A world with nothing but green lights sounds like a world any driver would like to live in, but is such a thing even possible? Two years ago, Audi revealed it was working on an in-car system to help drivers hit green lights and though this type of convenience is a while off yet, the first iteration will be built into certain upcoming models to notify drivers of how long they'll be waiting for a red to turn green.
Audi's traffic light information system would work by connecting to a city's infrastructure through LTE and in turn, the central management system that controls traffic lights. With access to this information, the car can calculate the ideal speed to travel at in order to encounter as many greens as possible, hopefully easing congestion, reducing pollution and speeding up traffic in the process.
The first version of Audi's traffic light information system won't quite offer this functionality, but it will talk to municipal traffic systems in the interests of driver stress. It will be available in certain Q7, A4 and A4 allroad models built after June 1, 2016 that are fitted with Audi connect, a subscription service that uses cellular connectivity and GPS for things like navigation, in-car Google voice searching and information on nearby parking spaces.
The traffic light information system appears as a countdown clock on the dash or heads-up display if the car has it, indicating the time remaining until the signal changes over from red to green. This little trick would be priceless in the world of Mariokart, where ramping up acceleration in time with the changing lights can give you a huge turbo boost off the mark, but what good does it do in the real world?
Audi says that it can lead to smoother moving traffic and shorter commuting times, and we guess it would be kind of nice to know what you're in for when you pull up to a red. Do I have time to change the radio station? Address the screaming children in the back seat? Maybe take a sip of that coffee? The Enlighten smartphone app released last year offered the same kind of functionality, but this is the first time we have seen it built right into a car.
The German carmaker does note that this is simply the first step in what is a pretty interesting direction. It claims it will be the first vehicle-to-infrastructure service, whereby vehicles communicate with smart cities to improve traffic flow and navigation, and possibly enable new kinds of autonomous driving functionality. The system will be offered as a Prime feature of Audi Connect, but there's no word yet on whether it will carry an extra cost or be incorporated into an existing package. Audi says it will be rolled out in selected cities and metropolitan areas in the coming months.
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