Audi has announced that select 2017 Audi A4, Q7 and allroad models (built after June 2016) will be able to communicate with Wi-Fi-enabled traffic lights that can inform drivers when red lights will turn green.
Traffic Light Information, an Audi connect PRIME feature, was first announced in August; the automaker demonstrated the technology at a Las Vegas launch event this week.
Audi's "time-to-green" traffic light feature is the first feature to leverage the Audi Traffic Light Information service, which is the first step in vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) electronic communications for the automaker.
When approaching a connected traffic light, Traffic Light Information displays the time remaining until a signal changes to green in the driver instrument cluster, as well as the heads-up-display (if equipped). Audi said the service "helps reduce stress and allows the driver to relax knowing approximately how much time remains before the changing of the light."
V2I and V2V will eventually allow cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses and trains to "talk" to each other and to different parts of roadway infrastructure such as traffic signals, work zones, toll booths, and school zones. The exchange of information could make surface transportation safer, smarter and greener.
For example, roadway cameras, sensors and Wi-Fi-enabled vehicles will be able communicate traffic information in real time to other vehicles and alert drivers to accidents or traffic jams. Combined with autonomous driving technology, V2I and V2V will be able to manage traffic flow more efficiently.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been reviewing federal guidance for state and local agencies that will outline how they can best prepare their infrastructure for connected vehicles.
Anticipating the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's connected vehicle mandate, automakers are busily preparing the hardware and software components of V2V systems. Cadillac will deploy connected vehicle technology on at least one model in late 2016, with an estimated production of 40,000 vehicles. Other automakers will likely follow suit in the next year or two, according to the DOT.
Federally-funded, "Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment" sites include Ann Arbor, Mich., Columbus, Ohio, Tampa, Fla., New York City and a few others municipalities that are developing V2I applications. They're mainly expected to be used by fleets of cars that can be outfitted with dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) devices as part of the deployment.
"A number of traffic signals will be retrofitted to communicate with connected vehicles, but the total number of traffic signals cannot be determined at this time," the DOT said in an email response to Computerworld queries.
V2I applications could yield significant safety, mobility and environmental benefits well before all vehicles are connected, the DOT said. For example, Stop Sign Gap Assist—a V2I application that warns drivers when it is unsafe to proceed through a stop-sign controlled intersection—can prevent a two-car collision, even if only one driver is alerted to the danger.
The DOT, along with its state and local counterparts, is evaluating uses that integrate infrastructure and vehicle data to provide more robust and reliable alerts and warnings to drivers. Some of these applications include:
- Red Light Violation Warning: Based on vehicle speeds and distances to intersections, this technology provides in-vehicle alerts to drivers about potential violations of upcoming red lights.
- Curve Speed Warning: If a driver’s current speed is unsafe for traveling through an upcoming road curve, this technology will alert the motorist to slow down.
- Pedestrian in Signalized Crosswalk Warning: Warns a bus driver if pedestrians are in the intended path of the bus when making a right or left turn. The application provides two levels of warning to the driver—a cautionary indicator if the crosswalk button is activated and an imminent warning if a pedestrian is actually detected in the crosswalk.
The current traffic light technology allows new Audis to receive real-time signal data from the advanced traffic management system that monitors traffic lights via the on-board 4G LTE data connection.
Audi made the announcement in Las Vegas -- the first city where it will be enabled -- because the municipality has been rolling out Internet of Things (IoT) technology that includes a wirelessly connected traffic signal network.
"The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) is proud to be the first in the nation to connect our traffic signal network to vehicles through our collaboration with Audi," RTC General Manager Tina Quigley said in a statement. "This vehicle-to-infrastructure technology will help reduce congestion and enhance mobility on our already crowded roadways."
Audi said the V2I infrastructure will expand to additional cities across the U.S. and the carmaker has partnered with Traffic Technology Services (TTS) to facilitate the transfer of traffic light data to Audi vehicles.
"In the future, it may be possible to integrate information from these advanced traffic management systems into vehicle start/stop features, navigation systems to optimize routing, and predictive services such as presenting the driver with a speed recommendation designed to maximize the number of green lights one can make in sequence," Audi stated in a statement. "All of these services would be designed to either improve efficiency, drive time or traffic management."
The DOT does not require the more than 330,000 traffic signals in the U.S. to have internet connectivity, but cities are deploying the technology as part of the agency's national Connected Vehicle Pilot deployment program.
An annual survey from traffic systems software company Miovision shows that about 48% of municipality respondents' signals are connected, according to ABIResearch analyst Susan Beardslee.
Along with Las Vegas, Audi has tested the new traffic light information service in Palo Alto, Calif. and Washington, D.C., Beardslee said.