Audi Online traffic light information systemAny 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.

The system is too smart to let you idle for long.

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.

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."

*UPDATE: Audi's Mark Dahncke told AutoblogGreen that the five second window is meant, "To alert the driver that the light is about to turn green. In other words, get ready to drive."
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Market maturity for traffic light networking represents the next phase of Audi connect
  • Audi Online traffic light information system has the potential to save time and fuel
  • 15 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions possible
  • System alerts driver to speed required to reach the next green light
  • Fully developed prototype system showcased in an Audi A6 Saloon at CES
  • Integrated into Audi connect and MMI, and compatible with every Audi model
Audi is ready to add a little oil to the wheels of the daily grind with advanced traffic light recognition technology which could make driving through towns and cities far more fluid and free of annoying and economy-denting red light punctuation.

Audi Online traffic light information harnesses the power of in-car internet in a new way via Audi connect to establish a link between the car and the traffic light network via the central traffic computer in each town or city. It quickly assimilates the automated traffic light change sequences in the vicinity, and on the approach to a set of lights the Driver Information System (DIS) located in the central instrument cluster then shows the driver the speed to select in order to pass through the light during a green phase. It also displays a visual aid using red, amber or green icons.

If the driver is already waiting at a red light, Audi connect will calculate and count down the time remaining until the next green light is scheduled to appear via a timer on the DIS. The system also interacts with the car's Start-Stop function to ensure the engine is switched on five seconds before the green phase.

Audi AG calculates that Online traffic light interaction has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15 per cent, and could save approximately 900 million litres of fuel if it were to be deployed throughout Germany.

The fully functional system is now production ready and could be fitted to every Audi model in the range subject to the necessary government legislation. It was actively demonstrated recently on the busy Las Vegas freeways in an Audi A6 Saloon as part of a trailblazing technology display at the Consumer Electronics Show, and comprehensive testing continues in Las Vegas with 50 sets of traffic lights. Testing is also underway in the northern Italian city of Verona, where some 60 traffic lights covering almost the entire city centre are involved, and in Berlin, where 25 Audi customers are driving cars fitted with Online traffic information that can link up to a total of 1,000 traffic lights in the city. A market launch is currently the subject of intense analysis in the United States.

Online traffic light information shared the stage with a host of technological advances from the Vorsprung durch Technik brand at this year's CES, which represented the next phase in seamless connectivity between Audi models, their drivers and the rest of the digital world. Significant developments in Audi piloted parking and driving were demonstrated, with the central focus on an Audi A7 Sportback that can drive fully autonomously in moving traffic. Another immersive innovation is the Audi Smart Display, an Android-based tablet that allows users to interact with in-car controls yet can also be used as a standalone portable device in the home or on the move.

The Sport quattro laserlight concept also revealed the next generation of Audi lighting. The high-beam laser light unit can illuminate the road by up to 500 metres and will debut on the R18 e-tron quattro sports prototype at Le Mans in June.

Picture Caption

Audi models see the light to trim down traffic queues – The evolution of the 'connected car' is continuing apace at Audi as demonstrated by its latest production-ready driver assist technology which enables interactivity with city traffic lights.

