous technology features for automakers since the 2000s. Most recently, it showcased its Level 3 autonomous capability with a 300-mile test drive that crossed an international border and in which the vehicle drove autonomously for 92% of the trip.
Magna is a global automotive supplier with 327 manufacturing operations and 100 product development, engineering and sales centres in 29 countries, including Canada. With over 161,000 employees, the company has complete vehicle engineering and contract manufacturing expertise, as well as product (and sometimes electronic and software) capabilities, which include body, chassis, exterior, seating, powertrain, active driver assistance, vision, closure and roof systems.