Magna makes a move on mobility systems
Magna reveals plans to introduce production-ready autonomous systems in 2021 for Europe.
As automotive manufacturers continue exploring the possibilities of SAE Level 5, industry suppliers are working on solutions and components that are likely to become a reality sooner than the proposed dates of full autonomy.
As one of the aforementioned suppliers Magna stated at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show that its future is set around four key areas: autonomy; electrification; smart mobility and lightweighting. When it comes to the first item, the Tier 1 has realized that autonomous technology is already shaping the way that people move and work, so it is committed to a range of ADAS technologies to help make lives easier and support this new mobility age.
“We are working hard on two main products in the AV sector, namely our Autonomous Valet and Highway Pilot,” explained Marc Rother, General Director, Sales for European OEMs, Magna. “These technologies would be categorized as Level 3+ – they would typically be Level 4 or 5, but aren’t because they don’t need all of the sensors required for fully autonomous driving. What we are doing is finding a more affordable approach to Highway Pilot where we are use our own LIDAR sensor technology together with the front camera to enable cars to be driven more than 130 km/h on the highway.”
Rother detailed how the scenarios of moving onto the on-ramp, driving on the freeway and leaving it via the off-ramp have all been engineered to be system-led with no human input. “You are not allowed to sleep because you have to be able to react to situations and get back in control of the vehicle within 15 seconds,” he explains. “We will also have Traffic Jam Assist technology for the highway, so between the two systems it will take away the parts of driving that people don’t like—stop-start-driving and cruising on the freeway.”
He also revealed in Frankfurt that the technology will be deployed in production cars in Europe in 2021. No specific makes or modes were mentioned, but Rother confirmed it would be a high-end vehicle. “From there, we will have to see how it penetrates the market because it is a high-cost option, which is why only premium cars could justify it,” Rother stated. “But maybe in five years enough people will want it in, say, a Golf and we will have to re-consider.
Rother said the direction the company was going in would help reach early adopters of autonomous technology, without the huge investment that is required for more advanced systems. “With Level 4 and 5 autonomy you are putting a $60,000 sensor in a car and it becomes a different business model. With that system, the vehicle becomes a robotaxi and something that is designed to earn money for every mile it runs. What we are offering is for the end customer and for OEMs to bring solutions to their customers.”
Elsewhere on the company’s stand Magna presented its smart mobility seating concept, claiming it was an example of how vehicles could be used and shared differently by making them more adaptable to varying needs. It also demonstrated the work that it had done in lightweighting, with the use of new materials and refining body and structures to reduce overall vehicle weight.
ADAS technology was demonstrated in the company’s Glare-Free High Beam—an array of three batches of 30 LEDs that can be individually dimmed or brightened. “It helps when there is oncoming traffic to dim and then brighten after passing, or when approaching road signs,” explained Rother. “It also gets around the problem of the front camera not being able to see in the dark. The radar might pick up an object but the camera wouldn’t be able to identify it. But if you gave one LED a little blink the camera can spot it and identify it.”