German carmaker Audi is equipping some of its 2017 models in the United States with technology that will communicate with traffic signals.
Information from the signals will let drivers know exactly when the light will change color.
The technology is known as vehicle-to-infrastructure (V-to-I). It lets traffic signals and other infrastructure send safety and operations information wirelessly to vehicles.
The equipment will be included on Audi’s Q7, A4 and A4 “Allroad” models built after June 1, 2016.
The service is set to begin this year in at least five “smart” American cities. These include Las Vegas, Nevada, Seattle, Washington, and Washington D.C.
The information will come from government agencies that already collect data to predict and oversee traffic flow. A private company will partner with government officials to pass along the data to vehicles.
Drivers will see a countdown on the car’s instrument panel to show when the traffic signal will turn green or red. The message goes away a few seconds before the light changes, so drivers can turn their attention to safely proceeding.
Pom Malhotra is general manager of Audi's connected vehicles division. He said the system was designed to provide drivers with a sense of ease and convenience, not as a safety feature.
“A better informed driver means a less stressed driver,” an announcer says in an Audi video explaining the technology.
The company said the idea is to let drivers know exactly how long before a signal changes. It suggested they use the time to make sure other passengers are fine or monitor vehicle operations.
The technology raises the possibility that some drivers may use the vehicle’s downtime to talk on the telephone or send text messages. But Audi said it would never tell drivers to text while driving – an activity that is illegal in almost all 50 states.
Many other automakers are experimenting with the technology.
The goal is to eventually integrate traffic infrastructure with cars on many city roads. This would let traffic signals use the vehicle data to regulate traffic, suggest better driving paths, or suggest speeds needed to hit all green lights.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Words in This Story
infrastructure – n. basic systems used to serve society, such as transportation and communication
instrument panel – n. surface in front of a driver that displays all major functions of a vehicle
convenience – n. something that makes life easier
monitor – v. watch, keep track of
integrate – v. combine two or more things to make something more effective
recommend – v. to say something is good and should be chosen