Audi gets the green light

Audi claims to be the first car manufacturer to connect its cars to city infrastructure – an important step towards autonomous driving.

In Las Vegas, USA Audi A4 and Q7 models are now able to display traffic-light phases directly in the car. Further US cities will follow, and introduction of the vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) technology is planned in Europe.

‘For the first time, our cars are exchanging data with traffic infrastructure in real time. Drivers can adapt their behaviour to the situation and move through city traffic in a much more relaxed and controlled way,’ said Andreas Reich, head of electronics pre-development at AUDI AG. ‘We increase energy efficiency when we connect our Audi models to smart cities. Further V2I services will follow, making the car into an interactive mobile device. We see autonomous driving as the end of this development.’

As a first step, all Audi A4 and Q7 models produced for the US market since June 2016 and equipped with Audi Connect have this function onboard. In the USA, municipal traffic management centres will communicate the traffic-light data to Audi’s project partner Traffic Technology Service (TTS). Here the data is prepared and sent to the onboard computer in the Audi via a fast Internet connection, for example 4G/LTE, in real time.

The first function of the Traffic Light Information V2I component is called ‘Time-to-Green’. In the Audi virtual cockpit or head-up display, drivers see whether they will reach the next light on green while travelling within the permitted speed limit. If not, a countdown is provided of the time remaining until the next green phase– and drivers can throttle back in good time.

Pilot projects in Europe have shown that drivers exercise more foresight thanks to this information about traffic lights. This has a beneficial overall effect on traffic flow. ‘In our tests the number of cars that had to brake to a standstill in traffic fell by around 20%. This saved time for the driver and also made fuel savings of about 15% in the pilot project,’ said Michael Zweck, project manager for Audi Traffic Light Information.

In future Traffic Light Information could be linked up to smart navigation and used for new powering concepts.