In March 2018, Lyft and Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna entered into a partnership for self-driving car technology and development. As an on-demand transportation company headquartered in San Francisco, Lyft is known for its own proprietary platform that customers use to hail rides. The smartphone app is available to use in many cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. On average, Lyft provides more than one million rides every day. The company boasts that its usage has increased 100 percent over the past four years. As one of the world’s largest auto parts suppliers, Magna has the capacity to bring Lyft’s technology to mass production.
Adding Artificial Intelligence to Autonomous Driving
With the Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform, Magna has created an artificial intelligence system and software for self-driving vehicles. Instead of using big spinning LiDAR sensors and an array of cameras on the outside of the vehicle, the Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform makes use of solid-state LiDAR and radar that are built into the front and back bumpers. It also uses a few extra cameras that are built into the rearview mirror.
To make driving decisions, the system utilizes a domain controller within the vehicle. This central computer is responsible for doing nearly real-time data analysis and making fast operational choices. So far, Magna has demonstrated its Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform features SAE Level 4 autonomous car technology. This means that the artificial intelligence software is able to do most of the operations and navigation, but a human driver is able to take control of the autonomous car as needed.
Scalable Technology That Can Be Applied as Needed
The Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform features a range of technology features, including automatic emergency braking. This could help to prevent an accident when a human driver is operating the self-driving car. The Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform is also designed to deliver near-autonomous features in a manner that can be scaled up as needed. With the Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform, the human driver could allow the car to do all of the operations and navigation in a long stretch of highway or in a traffic jam. A self-driving car with Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform would be capable of doing its own acceleration, steering, and braking. Magna and Lyft are also working on additional safety features. The companies explain that cars with a higher safety rating are more likely to be purchased by consumers.
What Magna Could Do for Manufacturing Self-Driving Cars
Magna has a big reach when it comes to working with auto parts manufacturing facilities. In fact, some analysts refer to Magna as the biggest automotive suppliers you’ve never heard of. With its connections, the company could build a lot of the necessary computers, sensors, seats, bumpers, and other parts on a massive scale. The economies of scale could make autonomous cars more affordable for both businesses and consumers. A lower price tag could also make it easier to commercialize self-driving cars for ride-sharing services like Lyft.
The Partnership Between Lyft and Magna
Lyft and Magna will develop self-driving car technology together. As a part of their newly formed partnership, Magna is investing $200 million in Lyft. The goal of the partnership and investment is to speed up the deployment of autonomous cars that Lyft uses for its ride-sharing programs. The partnership allows Magna to continue working with other companies on the development of autonomous technology. This means it could license the Max4 Autonomous Driving Platform to other companies that are already in the market for autonomous vehicle technology. Lyft and Magna have not released a timeline on when their autonomous cars might enter the testing phase or be available for use by the public. They have only said that they plan to be market-ready within the next few years.
Continued Research and Development By Lyft and Magna
In addition to its collaboration with Magna, Lyft has been aggressive in seeking out other partnerships. It has a research lab for self-driving car development in Palo Alto, California. The Lyft lab has space for partners such as Waymo, General Motors, and NuTonomy. In January 2018, Lyft allowed guests at the Las Vegas CES trade show to take rides in an autonomous car. The users were able to call the car to their location using the Lyft app that is already in existence.
As for Magna, it has already partnered with several other automakers investing in self-driving vehicles. Its partnerships, research, and development have included work on the BMW 530e iPerformance plug-in electric hybrid autonomous car and the Jaguar I-Pace self-driving vehicle.