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Audi traffic light recognition technology to save you fuel

Wed, 12 Mar 2014

Audi has announced its online traffic light recognition system is now market ready. The idea of this is to help drivers hit green lights instead of red lights, thus saving both time and fuel.

Called Audi Online Traffic Light Information, the technology was demonstrated in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and testing is also under way in Verona and Berlin.

Here’s how it works and why it will benefit you – and your wallet.

How does Audi Online Traffic Light Information work?

Although referred to (by Audi) as traffic light recognition, the system isn’t really ‘recognising’ traffic lights at all.

Audi calculates CO2 emissions could fall by as much as 15%

Instead it uses in-car internet connectivity to talk to a town or city’s central traffic light computer. This allows it to “quickly assimilate the automated traffic light change sequences” nearby (which makes it sound a little bit like The Borg, but we digress).

Once it knows the nearby sequences, it can then advise the driver what speed to travel at to reach the next traffic light while it is on green, via the standard Driver Information System (DIS) – the screen in the middle of the instrument cluster.

This includes a quick visual aid using red, amber or green icons.

If the system is activated while you are already at a red light, it will also count down the time until the light changes to green, while also ensuring the car’s stop-start function has re-engaged the engine in plenty of time (five seconds before lift-off).

Sounds like quite the advantage for the traffic light grand prix – but Audi has far more noble intentions here.


What are the benefits of Audi Online Traffic Light Information?

Assuming all goes according to plan, Audi says the major benefits are increased traffic flow and a significant reduction in CO2 (and other) emissions. Less fuel will be wasted from cars standing still.

25 lucky Audi customers are already enjoying the technology in Berlin

In fact, the German brand calculates that CO2 emissions could fall by as much as 15%. If every light and car in Germany used the system, Audi says it could save as much as 900 million litres of fuel.

The less fuel your car uses standing still, the less money you spend travelling to a destination that you should also be reaching in a shorter time. It’s very much win-win in every regard.

When will Audi Online Traffic Light Information go on sale?

Audi claims its online traffic light information system is now ready for market.

Unfortunately, for it to stand any chance of actually going on sale there may have to be some legislation changes – not to mention authorities being prepared to grant Audi access to their traffic control computers.

The ongoing trials are part of this process. In addition to the Audi A6 demonstration car at CES in Las Vegas, which worked with 50 sets of traffic lights, Audi is currently testing the process with 60 sets of lights in Verona – covering almost the entire city centre.

Meanwhile, 25 lucky Audi customers are already enjoying taking advantage of the technology in Berlin, where 1,000 sets of traffic lights are open to cooperation.

Audi’s market launch target is the US, however, and “intense analysis” is already under way.

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By CJ Hubbard, contributor, MSN Cars