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Designing Magna’s 3D Surround View with a Photographer’s Eye

Today, Magna is helping global automakers offer affordable 3D surround-view systems on mainstream vehicles. 

Our high-resolution vision technology, which bundles four or more cameras and an electronic control unit, is designed to hit the sweet spot in the market. State-of-the-art automotive camera systems are at the top of shopping lists for car buyers, according to industry studies of new technology. Consumers are demanding this technology, which once was available only on luxury vehicles, and they are willing to pay for it.

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I’m a camera enthusiast and the unofficial photographer for my daughters’ school events, everything from hockey games to homecoming dances. Their friends excitedly ask: “Is your dad coming to take our pictures?” I often put aside my traditional cameras during these special moments and use my smartphone to take pictures. It produces some of the best images and most powerful graphics.

My automotive camera system engineering team also was inspired by lifelike images from smartphones and video games as we developed Magna’s new surround-view camera systems, which are starting to roll out on some of the most exciting vehicles for the 2022 model year and beyond. Today, Magna is helping global automakers offer affordable 3D surround-view systems on mainstream vehicles.

Our high-resolution vision technology, which bundles four or more cameras and an electronic control unit, is designed to hit the sweet spot in the market. State-of-the-art automotive camera systems are at the top of shopping lists for car buyers, according to industry studies of new technology. Consumers are demanding this technology, which once was available only on luxury vehicles, and they are willing to pay for it.

The Magna systems are not only economical, they also enable safer, more convenient driving and parking by allowing the driver to get a 360-degree view around the vehicle in 3D perspective, a more intuitive and natural way. When I look at our system with a photographer’s eye, I see great performance in terms of sharpness of picture, balance of light and shade, excellent color and a more immersive visual experience.

Our technology offers different perspectives and a perfect solution for tight parking spaces. When combined with Magna’s award-winning Trailer Angle Detection and Trailer Reverse Guidance system, it also provides support in backing-up a trailer. A “transparent” view even lets the driver see underneath the vehicle, a convenient feature for off-roading that reveals obstacles such as rocks and curbs.

Magna’s next-generation systems also deliver data to help improve the performance of other vehicle systems. It detects pedestrians and objects to warn the driver or enable automatic emergency braking. It automatically detects and warns the driver when the camera lens is covered by snow, ice, dirt or raindrops.

In the meantime, Magna software engineers and electronics experts are working on future automotive camera technology. Today, the average vehicle is equipped with up to five cameras; in the next five years that will increase to more than 10 cameras. These “digital eyes” will be used to improve vehicle security, safety and convenience. Cameras will be a key part of semi-autonomous safety features, such as collision avoidance and lane keeping assist, for Level 1 to Level 2+ driving. They will also be used to monitor driver alertness, reduce risky behavior such as driver distraction, and to monitor passengers in ride-sharing vehicles.

From the beginning, Magna’s camera technologies have created many “wow” factors. When I brought a test car with our first surround view system prototype home, my daughters checked it out in our driveway with wide-eyed fascination. I was no longer just the unofficial photographer in the background at school events.

“This is so cool,” my daughter Stephanie said, “I’m going to tell my friends, ‘My dad did this!’”

Kevin Lu

Kevin Lu

Magna’s high-performing, advanced driver assist systems are paving the way for global automakers to enhance safety, comfort and convenience for all road users. The company’s next generation cameras and electronic control units enabling 3D and surround view will now be available to more consumers when the system hits the market in 2022.

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