December 13, 2016 —
As the smart car market ramps up, more players are offering up forms of intelligent vehicle technologies. One of the latest updates is from Audi. They have implemented a basic capability to have one-way device-to-car (D2C) communication with certain traffic signals. So far only the A4, Q7 and A4 All-road models will be equipped with the technology, beginning with 2017 models, and they must subscribe to Audi’s Connect Prime subscription.
While still a bit of a way from being “smart,” it is a step in the intelligence direction. Audi has incorporated basic sensor technology that can get information from certain traffic lights. Now, this is only a one-way channel so far. Unlike emergency vehicles, which talk to the traffic light and change its patterns, Audi’s platform can only receive. It simply takes data from signals that have transmission capability, which is not all signals, and not everywhere – yet.
Audi calls it “time-to-green.” Basically, how it works is that the car receives real-time signal information from traffic management systems that have advanced wireless capabilities. The vehicle monitors the traffic signals infrastructure using LTE and uses them to tell drivers how long they will be stuck at the light.
Some claim that waiting for a green light is perhaps the worst of all driving frustrations. Perhaps so. I know I have sat on my air-cooled Harley, in a hundred-degree heat, behind some soccer mom vehicle with what looks like total chaos in the van. And, I’m sure feelin’ the heat from that big V-Twin. But truly, if I had a real smart HOG in a real, smart traffic infrastructure, I wouldn’t be here anyway. But I digress…
This system uses the vehicle’s on-board LTE data connection capability. As it approaches a “connected” traffic light, Traffic Technology Services, the supplier of the software, will harvest that data and display it on an on-board screen, which is part of the driver instrument cluster and heads-up display. The data shows how much time remains until the light turns green. Rather simple, really.
The software does mark another small step in connecting individual vehicles to a metropolitan traffic grid, a vision automakers see as crucial to self-driving-friendly roadways (but they will NEVER convince me to take my hands of the bars!).