As anyone who’s had to linger longer than ideally planned at a traffic light knows, nothing would be more convenient than a roadway filled with green lights. Now, with the help of Audi’s new Traffic Light Assistance system, this smooth-driving dream is quickly approaching reality.
Audi’s latest project focuses on how your car can impact your positive experience with traffic lights, rather than how traffic lights can be altered to impact your experience in your car. Instead of relying on long-distance cameras to track stoplights, the system uses local traffic light data sources, in addition to navigation information, to keep track of when the upcoming light will change. This combination of data is presented to the driver on the dashboard in the form of a colored traffic light icon complete with a countdown to the next light change, which signals to the driver how they should adjust their speed in order to avoid a full stop.
While being tested in Europe, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this technology has amazing potential for gas conservation. Drivers would save approximately 900 million liters (237 million gallons) of fuel in Germany alone with the use of this new system. Additionally, in models with Stop/Start technology, the Traffic Light Assistance system will stop the engine at a red light and restart it five seconds before the light turns green, which will conserve even more energy.
Although it seems like there might be a potential increase in reckless speeding in order to make green lights with the inclusion of this system, there actually might be a greater chance of the opposite. Consumerreports.org pointed out that “This has a potential safety implication as it can help reduce red-light running, as drivers won’t get caught in a yellow-to-red changing light. Further, it is yet another step toward smarter roadways, enabled by vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.”
The system was recently demonstrated on the Las Vegas strip as part of the Consumer Electronics Show and is continuing to be tested in Europe. Though not yet available, Audi has stated that the Traffic Light Assistance system is “production ready” and compatible with every model they sell, so it should be ready for installment very soon.
[Sources: Jalopnik, World Car Fans, Phys.org, Gizmodo]