Any hypermiler will tell you that the way you drive your car has a huge impact on how much energy it uses. But these greenfoot drivers haven't had a car that's smart enough to tell them about the inner lives of traffic lights. That's what a prototype system in an Audi A6 Saloon that the German automaker recently tested in Las Vegas can do. Since the car can communicate with local traffic signals and is able to predict when lights will change, the car can help reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15 percent. Further, Audi says that the system could save some 238 million gallons of fuel (900 million liters), if deployed across Germany. We can only imagine what hypermilers could do with this.
We got to drive the Audi Online traffic light information system prototype in January, but we focused more on how the system worked rather than the green aspect. Now that Audi has had a bit more time to crunch the numbers, it has released fuel economy information for the connected car. The key points for the eco-side of things are that the driver is told in the dashboard how fast/slow to go to hit the next green light. This can help prevent unnecessary speeding and or encourage drivers to go a bit faster in order to hit the green, thus preventing idling and wasted time.
Except that Audi Online is too smart to let you idle for long. The Audi connect system can calculate how much longer the light will be red and can access the car's start-stop capabilities and will fire up the engine "five seconds before the green phase." That seems like an awful long time in a world where competitors have figured out ways to restart an engine in 0.35 seconds. We've asked Audi for an explanation on why this buffer is so lengthy, and will let you know what the reasoning is when we hear back.
The system is too smart to let you idle for long.
Despite the trials in the A6, Audi says the Audi Online traffic system could be integrated into any Audi model, "subject to the necessary government legislation." Aside from the Sin City tests, Audi is running trials of the connected car in Verona, Italy and Berlin, Germany. If you'd like to test it out yourself some day, take heart from this line in the press release, available below: "A market launch is currently the subject of intense analysis in the United States."