Note to Editors

In 2013 Audi achieved best ever worldwide sales of 1,575,500 cars, an 8.3 per cent improvement over 2012. Sales in the UK increased by 14.9 per cent year-on-year to 142,040 cars, establishing another record and elevating the brand to the lead position in sales terms in the premium sector for the first time. To maintain this strong performance the brand plans to invest around €22 billion – mainly in new products and sustainable technologies - between now and 2018. Audi lives up to its corporate responsibility and has strategically established the principle of sustainability for its products and processes. The long-term goal is CO2-neutral mobility. This philosophy also applies to the brand's sports car racing activities, in which Audi made history in 2012 by winning the Le Mans 24-hour race using pioneering hybrid diesel technology in the R18 e-tron quattro. It went on to repeat the performance in the 2013 race, taking the total number of Audi victories there to 12. This year's all-new 2014 R18 e-tron quattro will aim to continue this incredible run of success.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Douglas Harry
      • 8 Months Ago
      We need that here in Los Angeles. Many has been the time where I will be a light with 5 other people at midnight at a major intersection and we are just sitting there idling our engines for no reason.
      • 8 Months Ago
      That's fine for new Audi buyers. Where the traffic lights have this. What about everyone else not in new Audis? Why not just put a countdown on each light? If Armenia and Burma can do it... Not only does it let everyone do the same coasting up to get a green, it also stops people continuing through when the light is turning red as they know drivers on the other roads will be taking off straight away as they have been watching the countdown. It will reduce congestion as well because you don't have people sitting there daydreaming on the red and taking 5 seconds to realise its turned green before starting to take off, resulting in less cars getting through on the change of lights... instead they'll be ready for it and go as soon as the green comes
      • 8 Months Ago
      One of the many subtle advancements that will lead to autonomous driving.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wait till the hackers hack into these technologies.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Cars have already been hacked into... it happens. But this technology can save a thousand lives for every incident from hacking.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Audi should figure out basic things like power windows before they move on to this fancy technology.
      • 8 Months Ago
      We could save soooooo much fuel in this country if traffic lights were smart. How often do you see 5 cars stopped to let one car go, when waiting 10 seconds the one car could have gone without stopping the 5??? It seems to me that some smart kid would invent a way to retrofit existing signals with a simple eye and processor or something. It seems to me this is something we need, and there is a hole in the market. Obviate Audi! Smart traffic signals today!
        • 8 Months Ago
        I ask myself this every day. We can spend money to develop and implement red light cameras, but not smart traffic lights to keep traffic flowing.
      • 8 Months Ago
      5 seconds to restart an engine will get you rear ended by some impatient yankee moron.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Ask the people with Stop/Start engines. It takes a fraction of a second. Nobody is suggesting throwing this system in some old car.
      • 8 Months Ago
      The logical conclusion of this is cars that drive themselves. They won't slam on the gas as soon as lights turn green or wait till the last second to brake.
      • 8 Months Ago
      With all the recent development in technologies, I can't still predict what my next car will be like in 2023 when I will change my actual car. Will it have that stop light feature ?? Will it be automatic, gasoline, natural gas, hydrogen, improved bev , costly or cheap, used or brand new ?? Anyone guess...
        • 8 Months Ago
        In 9 years... it would be in everyone's best interest if you are not allowed on the road.
      • 8 Months Ago
      This R&D is a total waste of money. 1. non-hypermilers will continue to RAGE from light-to-light, no matter what their dash tells them. (just like the "shift" light) 2. It's more clutter to cause distracted driving.
        • 8 Months Ago
        3. Drivers that use this will step on the pedal when their dash says green which will cause accidents when: a. Dash light fails to correctly sync with the traffic signal. b. Other cars turning or people in the crosswalk have not yet vacated the intersection. What happens if the car is going 15mph and the dash light says green so the driver speeds up, gets to the intersection early? Seems like it could crash into another car going through on a yellow light.
          • 8 Months Ago
          While humans frequently make mistakes, most people try to avoid the possibility of hurting themselves or damaging their vehicles. If they can clearly see that a car is in the intersection or the light didn't change as predicted, they're not going to blindly floor the pedal. Worst case at a stop is they start to hit the gas and immediately hit the brake when they see the light is still red (people already do that when an adjacent lane moves and they still have a red)
      • 8 Months Ago
      This would only save this much gas if everyone bought an audi. How much gas would we save if everyone bought an EV?!
      • 8 Months Ago
      This sounds like cool technology - perhaps another step in a transition toward autonomous cars. Nonetheless I could imagine being a little frustrated if I have a turn-off coming up at a non light-controlled intersection, and I am stuck behind an Audi going, for example, 4 mph so as to avoid having to make a complete stop at a red light further up the road.
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