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Magna unveils Max4 autonomous driving platform

Magna, one of the world’s largest suppliers of car components and technology, has launched an autonomous driving platform. 

Max4 can be integrated into any vehicle without compromise to vehicle design and styling, says the company, adding that the platform can enable up to Level 4 autonomous driving in both urban and highway environments.

The company’s key focus is on scalability and volume production readiness. 

The hurdles to reaching high levels of vehicle autonomy might be in infrastructure and legislation, but not necessarily in technology development.

Magna claims it is proving that, by unveiling Max4, a fully integrated, customizable and scalable autonomous driving sensing and compute platform can enable up to Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities in both urban and highway environments.

Max4 combines cameras, radar, lidar – light detection and radar – and ultrasonic sensors with a compute platform that are designed for integration with any automakers’ existing and future platforms, including hybrid and electric vehicles.

Magna says its compute platform is scalable for high-volume production, and is flexible, upgradeable and fully functional with a “fraction of power requirements as compared to alternative solutions”.

Magna says it has used its full-vehicle expertise in its design of Max4 to overcome traditional obstacles in the development and production of an autonomous driving platform.

Crucially, adds Magna, 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.

Swamy Kotagiri, Magna’s chief technology officer, says: “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.

“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.

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 which crossed an international border, in which the vehicle drove autonomously for 92 percent of the trip.

Magna will demonstrate its autonomous enabling technologies at the upcoming 2017 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany, Hall 8 booth D34.