Magna Electronics focuses on developing solutions for driver assistance and safety, body systems, intelligent power systems, engine electronics and liquid-level sensors as well as industrial products. Continuing just-auto’s series of interviews with global automotive suppliers, Matthew Beecham talked with Chris Van Dan Elzen, Director, Machine Vision Systems, Magna Electronics Inc about the company’s latest generation of driver assistance systems in its Eyeris portfolio.

Could you give us an idea of the technologies Magna Machine Vision Systems is developing?

Together with Mobileye, our partner for image processing, Magna Electronics has developed the latest generation of driver assistance systems in our EYERISTM portfolio.  Since introduction of our technologies in 2008, we have expanded our EYERIS machine vision portfolio, which previously consisted of Lane Departure Warning, to now include the following technologies: Forward Collision Warning, Urban/City Automatic Emergency Braking, Full Speed Collision Mitigation, Vision Only Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Automatic High Beam, Intelligent Light Ranging, Glare Free High Beam, Traffic Sign Recognition and Intelligent Speed Adaptation (also known together as Speed Assist Systems). Some of these technologies are readily available on the road today.

By mid-2015, we will further upgrade our cameras to include megapixel imagers that produce higher resolution images with a wider field of view and also store additional memory. This product will fulfill the requirements for Pedestrian AEB from EuroNCAP, as well as improve upon numerous other features which run simultaneously.  An example is reading the time of day from supplemental signs. This is an improvement to the Traffic Sign Recognition function, which has been in production since 2011.

The Opel Insignia was one of the first cars in Europe to have a camera-based forward collision warning system, one of the technologies in Magna Electronics’ EYERIS portfolio.  Could you explain how the features of this technology work?

We have an all-in-one product that houses a VGA imager, image processor and an 8-bit coprocessor. We call this our Gen 2.0, which detects objects, traffic signs, lane markings, and light sources and determines the threat level. When a time to contact threshold has been reached, we issue a warning in the vehicle using chimes and displays to alert the driver of a pending collision. The timing of these warnings has been established through many hours of testing and tuning with our customers, with consideration of government requirements and customer satisfaction. The same holds true for other EYERIS technologies such as Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, Intelligent Light Ranging and Traffic Sign Recognition.

You mentioned that your EYERIS solutions can help carmakers meet tightened pedestrian-safety regulations which will go into effect in Europe in 2015…

Absolutely – the solutions offered within the EYERIS portfolio will help OEMs meet the requirements to detect pedestrians. The Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking portion of EuroNCAP has actually been delayed until 2016, although Magna Electronics’ EYERIS portfolio will include a Pedestrian Forward Collision Warning solution for production in 2014.

Radar-based safety technologies such as advance collision warning and blind-spot detection are becoming more common place on new vehicles. While the possibilities to “assist the driver” seem endless, is there a risk of information overload?

That is always a consideration in the development of Driver Assistance Systems at Magna Electronics.  We must consider the warning priority and interaction required by the driver.  For example, with a Forward Collision Warning, it is important to disengage the Lane Keeping Assist to allow for evasive steering maneuvers if that is what the driver chooses to do.

Collision and lane departure warning systems have recently become part of NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program.  I guess that the market for such technology in North America will grow?

Yes, this became a part of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program in 2011.  This summer, NHTSA has released two test specifications with a request for comment.  These are Collision Imminent Braking and Dynamic Brake Support, and are similar to Automatic Emergency Braking in the EuroNCAP.  All of this combines to create a growing market for Magna Electronics’ EYERIS portfolio.

For some time, advanced driver assistance systems were the sole preserve of the luxury vehicle class yet nowadays features such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems are being offered on the Ford Focus. How do you see the roll out of such ADAS technologies across all vehicles in North America?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto’s QUBE research service