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How Long is the Light?

09.22.16 - Traffic Light

The struggle is real; the frustration of sitting at a traffic light wondering when the light will turn green. If you’re at the front of the line you might peek over at the crossing traffic and their light to get an idea of when your light is going to turn green, but that only helps once their light turns to yellow and then to red. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a program in our vehicles that allowed us to know how long it would be until the current traffic light would turn green so we could go through the intersection?

For 2017 that frustration will change for some Audi owners. The new A4, A4 Allroad and Q7 will have a technology built in that will actually show the time until the light turns green on the instrument panel and the head up display. This is the first step in an integration that will become a huge part of how Audi addresses autonomous driving in the future and it can be useful for us now. This new technology will only be offered through the Audi Connect Prime subscription of the telematics program, but could give you the information you’re looking for.

This program is the first version of the vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) technology and is developed in conjunction with Traffic Technology Services (TTS) to provide real time information regarding traffic lights and patterns in many cities. With this communication the information regarding the time until a light turns green can be used in a variety of ways and eventually be expanded upon to help create the autonomous driving technology desired for the future. Not only will this help to reduce the frustration drivers feel when they’re stopped at a light, but it could be used to improve navigation features, the start/stop functionality and the traffic flow.

Not only can this technology offer the improvement of traffic flow and other technologies, but it can help to reduce some of the reminders given at traffic stops. Currently some navigation systems don’t take traffic lights into consideration when giving reminders, which leaves drivers sitting at a light with an incessant voice continually telling them to make the turn or trying to reroute the vehicle because the system thinks the car is stuck in traffic that has stopped. With this integration the Audi navigation system won’t make these continual reminders and will be able to take traffic lights into consideration when charting a route.

If a system can know the timing of the lights in your area and use that information to help you make the best route decisions possible you may also see your commute time reduced. As you can see there are several ways this V2I technology can be used before we ever make it to the first fully autonomous vehicle. Certainly this technology will be needed when vehicles drive themselves, but along the way we get to enjoy knowing how long until the green light along with a host of other benefits that can come from the V2I software.

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