Is This the End of Red Lights?
The wait for a traffic signal to turn green can seem like eternity. Worse still is being stopped by a red light every half-mile. These seemingly minor annoyances can add up to make drivers anxious, irritable, and prone to take bigger risks that lead to accidents. If drivers had better information about traffic signals, the roads would be more tranquil and safer. Technology that enables this sort of thing is already available. Here's how to tap into those tools...
Kinder Traffic Signals, Please
Cities have managed networks of traffic signals from central offices for several decades. Monitoring the status of individual traffic signals is routine now. So is coordinating the cycles of traffic signals so that a car cruising at a steady, safe speed will seldom see a red light. All that’s needed is a way to share traffic signal data with passing cars. That’s the realm of V2I – Vehicle to Infrastructure communications.
Automaker Audi AG is a pioneer in V2I. The company first deployed its Traffic Light Information system in select models in 2017; today, the technology is built into all models. Audi has partnered with Traffic Technology Services, Inc., to enable TLI in six U.S. States and the District of Columbia through TTS’ Personal Signal Assistant system. More States will be implementing V2I and other smart car technologies.
Using traffic signal data transmitted via LTE cellular service, the Audi/TTS system calculates a range of speeds that will get a car green lights at the next two signal-controlled intersections. A dashboard display shows the ideal speed in an animated icon called the Green Light Optimisation Speed Advisory. Audi includes this green light feature in its Audi Connect concierge service, which costs $199 for six months. BMW, Daimler Benz, and Cadillac are also developing green light optimizers.
But you don't need to buy an expensive luxury vehicle to play in this pool. A free smartphone app called EnLighten, by Connected Signals, provides similar traffic light data, and helps drivers plan their best routes.
Sailing through green lights all day will save more than drivers’ nerves. Brake pads will last longer. A car that knows it will be stopped at a long light may even shut itself off to save fuel, and restart before the light turns green. If you've driven a BMW, you'll be familiar with this feature. The car shuts down the engine as soon as you come to a halt, and resumes when you take your foot of the brake. Sometimes that's counterproductive, when you're only going to be stopped for a few seconds, so the Connected Signals tech should help the car make smarter decisions in this regard.
Cities are eager to share the data of their traffic signal networks in exchange for car makers’ data about consumers’ travel patterns. Such data can help cities plan road expansions and traffic management projects.
"Vehicle to Everything" Communication is Next
Traffic lights are just one small piece of a larger puzzle. V2X – Vehicle to Everything – is a fast-growing discipline that encompasses infrastructure (V2I), other vehicles on the road (V2V), and more categoroies. Eventually, autonomous cars will rely on data from many nearby objects to plot efficient routes, cruise at optimal speeds, and respond instantly to emergencies.
Cars will warn each other when they are changing lanes, and automatically pay parking meters when they pull into parking spaces. Road lane markers will be detectable by smart cars even when covered by snow. Smart signs will be read by smart cars, which will repeat signage warnings to drivers who cannot see the signs.
The combination of autonomous cars, ubiquitous connectivity, and big data promises a brave new world where drivers become less and less involved in the process of getting from here to there. How about you? Would you rather drive a smart car that thinks for you, or a "dumb" classic from days gone by?
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 1 Mar 2019
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Is This the End of Red Lights? (Posted: 1 Mar 2019)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved