Driving Innovation in the auto industry

Ian Simmons, Vice President R&D, Magna International  

Change is not new to the automotive industry but we currently live in very exciting and challenging times. Vehicle manufacturers and OEMs are faced with meeting future targets for fuel economy and CO2 while also harnessing exciting new technologies to deliver a totally revolutionary autonomous driving experience.

That’s why encouraging, nurturing and supporting innovation is more important than ever.  Historically, a lot of innovation and development in automotive companies was driven internally; but in the last three to four years, we’ve seen more disruptive technology coming from outside.

At Magna we want to stay one step ahead so are keen to engage with academics, entrepreneurs, tech start-ups and SMEs to accelerate their new ideas to help take them into production and to market. As one of the largest global automotive suppliers, Magna has a great track record of commercialising new inventions. We have a depth of experience and knowledge combined with a global business network well versed in taking technology into production on a massive scale.

With any new innovation, the first step is to evaluate the technology and plan a proof of concept. We engage with the team and technology to the point where a collective decision on moving forward can be made.  Once we are confident that a technology works we can quickly apply it on to a vehicle platform for a thorough development and approval program. There is no shortcut to getting new or unique applications onto a vehicle – however good they are – without going through an extended testing process. At the end of the day we have to fail fast and fail cheap to effectivity utilize our own resources and not waste the time and energy of our potential partners.

We are progressively taking new companies we’ve invested in through this process and for some of these businesses we are already at the point of quoting projects to put their technology solutions on vehicles in the 2019 – 2021 timeframe.

Working with wireless

The automotive industry has a tradition of working with other disciplines to embrace different technologies and it is now increasingly clear that its next chapter is inextricably linked to the wireless industry. Clearly, autonomous driving cannot function without wireless, whether it’s vehicle-2-vehicle, vehicle infrastructure or vehicle-to-cloud – wireless is going to become an essential part of the future. So, making sure connectivity is robust and reliable is in everyone’s best interest.

At Magna we’re already leaders in A-DAS (advanced driver systems) and looking at different sensor and fusion technologies as well as powerful software and algorithms. Research in areas such as sensors, camera tech and radars is also a hub of our activity.

The critical role of wireless to the future of our industry is why we are partnering with CW – to help us search for next generation disruptive technologies. The success of CW is borne out of a commitment to wireless innovation and collaboration, characterised by the results of its Discovering Start-Ups Competition and we want to harness this understanding and networking to get the message out that Magna is open for new business!

So, if you have an idea or application that you feel can make a contribution to the automotive industry and could do with a helping hand, you have until June 10 to get your free entry in to the Discovering Automotive Start-Ups Competition.

Ten innovative start-ups or research institutions will be selected from the entrants to present their disruptive technologies and business plans to senior executives from Magna at the CW Future of Wireless International Conference on 21 June 2016. The event conference takes place in the middle of London Technology Week at the IET Savoy, London with the support from UKTI. Magna is one of the conference sponsors along with the likes of Intel, Cisco and Barclays.

For more information, go to: www.cambridgewireless.co.uk/futureofwireless/magna/

Ian will be speaking on Day 2 of FWIC in the Automotive session – see his narrative below.

Ian Simmons VP Business Development at Magna The challenges for connected mobility
The automotive industry has changed more in the past five years than it has in the last 50 and it’s poised for even more change. Drivers of this transformation come from the influences of a sharing economy, stringent fuel economy and emissions targets, and advanced technology challenges of autonomous vehicles, connectivity and the internet of things. Magna is preparing for the future by helping create it. We are working on all these future challenges and opportunities including how future wireless technology can support the Car of the Future.