Audi cars talk to traffic lights

Computing systems combined with sensor technology are changing car design. Car maker Audi is using the technology to change the driving experience in fundamental and energy-saving ways.


German car maker Audi is proposing to connect cars with the traffic light network via links to the central traffic computer in each town or city.

Audi’s on-board computer connects with the traffic light network via links to the central traffic computer in each town or city.

Combining data for the traffic light change sequences with the car’s location and speed the on-board driver information system tells the driver the speed to select in order to pass through the light during a green phase.

It also displays a visual aid using red, amber or green icons.

Also when waiting at a red light, the Audi system will calculate and count down the time remaining until the next green light is scheduled to appear via a timer in the car. It will also start the engine on five seconds before the traffic light is sequenced to turn green.

The claim is that minimising the time cars spend with the engine running at traffic lights in this way could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15%. “This could save approximately 900 million litres of fuel if it were to be deployed throughout Germany,” said Audi.

But it will require approval from national motoring authorities.

Testing is also underway in the northern Italian city of Verona, where some 60 traffic lights covering almost the entire city centre are involved, and in Berlin, where 25 cars fitted with the online traffic information system linked up to a total of 1,000 traffic lights in the city.

A market launch is subject national government legislation.

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